Posts filed under 'Designer Profiles'
Last month, Zoë Hong went to New York as a self-described “not-famous everyday fashion designer.” Days later, she came back to her hometown of San Francisco as a semi-famous award-winning fashion designer. As the winner of Gen Art’s prestigious Perrier Bubbling Under Award, Zoë competed against 800 aspiring designers representing 28 countries and 33 states. The down-to-earth designer says, though, that the green trophy hasn’t dramatically changed her life. Maybe not yet, but we expect great things to come from the disarmingly modest twenty-six-year-old.
O: Tell us about the collection that won you Gen Art’s Perrier Bubbling Under Award.
Z: This year, Perrier’s theme was “sparkle.” However, I’m not a sparkly designer. “Sparkle” makes me think of beads, sequins, and other add-ons. It was a challenge, but I love a challenge. I gave it my own twist and made sure the collection looked like me. I like mixing menswear elements in clothes, unexpected color combinations and fabrics. I played with these ideas with this “sparkle” theme in mind. So many designers out there are creating convoluted concepts. I like concept for the sake of clothes, not concept for sake of concept. I wanted to make something beautiful, something that was concept for the sake of clothes.
O: Tell us about your trip to New York for the competition.
Z: It was pretty insane. I’m trying to become a citizen, and I had an immigration interview scheduled for the day before. That’s not one of those things you can reschedule. I went to the interview, came home to get my bags, hopped on the plane to New York, got in at 6am the day of the event, only to find that the hotel check in started at 3pm. After check in, I hopped into the shower, then did a Coutorture interview right before the event.
O: What about the actual event?
Z: Really, the first hour was a blur. I had too much caffeine and not enough sleep. The awards ceremony itself was pretty straightforward. I was in the second segment, and the person who won right before me was Bruno Grizzo. He’s a great guy, and I have a lot of respect for him. However, when he won, he had a speech. It was written on a tiny little piece of paper. I freaked out! He had a speech. I really didn’t have a speech. I calmed myself down by figuring that I wouldn’t win anyways. So when I won, I was completely unprepared. I was blinded by the lights, and I rambled something. I didn’t know what I said until Coutorture showed me the video of the event later.
O: You were quoted in WWD as saying, “I’d like to give Gen Art mad props for existing for this exact purpose.” Would you like to comment on your comment?
Z: I was just really worried that I had offended Gen Art with my comment. I actually asked Tali at Gen Art to see if it was offensive. Luckily, she thought it was a great quote.
O: First thought when they called your name as the winner?
Z: I just sort of sat there. My boyfriend poked me on the side and asked, “Are you going to get up there?” I was wearing a traditional kimono for unmarried women. The sleeves were long, and they went just past my knee. I was also wearing 5-inch platform heels. I just kept thinking, “Don’t trip! People are watching!”
O: How did you celebrate your big win?
Z: I’ve been meeting a lot of fashion bloggers online, including Julie Fredrickson, one half of the Coutorture team. I emailed her a couple weeks before I went to New York and told her why I was coming. She decided to throw this huge party—a Coutorture Launch/Congratulations Verbal Croquis [my blog’s name] party. It was at Lucky Jacks on the Lower East Side. WWD, Fashion Wire Daily, and Glam were there.
O: How did winning the award change your life?
Z: It hasn’t really changed my life. I don’t ever think that these sorts of things change your life. It’s what you end up doing with it. I feel like my 15 minutes of fame are over. But for me, the most important thing was an industry validation of my talents as a designer.
O: In addition to being a designer, you’re also an avid fashion blogger. For our readers who aren’t familiar with your blog, Verbal Croquis, would you please describe it?
Z: Verbal Croquis is the adventures of a not-famous everyday fashion designer who is extremely ambitious and hardworking. It’s a realistic view of the life of a fashion designer. It’s not always glamorous. A lot of days, it’s coming home really tired, waiting for your samples from China that are stuck on a boat somewhere, going to boring meetings, and not being able to meet fabric minimums. It’s a boss who’s not feeling you one day, and yet, totally feeling you another day. Interestingly, people recently started writing me asking for fashion career advice. Now I appear to be the blogosphere’s go-to gal for how to get your fashion career started.
O: What’s your most important piece of advice for aspiring designers?
Z: You really have to figure out where in the industry you belong. Pinpoint what you want. That will guide you to whatever methods you need to get started. There are various options, and plenty of options as a designer. What kind of designer do you want to be? Where do you want to be? How involved do you want to be in production and construction? First, nail down your long-term and short-term goals. Only then can you figure out how to get there.
O: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Z: I’m one of those cliché stores that always loved fashion. There’s a picture of me at 7 years old, with a JC Penney catalogue in my arm. It had hundreds of pages of pretty pictures, and I carried it everywhere.
O: What do you love about fashion?
Z: When you talk about fashion, you can have one conversation about the cute shoes you have to have, which can turn into a discussion about fashion trends and consumption and how things have changed. I love the variety and how it reaches different parts of my brain. I never get bored.
O: What do you dislike about fashion?
Z: The preconceived reputation of designers. Everyone assumes you don’t need any training. It’s not like law. You don’t need to pass an exam, you don’t need a degree. Sure, we’re not saving lives or anything, but it does the profession a disservice when people come in and say, “Oh, design can’t be hard.” It lowers the already tarred reputation of designers as lazy.
O: What do your parents think about your career choices?
Z: I was groomed to be a lawyer. I had piano lessons. I had to learn how to cook, quiet my voice at the appropriate time, and do the whole docile Asian thing. When I was preparing my portfolio for design school during my senior year of high school, my dad not so subtly hinted at alternative college options. He left a Yale Law school sweatshirt outside my bedroom door.
O: What’s your definition of style?
Z: It’s your personality in tangible items. I have no personal style because I never groomed it. I’ve been too busy grooming other people. My uniform is a leather jacket and jeans. When I have to go to an event somewhere, I start sweating thinking about it. I was never my own muse.
O: Favorite designer?
Z: It’s a tie between Alexander McQueen and Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga. I love them both because they do it different. I don’t think their designs are really about shock value. It’s just how they are as designers.
O: High maintenance or Low maintenance?
Z: Personality wise, I’m pretty low maintenance. I leave all of my Type A-ness to my work. I have a free flow social life, but at work, I’m really organized with a very detailed calendar. You have to deliver. So much of this industry is all about deadlines. I’m demanding of my team, but I try to be friendly.
O: What’s in style right now?
Z: I had a very interesting conversation with some fellow fashion bloggers. We decided that it’s everything and nothing. We did the whole bohemian look for awhile, but that’s done, even though the garmentos are still doing it. More recently, we saw designers doing the “new minimalism.” Really, it was about looking like a woman instead of looking like a girl. That’s where fashion is right now.
O: Everything and nothing?
Z: Fashion doesn’t have an identity this year. It’s trying to make an identity for itself this decade, while trying really hard not to do the vintage thing. It’s tough, because a lot of what’s out there has already been done. It’s giving fashion a bit of an identity crisis. There’s a whole movement towards making fashion more democratic with small design houses proliferating. There’s no fashion dictatorship anymore. All of the big stars—Marc Jacobs, Prada—they’re left over from the 90s.
O: Last words?
Z: I’m still young, I have a lot of energy, can you expect a lot of new things coming from me, and not just from my blog. I have more ambition than most fashionistas have shoes. I love this industry.
Love Zoë as much as we do? Visit her blog at http://verbalcroquis.wordpress.com.
June 15th, 2006
Like Manolo Blahnik before him, Milan-based shoe designer Max Kibardin initially studied architecture before he leaped into the fashion world. His designs combine the structural beauty of architectural designs with the decorative detailing evocative of nature—in this case, simple vegetables. Kibardin’s self-described dialogue between architecture and nature harmonizes in strikingly gorgeous shoe designs. Omiru caught up with Kibardin to get the scoop on his design process, his inspiration, and his style philosophy.
O: How did you get into the footwear industry?
M: Three years ago, I had an opportunity to have a colloquium with Fabio Zambernardi (head designer at Prada), showing him my prêt-à-porter womenswear collection. At that meeting, he asked me if I was interested into shoes. I wasn’t initially, since my thoughts were about producing my own collection, but I started to think about it.
O: Who wears your shoes?
M: Fashion journalists. They are my favorite celebrities.
O: Describe your design process.
M: I start by collecting interesting details from movies, old magazines (I have big archive of them), art, nature, and architecture. Really, the whole world surrounding me. I do this several months before I start designing, and then one day it all comes together like a pieces of mosaic. My next step is to "stick" all the research work over the shoe form and create unique inspiration for the combination of colors and lines of shoe construction. Then you have to find a compromise from what do you want and what can you have, using a technical language for materializing the drawing. I rarely do fabric, color and trend research before designing. Normally, I am searching for the right fabrics, with drawings already in my hand, which might help me better to express my concept.
O: How do you manufacture your shoes?
M: My shoes are made in Vigevano, a small town next to Milan. Vigevano is traditionally famous for the factories, which are best for manufacturing high quality shoes. My shoes are being produced using old craftsman studio processes, and they can take about 3 months in production.
O: Any advice for aspiring designers?
M: Accept any experience that enriches your own fashion vision.
O: As a designer, do you feel extra pressure to wear trendy clothing?
M: Not at all, I still feel very comfortable continuing wearing my Helmut Lang jeans with Lacoste polos.
O: What do you think about this increased interest in what celebrities are wearing?
M: Celebrities, in this day and age, gain more human aspect, unlike the unreachable divas in the era of old Hollywood. As a result, it’s very easy for any person to identify himself with celebrities.
O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?
M: Helmut Lang jeans, since his shops are closed and they are so hard to find!
O: What is in style right now?
M: Chunky heels.
O: What’s going out of style?
M: Diamond shoes.
O: What clothes have you worn that you’re now ashamed of?
M: None. You have to try everything you want to, to find your own style.
O: What are you inspired by?
M: Mostly by old movies.
O: What are your favorite designers?
M: Miuccia Prada, Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, and Alber Elbaz.
O: High maintenance or Low Maintenance?
M: Trying to be low maintenance.
O: What’s your style philosophy?
M: Less is more.
To purchase Max Kibardin’s shoe designs, fax orders to 00390236555547.
June 8th, 2006
Jewelry designer Geoff Thomas is giving manly men who’d like to experiment with jewelry a reason to celebrate. His hardcore line of bracelets, necklaces, rings, and belt buckles are anything but feminine. That’s not to say that women can’t partake in the unique designs of Thomas. In fact, his one-of-a-kind sterling silver bras are suited particularly for female clientele. Actress Traci Bingham has already snagged one for herself. And we caught Mischa Barton wearing one of his rings during an episode of the O.C. last January. Omiru got a chance to dish with the talented sculptor, painter, and jewelry designer.
O: Your artistic skills: natural gift or were they taught?
G: Well both my parents were artists. As far as being taught, I taught myself pretty much everything, especially with the jewelry. I bought books on everything and sort of put it to practice along the way. I’d say I have a combination of the two. Definitely I have the artist gene in me.
O: You started off as a sculptor and painter and then transitioned into jewelry design. With which profession do you most identify yourself?
G: I consider myself an all-around artist, but I’m definitely a jewelry designer right now more than a painter or a sculptor. I took an immediate liking to jewelry design. I have a fascination with metal, and I’m into the whole fashion world thing too. My skills in the jewelry world are definitely further along than my skills in painting and sculpture. I know a lot of jewelers, old timers, who have been doing this for 20 or so years, who look at my work and are surprised at what I’m doing for my age. I think my strongest talent lies in jewelry. Also, I have to say unfortunately there’s much more of a living to be made with jewelry.
O: Were you always a jewelry fan?
G: Yeah, I’ve always kind of been into it. My mom was a big collector of Southwestern jewelry, and I was always checking that stuff out. I’ve always been fascinated with metal – different forms of it, playing with it, sculpting it – it’s sort of natural that jewelry would be something I was drawn to.
O: What makes your jewelry line unique?
G: Well, it definitely doesn’t look like anything else out there. I draw from a lot of different influences. I was a tattoo artist for a while, so I have that edge in there. My fabrication techniques are self-taught, and for that reason, the way I put the metal together is not like what a lot of other people do. And I have the technical abilities and the artistic vision. You get a lot of jewelry designers that are either very creative or they’re a craftsman on the technical side. I luckily have both of those going on. I can execute my vision in a very specific way. I’ve always been an individualistic kind of guy. I never like wearing the same stuff that everyone else has, so I go out of my way to be as unique as possible. I sort of get lumped into kind of a hard edge category sometimes, though that’s not my only kind of style. I think I have a sleek style too. I come in with that hardcore rock and roll edge with a classy touch to it.
O: How did you turn your dream of jewelry design into reality?
G: I started designing jewelry almost 10 years ago. I started off doing it as another art form. I would say up until a couple years ago it wasn’t really something I was pursuing as a business and becoming a brand name type of designer. It’s only been a couple of years that I’ve been on that track. I had enough people telling me it was something I should do, and I had people believing in me, so it just sort of fell into place.
O: What piece is your personal favorite?
G: My personal favorite piece right now is the Razed Mokume bracelet. It’s pretty over-the-top.
O: What’s your price point?
G: It depends. My one-of-a-kinds, which are in the Geoff Thomas Designs section, go anywhere from $1,000 to $10-15,000. They’re hand-made by me from top to bottom. I also have a more mass produced collection line that is mostly all sterling silver. Everything in that collection line is between $150 and $250; we even have some pieces under $150. However, I’m moving more towards gold and diamonds right now, so those pieces are going to go higher in price.
O: Do you have a team of people helping you?
G: My one-of-a-kinds are all hand-made by me.
O: How long does it take to make a bracelet?
G: It depends. I’d say the Razed Mokume bracelet, between design time and fabrication time, takes about 20-25 hours. Sometimes less, sometimes more. I have a bikini top that’s a collectible and made out of sterling silver and white and yellow sapphires. That one took about 60 hours. I’m usually working on 10-12 pieces at a time. I’ll bounce from one to the next, so sometimes it’s hard to gauge exact times.
O: Where can we buy your jewelry?
G: Right now, online and out of my showroom on Main Street in Santa Monica. I’m right now, as we speak, putting my collection into retail stores. A couple in LA are getting ready to pick up my line. There are also some in Arizona. I’m just getting started with that facet of the business.
Look out for Geoff’s designs in an episode of a major reality TV show as well as three summer movies!
May 31st, 2006
Though four years have passed since famous makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin left us, his legacy and his beauty line live on through his friend and business partner, Eric Sakas. The former Director of Marketing for the Inoui line of cosmetics for Shiseido, Eric worked very closely with the late Kevyn and founded the Trade Agency with the makeup guru. In 2000, the duo also founded Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, Inc., the company that oversees the manufacturing and distribution of Kevyn’s complete line of cosmetics and lifestyle products. Omiru had the chance to chat with Eric about makeup tips and Kevyn’s continuing influence on his eponymous beauty line.
Omiru: What was your relationship with Kevyn?
Eric: Kevyn and I were both partners and business partners. We shared a wonderful life together.
O: What do you remember most about him?
E: I remember that big heart, lots of laughter and joy, and how he treated people. He was really great with everyone; he could make anyone feel at ease. People loved being around him. His soul was bigger than his life.
O: What were some of his regular sayings?
E: It’s not worth doing if you’re not going to give it 110%. Tune out all the voices around you and listen to your heart. What makes us special and unique is what makes us beautiful.
O: Did the makeup line launch before or after his passing?
E: The Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Line was founded in May 2000. Kevyn Aucoin passed on May 7, 2002.
O: What do you think about when creating a product/choosing a color? What are you taking into consideration? (Feel free to reference the new introductions.)
E: We have years of products Kevyn developed that are sitting with our manufacturers waiting to be rolled out. There is a full bath and body line, a fragrance line, as well as a skincare line. Occasionally a new technology is introduced that I will incorporate into Kevyn’s philosophy. I also look to his makeup bag for inspiration.
O: What are some tips for the lips?
E: Make sure your lip pencil is sharpened and of a fairly firm texture in order to clearly define and draw across the small lines around the mouth. Lining the lips (using the Flesh Tone Lip Pencil) will also help to prevent your lipstick from bleeding.
E: Eyes are the only area where you can really have fun and be quite creative. Unlike the lips, which can only be altered in shape before they start to look awkward, the eyes have no real set limitations. Each shape you create, whether with shadows, pencils, or liner, can take you into completely different realms. From "smoky" to "defining," subtle to high-drama, depending on the face you choose, the eye area is integral for a successful look.
E: Blush can bring a glow or the bloom of youth to your face. Coloring is simple, too. Pink and apricot are favorite colors - more or less, it’s foolproof. For liquid or crème blush (like the Creamy Moist Glow), it is best to apply it before powder. That way it blends easier and with loose powder over it, it looks like it’s coming from within.
Images: Top left: The late Kevyn Aucoin. Bottom right: Kevyn Aucoin Liquid Eye Shading.
May 9th, 2006
Jewelry designer Patricia Candido is living the American dream, literally. Though she left tropical Brazil for hectic L.A. with her American husband a year ago, the move was a smart choice for her career. In less than a month after launching her collection, she gained a loyal fan base that includes Hollywood heavyweights Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, and American Idols Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice. Omiru had a chance to catch up with Patricia to dish about her sudden success, her appreciation for the American culture, and how her name has graced the pages of major fashion magazines.
Omiru: You went from working in public relations to telecommunications and now to jewelry design. How did you decide to get into jewelry design, and was it always a passion of yours?
Patricia: Well, jewelry has always been my passion, but when I was living in Brazil, I had almost a 15-year career in public relations. My husband is actually American, and he was living in Brazil with me; we decided to move back here. I did not want to go back to communications school to get more education, and I didn’t want to spend another 2-3 years in a university when I was already 20 years old. I did not have a work visa. To kill some time, I was just making little bracelets with plastic beads. I showed my husband, and he said “This is really pretty, but I think with plastic beads we’ll go nowhere. What about if we change the plastic beads to semi-precious stones, and go with silver and precious metal?” That’s how we started to refine the design. When I very first began to make jewelry, I had around 10-15 pieces in a tiny box, and every time I was wearing something, people would approach me on the streets saying “Where did you get this?” So I started to feel that there was really something there.
O: From where do you draw your inspiration?
P Most of my inspiration comes from the Indians in Brazil and the way that they adorn their bodies. It’s different from the American Indians. The only thing the American Indians wear are feathers. In Brazil, it’s a tropical culture; the weather is not cold. I started to look into their colors and all the feathers that they used and all the color combinations. That’s my focal point.
O: Are your designs sold in Brazil?
P: No. The fashion industry in Brazil is getting really big, and just like here, they have many different label designers and boutiques. They’re really into American fashion and European fashion, and we’ve been talking about that. It’s something that’s down the line.
O: What makes your collection unique?
P: My color combinations. I always go for bright and strong colors. Also, it’s very organic looking. I use precious metals and precious stones and feathers. Then you have amethyst, then you have 14 karat gold around it, then you have onyx. I basically try to use all the fantastic stones that I can find.
O: I noticed that a lot of celebrities are starting to wear your jewelry line. How does it feel to see your name in major magazines?
P: Oh my God, it feels fantastic!
O: How did celebrities start hearing about your designs?
P: When I first started to think of jewelry design as a business, I didn’t know where to go. My whole background was selling news, working behind the doors. I didn’t have any experience in sales. One day, I came to Venice Beach to sell my stuff–it wasn’t the right place. Later, I went for a walk on Sunset Boulevard and went into a boutique. The owner of the boutique came to me and said, “The bracelet you’re wearing is gorgeous. Who is the designer?” and I said “It’s myself.” She asked me if she could sell it. Of course! One week later, Halle Berry came by and bought all the inventory I had in that store. Halle came back several times. All in all, she bought more than 200 pieces of my jewelry. She also gave my jewelry to Oprah Winfrey! And that’s not all. One stylist who saw one of my chokers in a boutique in Beverly Hills put it on Barbara Streisand in “Meet the Fockers.” And all this happened within a month!
O: How long ago was this?
P: Only about a year ago. My line is still brand new.
O: Have you gotten a chance to meet your celebrity clientele?
P: A couple. I’ve met Rosanna Arquette. There’s a newcomer actress named Marcelle Larice. She’s doing a show on UPN with Jenny McCarthy. We actually became friends.
O: Do you think that you’ll start branching out into other accessories?
P: I have been approached by many shoe and handbag designers about incorporating my styles in their creations. In the future, I will definitely be launching a shoe line. First a handbag line, then a shoe line, and further down, a clothing line. It’s all in my business plan.
O: Is this your last career choice or will there be others?
P: I hope not. I really would love to write a book about all this–for me it’s really an American dream come true. I came from Brazil. When I first moved here, I had a very hard time speaking the language and it was such a challenge for me to go to boutiques. At the beginning, I started to sell my jewelry myself. I didn’t have any sales reps, any support. It was really overwhelming to go to places and see people’s reactions. Also, it’s great to see how American people are so open to foreigners.
O: Most jewelry designers focus on women’s pieces, but you’ve successfully branched out into men’s jewelry. Why did you feel it was important to include pieces for men?
P: My husband was at Starbucks wearing one of my bracelets, and the stylist for American Idol at that time – that was when Carry Underwood won – approached my husband, and they decided to have one or two pieces for the show. Bo Bice wore one of my bracelets. My designs are especially for guys who are involved in fashion, for men who are not afraid to pull a piece and go with the whole fashion statement. I have a line of silver bracelets that are very simple. They’re very striking and do really well with men.
O: So was your husband wearing a piece from the men’s line or the women’s line?
P: No! He was wearing one of my pieces called Africana. It’s all in cashmere gold and orange coral.
O: What is your favorite piece from your collection?
P: Usually my favorite ones are the ones I created recently. I love the whole Africana collection. And I love the new line of earrings I’m working on right now that will be launched in mid-May.
O: How many stores carry your line?
P: I’d say 100 stores in the U.S., around 20 in Japan, and a couple more in China.
O: Last words?
P: I am very grateful for all the wonderful feedback I’ve been getting. It’s been very overwhelming!
Like what you see? Look for Patricia’s designs at Fred Segal (LA), Margaret O’Leary (NYC), and the Caesars Palace Forum Shops (Las Vegas). Can’t wait? Shop online at www.patriciacandido.com.
May 2nd, 2006
Ever want to know what a fashion stylist does? Omiru caught up with Alana Kelen (pictured right) and Esther Pak (pictured left), who hold this enviable job at VH1 in New York. Read on to hear about the life of a stylist, stories from on-the-job, fashion foibles, and what’s in and what’s out!
Omiru: How did you get into the fashion industry?
Esther: I always knew that I either wanted to be a teacher or get into fashion. I chose fashion after taking art classes my junior and senior year of high school. Fashion is something that I fell in love with. I just knew it. If I weren’t on the creative side of fashion, you would find me on the business end.
Alana: Likewise, I always loved fashion. My mom tells me that I would pick out my clothes when I was young, down to the ribbons in my hair. For me, going into fashion was a decision of schools. It was a big decision to go to FIT—you don’t get a fashion degree and then go do something else. It was an all or nothing decision.
O: Describe your career path.
A: I attended FIT, majoring in Buying and Merchandising, which got me into the fashion community. I was lucky enough to land an internship at VH1, and after I graduated, I was hired here as a stylist. It’s a great environment here, and Esther and I are lucky to have consistent work—that’s not the norm in the styling business. We also pick up tons of freelance work—for movies, editorial, and other TV shows.
E: I also attended FIT, majoring in Buying and Merchandising, and interned at VH1. Styling here is a pretty small department, and it’s extremely hard to get a job here even after an internship. I learned so much during that three months though—probably more than I did in all four years of school. After graduating, I went to MTV. But I kept in touch with all of the people I met, and eventually ended up back at VH1.
O: Any advice for aspiring stylists?
E: A smaller environment is better for interning. Here at VH1, I had 2 or 3 people that took me under their wing and they taught me what they knew. Their help landed me freelance jobs afterwards, and to this day, I still use some of the techniques they taught me.
A: Be thorough. Keep your promises. Relationships matter. People remember that we always follow up. How do we do things? No. 1, we give the vendors credit, and no. 2, we give them videotapes showing their clothes on film. We treat it like any business relationship.
E: All of our vendors that we work with love that it’s very personal with us. All of our notes are handwritten. We do our best to get photos of the client in the clothes to send to the vendors. It’s important to us that our vendors know that they’re doing us a favor.
A: The fashion business is all about networking and keeping good relationships with everybody. People jump around in our business. It’s a pretty tight knit circle. So keep in touch with all of the people you meet—contacts are important.
O: Describe a typical day as a stylist.
A&E: We usually start our days at the office. When we arrive in the morning, we have to find out what talent we’re dressing, what they like, and then we have to start calling in the clothes. A lot of the job is correspondence, via phone and email. We’re probably on the computer 50% of the day. Appointments are usually scheduled anytime between noon and five. We go out to the showrooms and stores, coming back for fittings later in the afternoon. Fittings usually take an hour, and only about 25% of the clothes typically make it into the final closet. From there, we style out the shoots we need for the next day and send out the clothes. We typically leave between 6 and 8pm, though sometimes we’re here till midnight.
E: We work long days, but we typically switch off and cover for each other. We work as a team, and there’s a nice balance between the two of us.
O: Is that kind of teamwork common in the industry?
E: I would assume that it’s common, but it might be different here because it is such a small department. There’s actually three of us in our department—it’s nice because we’re a tight knit group, and we look out for each other. We even pass off jobs to each other.
O: What was your favorite styling assignment?
E: During my MTV years, I worked on a traveling show called “I Bet You Will.” What I loved about it was the tight knit group of production people. It was a really fun environment, and I liked the fact that there was a lot of traveling involved, along with interesting last minute requests that constantly kept me on my toes, such as being in the middle of Virgina and at 12:30 am making a run to Walmart to get 10 white sheets so I could make 10 togas for 10 half-naked frat boys for one of the ‘bets’.
A: VH1 did a concert for New York after Sept 11. It was such a big event for such a good cause. Everyone broke down all their walls. There were hundreds of celebrities there, and nobody got star treatment. We had one big green room, and everyone was there, which is so unusual. Stylists and crew don’t usually mix with the on-air talent.
O: What kinds of unusual requests have you gotten?
E: A 1970s style suit for a person who isn’t a sample size, a futuristic outfit for someone who’s a XXXL size. You get a lot of last minute crazy moments. During Halloween, my life is easier—you can get costumes the same day. Other times, I’ve been known to pull all nighters creating outfits.
A: I once did a heavy metal makeover with piercings and tattoos. I was up till 3am before a 7am shoot painting and distressing doc martens. I also made an Elvis costume for a guy weighing 400 lbs.
O: Where are your favorite places to shop?
A: We’re bargain hunters. We’re used to doing shows with low budgets, and it’s tough to look at clothes at full price. Some of my favorite places are Loehmanns, H&M, and sample sales.
E: Oh yeah, we’re huge Diesel junkies. Our favorite sample sales are Diesel and Theory. It’s interesting—stylists typically go for the classic kind of look. Solid colors and denim. We dress people in trendier clothes, but we’d recommend more classic pieces.
O: As stylists, do you feel extra pressure to trend it up?
E: Every day, I stand and stare in front of my closet and think, “What am I going to wear?” It’s tough because everyone knows what we do. They think, “What are the stylists wearing today?” You can feel the pressure. However, I generally wear what’s comfortable. Today, I’m wearing Frye boots and jeans.
A: I’ve never felt uncomfortable wearing trousers and a pair of Converse sneakers. I think that if you put yourself together well, it’s ok. We’re running around, on the subway, and all over town. We can’t get all decked out.
E: Yeah, it’s rare that I wear heels. We’re running around, and then we’re down on the ground putting hems up and ripping clothes up. It’s a lot of physical work.
O: What do you think about this increased interest in what celebrities are wearing?
E: It has to do with the fact that we’re saturated with magazines like US Weekly. Everyone has an interest in entertainment interest, and they look up to these celebrities. Fashion magazines used to include actual people doing everyday things. Now, it’s celebrities everywhere.
O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?
E: That’s a tough one—I can’t choose just one! Any pair of jeans that I have, probably one of my pairs of Diesels because they fit me so well. I also have a pair of boots passed down to me from my mom that wore when I was younger. However, my feet are a half size bigger than hers. There are so many pieces that I love that I would want to pass along to my future daughter—my Frye boots, a periwinkle Marc Jacobs sweater, and a big puffy navy pullover hoodie from 8th grade that I always wear…it has special significance to me because it has the name of my school, the year I graduated, and signatures of all of my classmates. I’m very attached to clothes, but even more attached to the memories.
A: An Eggplant Marc Jacobs bag—they’ve since discontinued the color. That, and a one-of-a-kind brown Moschino jacket with flower patches that my mom got for me. Whenever I wear either of these items, people stop me on the street to ask me where I got them.
O: What clothes have you worn that you’re now ashamed of?
E: 2 years ago, I wore one of those mini flouncy skirts. But it was on vacation…so it was “ok” that I wore them. Oh, and years ago, I wore this button down silk blouse that my mom bought me at the Limited. I wore that with a silk vest over it. I’ve also worn flannel mini shorts with black tights and knee-high boots. Oh, and cowboy ankle boots.
A: What she’s not telling you about is her wellies. Every time there’s even the slightest chance of rain, she wears them. 99% of the time, it doesn’t rain—it’s hilarious! As for me, the list would include cowboy boots. I’m not doing them now, but since they’ve come back in, I don’t feel so bad about this one. I’ve also done the French rolling of my jeans with baggy socks. More recently, just a couple weeks ago, I wore these Moschino plaid pants to Fashion Week. I felt like I had pajamas on. I don’t think I’ll ever wear them again.
O: What are you inspired by?
A: I get all worked up about magazines, movies, television, and current events. Pieces of everything inspire me. On the streets of New York, I love people watching. I’m also inspired when I’m meeting the individual I’m dressing. What’s interesting is that our work is so current because it’s TV. We go to Fashion Week every year, but then we use the trends in our own way to make it work for real life. We’re dressing real people.
E: I second that.
O: What are your favorite designers?
A: Stella. We also just saw Versace’s fall collection, which is taking a totally different turn. Francisco Costa taking over the house at Calvin Klein is also doing a great job. My specific favorite, though, has to be Diane von Furstenberg. Her designs are comfortable, wearable, and the patterns are fun. I have four or five of her wrap dresses. But if I had to pick a designer that I look to for inspiration season after season, I ‘d go with Carolina Herrera. She doesn’t ever do wrong.
E: Me too! Beyond that, I’m a huge Proenza Schouler fan. I love the structure and how well everyone seems to fit in it. I also love Narcisco Rodriguez for his simplicity and Michael Kors for his versatility.
O: What up and coming trends do you see?
A&E: Dresses, especially floral, feminine, and A-line styles; shorts of different lengths; nautical (short lived?); simple, solid colors; menswear inspired looks like high waisted, vests, and trousers; necklaces with a lots of layers; gold jewelry; feminine, layered pieces. Jeans are also here to stay. You can wear them anywhere.
O: And what’s going Out of style?
A: The shrug look—it’ll be around for a bit, but it’s going out. Also, peasant skirts, and the miniskirt Ugg look. And the big wooden necklaces that everyone’s wearing. Big necklaces and large bangles, à la Nicole Richie, are going out. Vintage, however, will stick around.
E: But I think Uggs will be back. Not in the form they’re in right now. They’ll have to evolve, but I think they’ll get big again.
O: Last words?
A: I love my job!
E: I feel the same way. However, a lot of my friends think I work in this glamorous environment, going to shows. In reality, though, it’s a lot of work.
A: We love our jobs and interacting with people. However, it is work. We enjoy it and we’re grateful for it, but we’re here from 9 am – 7 pm, and there’s a lot of schlepping, and hard physical work. It’s not as glamorous as one might think, but we live for it. For anyone who is interested in styling or fashion, they should definitely pursue it. There are so many opportunities. You can start your own line, or start styling by making over people you know and go from there.
April 4th, 2006
Designer isn’t the only occupation on Parris Harris’ resume–fashion event organizing is also his forte. Whether he’s directing models to strut in that certain way, figuring out the budget of his next fashion show, or designing and constructing clothes, Harris is innovative and funky. Although his designs are out there, we definitely appreciate his ability to think outside the box.
Omiru: How did you get started in fashion design?
Parris: Once upon a time, a being by the name of Parris Harris had a love affair with the need to express. This being searched high places like Macy’s Christmas catalog and Kmart’s Super Store and low places like the depth of his soul. I had a love affair with the need to express, especially in places that call for fabulous attire like night clubs, red carpet world premieres, and Texas horse stalls. Overalls can be hot, and if you look hot, your animals may be more responsive to you. You heard it here first, folks. Write it down.
Long story short, I needed outfits, and I first started dressing myself. Fashion or clothing is one of my paints of choice and people’s bodies are notebook pads or expensive pieces of paper to pour all the lovely paints on.
What’s interesting is that circumstances suggest what to wear. They can DOWNRIGHT dress you. Poverty, pride, mourning, death, opulence, regret, sorrow, thug life, wealth, punkness, weddings, racism, hate, conservativeness, etc. I’ve always been observant of how people respond to what others wear and how we act in what we wear. If a 27-year-old accountant went dressed in an Armani suit one day, rags the next, overalls the third, and a Vivienne Westwood couture gown on Thursday, there is a good chance she would be received differently each time based on appearance alone. At some point of my existence, that realization grabbed my attention and kept it.
O: From where do you get your inspiration?
P: From the stars and the moon and the grass that minds its own business and doesn’t bother anybody and just grows. Again, in some way, poverty, pride, mourning, death, opulence, regret, sorrow, thug life, wealth, punkness, weddings, racism, hate, and the conservative all offer inspiration. The power of fashion, the fun aspect, the silliness, the history, the emotions it instills, the actors it suggests, the silence it speaks. Fashion can protect, intimidate, and demean through appearance alone. I’m a sucker for art in unexpected places (performance art) There’s all that to inspire and then some.
O: What is your design philosophy?
P: 1. Make the outrageous understandable, functional, obtainable, and within reach.
2. Make the simple scream while silent (as it does so often) and perhaps cause you to feel that feeling we get when we wished we had looked closer.
3. To cause one to enjoy and appreciate being annoyed (Love thy dreadful neighbor).
4. Make destruction beautiful to the look and acceptable regardless.
5. To enjoy just being dressed.
6. To cause you to enjoy the ugly and never want to be beautiful again.
7. Make the average girls of the club and world, boring, poor, looney and punk, as hot and sexy as the tall, blond, blue eyed, and vice versa.
8. Club wear at the office.
9. To make arty, magnificently animated, nonsense garments.
10. And of course all the other deliciously boring things like making a woman feel feminine or help a gentleman’s outsides match his ego.
O: Thoughts on the San Francisco design scene?
P: Hot, Hot, Hot….Japan mixed with NY and Paris. It’s unaware of its fashion potential. It has the freedom of Paris to wear what you want. It’s courageous. It has trendsetters on the DL (down low) so comfortable in their skin.
O: Who are your favorite designers?
P: Vivienne Westwood, Diesel, Cov’et, Channel, Jncos, Armani, Jimmy Choo, Alberta Ferretti, V.W., Serious, Snoop Dog Clothing, Outkast Clothing, Sean John, Moschino.
O: What trends do you foresee for Spring 2006?
P: New is the new. Pink isn’t going anywhere. Trashy glam with new cuts and lace. Hip Hop Couture. Men in hip, witty, sporty blazers with patches, torn seams, etc. Office meets baseball court in the work place. Punk Proms. Golf Couture. Men in smarter stripes that pop. Women in gowns before 5 p.m. again. The 1700’s revisited, but this time, women in gowns at the water cooler, walking to get the mail, in the mall, and at soccer practice.
O: Last words?
P: I love how clothing can be so accessible. Every day or every moment (depends on the person), we are blessed with the opportunity to change our clothes again…and create again. Is that great, or what?
April 3rd, 2006
With so many printed tees out there, it’s hard to distinguish the posers from the originators. Wonder no more because Local Celebrity, a family owned company (sister Andi is designer for Rebel Yell) is the real deal. And if you don’t buy it, check out the "Posers" section on the Local Celebrity website. Omiru had the pleasure of chatting with Jordan, one-third of the sibling trio. Not only did he set the record straight, but he also let us in on their humble roots and described who a Local Celebrity is.
Omiru: How and when did your interest in fashion design start?
Jordan: For me, it was kind of random and not planned at all. My sister Andi [of Rebel Yell] has a fashion degree, my brother has a business degree, and I’m the youngest of the family. I worked at Abercrombie [& Fitch] and retail stores like that, so I always liked clothes, but I never really thought I would end up in the fashion industry. Then we started Local Celebrity and found ourselves in LA 2 years later.
O: When did Local Celebrity come about, and why did you decide to focus on t-shirts?
J: We got a screen printing machine and lived at our grandmother’s house in San Diego and printed t-shirts out of a barn for close to a year. Urban Outfitters was our first account, and they started ordering and needed to really pick up the distribution of the production. We partnered with a production facility, and the rest is history.
O: Who comes up with the concepts for the t-shirts?
J: Primarily it’s me and my brother, but every once in a while, our designer will come up with a good concept or Andi will throw something in there.
O: How many t-shirts do you come up with per season?
J: We haven’t really been working in seasons. We’ve just been making t-shirts. Ones that sell well, we keep around. Ones that don’t, we just discontinue and replace with another one. We try to get at least 10 a month to our showroom.
O: What makes your collection unique?
J: When we started, it was very unique. We feel like we really influenced the market for humor t-shirts. But now everybody and their mother has a humor t-shirt company. So we stepped it up. It’s not so much clip art and words anymore because that’s everywhere, and we’re tired of seeing it, and we don’t want to wear it. Our shirts have more flavor than other companies. Most of our competition in the humor t-shirt market sell shirts with sexual innuendos, and they talk about getting drunk, partying, and really just the whole college lifestyle (therefore mainly targeting college kids). We try to "rise above" that and keep our shirts clean and wearable for everybody. We want them a little more thought provoking, confidence inspiring, and flavorful.
O: From where do you draw your inspiration?
J: Everywhere. A lot of pop culture and hip hop. Mainly, I like to draw inspiration from music. Everyone can have a Local Celebrity shirt because there’s an occasion for every one of our shirts. Music reaches everybody. We also have random personalities in our family, so we draw inspiration from each other.
O: Describe your collection.
J: We have fleece, canvas slip on shoes, and hats that are being produced right now, and within the next few months, we’re working on producing long sleeves, thermals, and tank tops.
O: What stores are you sold in?
J: A good list of stores that we’re in are Kitson, Atrium, The Lounge, Urban Outfitters, Hollywood Stars, and Delias.
O: Who wears your t-shirts and who do you want to see in them?
J: We have DJs rocking our stuff, we’ve got Delias customers, and Hot Topic customers. We just want people to wear our stuff and feel confident. Our customer is anyone who keeps it real, anyone who’s cool, has flavor, personality, charisma.
O: From where did you get the name Local Celebrity?
J: It was pretty random. My sister actually came up with it. When it first started, it was called TheVeryBestTshirts.com. We were trying to brainstorm, and it just came to my sister I think when she was going to bed one night. We love it!
O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?
J: I’d definitely rescue my dog, Champ, before I grabbed anything else. He’s a 4 1/2 pound miniature pinscher, and I could never leave him behind. The fire can have my clothes (I have a clothing company, so there’s plenty to go around, and I’d probably already be wearing my Local Celebrity hoodie).
O: Last words?
J: We really wish that people could get to know us because we are the best representatives for the company. That, and our t-shirts are really cool. They have flavor, personality, and it takes a really cool person to wear our stuff.
Get Local Celebrity goods at www.localcelebrity.net.
March 31st, 2006
Billion Dollar Babes: Kate Nobelius and Shelli-Anne Couch
Photo Credits: Billion Dollar Babes
Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of attending a Billion Dollar Babes sample sale, you’ve probably heard amazing things
about it from friends who have. A two-day, invitation-only event held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and
London, Billion Dollar Babes attracts roughly 4,000 fashion lovers, who
compete with other shoppers for styles by more than 40 designer labels like Alex Gaines, Blue Cult, Chaiken, Catherine Malandrino, Costume National, Christian Dior, and more.
Not to burst any
shopping bubbles, but did you think the tons of fabulous outfits get
there by themselves? A lot of hard work goes into organizing an event of such scale. Shelli-Anne Couch
of parent company Couch Nobelius is
a major reason for BDB’s success thus far. She and partner Kate
Nobelius handle every aspect of the process, including event
strategy, sponsorship, sourcing, guest list compilation,
pre-event publicity and celebrity outreach (it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!).
Omiru had the opportunity to ask Shelli-Anne–an award winning journalist herself–a few questions about organizing such a massive event.
How did you start your business?
In a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood with the grand total of one laptop, two phones, one fat contact book and a lot of chutzpah!
What did you have to do to get started?
we just bought items (ie: a printer, another computer as we could
afford them). Strategically, we solidified our film premiere event
production stable while nurturing a fashion idea (that was to become
the global brand of Billion Dollar Babes).
What are some challenges you face as a fashion event organizer?
common sense is underated. Seriously. People put square pegs in round
holes all the time! Also, people are never on time.
What’s a day in the life of a fashion event organizer like?
between the fashion client and the media, setting up interviews pre- and
post- runway show, and setting up shoots of the collections.
What do you do to satisfy your clients?
all about setting and maintaining expectations. When a fashion client
signs on and part of the wishlist is two celebs wearing their clothes
per month and one fashion cover, then by golly, you have to achieve that.
Would you say fashion event organizers wear multiple hats? If so, what are they?
Oh golly, yes. You’re the creative director, publicist, nursemaid, best friend, disciplinarian, and accountant.
How much can one expect to earn as a fashion event organizer?
The sky’s the limit. Some events cost upwards of $500,000 to produce and you’re earning 20 percent of that.
Do some fashion event organizers get paid more?
Absolutely. Why? They’re better! Their client liaison skills meet their creativity
and execution skills, all within the fiscal parameters. They bring an
event in on budget, on time and it looks wondrous.
The Billion Dollar Babes San Francisco sale will run 8am-6pm on Saturday, April 8 at Dogpatch Studios. Everyone is welcome to attend but guests must RSVP online at www.billiondollarbabes.com.
March 27th, 2006
One might think that a designer whose line is sold in
the celebrity-magnet boutique Kitson might be a bit of a diva, but Andi
Ballard of Rebel Yell is as down-to-earth as they come. Even despite
her living in the crazy city of Los Angeles, the Virginia-born Ballard
admits to being a bit of a homebody and doesn’t get star struck by her
celebrity clientele. Omiru got a chance to chat with Andi while she was
sitting through LA traffic.
How and when did your interest in fashion design start?
is going to sound so corny, but I knew what I wanted to do my whole
life. I would make clothes for myself, and they looked so ghetto
because I’d make them out of towel and whatever I could find around the
house. It was quite a spectacle. I graduated from high school at 16 so
I could start my fashion thing quicker, and I went to FIT in NY. I
graduated from college at 18, and I worked various design jobs in NY
for about 4 years.
What makes your collection unique?
designer is going to interpret something differently. So I would say
that the uniqueness is mainly the way I see things and the way I decide
to interpret them. I love bold colors, I love really really simple
clean graphics, really simple easy clothes.
What are you inspired by?
am primarily inspired by anything and everything vintage. But I am also
inspired by what I want to wear. I love vintage clothes, but I steer
away from them because I just feel like a haggard when I wear them.
However, my love of vintage shows in the details I add into Rebel
Yell. I try to make Rebel Yell clothes more updated. It just makes a
woman feel better about wearing vintage.
Do you follow trends?
I follow fashion because
I’m a girl and I shop like crazy. In that sense I know what’s going on
trendwise, and I also know when I want something and it doesn’t exist.
It’s very helpful when you’re a designer because you can then design
it. But do I follow trends? No. My previous experience as a designer
when I was in New York was all about using the trend books to do all
the forecasting. A few of my bosses actually told me ‘You cannot do
your original design. You have to knock off blah blah blah.’ And so now
that I have my own company, I definitely made a conscious decision to
not follow trends.
Can you describe what pieces are in your collection and who wears your collection?
pieces in my collection are causal, mainly made out of cotton:
T-shirts, different types of cute sexy tops for women, and hoodies. We
have really cute coordinating hoodies with sweatpants that are coming
out. It’s mainly a casualwear collection. But it’s definitely for
someone with style. I don’t really want to see it on people that just
wear what’s on the mannequin. I want someone with their own personal
If you were to design a new product line to add to your current business, what would it be?
am dying to get into sweaters and into underwear. I’m itching to do
that, and that’s the next step. I just want really cute … the problem
is that companies put out really fun and cute stuff, but it feels
cheap. On the other hand, a company can put out really good quality
stuff but it’s so boring and typical. I want to do a hybrid.
How has your style evolved over time?
doesn’t really. It kind of stayed the same. I’m super t-shirt and
jeans. Six-and-a-half days a week, I’m wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
Do you care about what you wear?
I don’t have time to think about what I wear, and that’s part of what
Rebel Yell is too. It should be something that doesn’t take too much
thought. You throw it on and feel good about how you look.
your definition of style?
think everybody can have style if they want to, but I think there’s a
lot of people that don’t right now. I would define style as when
someone puts an outfit together and it looks good even if it’s not
something that you would necessarily put together. Style is when you
look at the outfit on them and it matches their personality.
If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?
Ok, am I naked when my house is burning down or am I fully clothed?
That’s a very good question. I think you’re naked.
bath robe (laughs). I don’t know if I’m naked. I would say because I’m
such a simple girl, and I’m always in a t-shirt and jeans, I would grab
my Mr. T gold chain. It jazzes up any outfit I’m wearing.
What does Rebel Yell mean?
It just popped into my head. My favorite rollercoaster as a kid was called Rebel Yell [in Virginia]. It fit.
I noticed you did your Spring launch party at Kitson in LA. How did you go about making that happen?
just gotten great support from very successful and talented people and
[Kitson owner] Fraser [Ross] is one of them. He’s one of our biggest
supporters. We were having lunch with him one day, and he suggested the
idea of a party. It’s something we had been thinking about too, so it
just made sense.
What stores is Rebel Yell in?
Kitson, Lounge, Intermix. We’re in all the boutiques I’ve ever wanted to be in.
Do you have a website?
We don’t. We’re
debating about whether or not to do one. I think we will eventually, but
I don’t know. Something about having a website weirds me out. I feel
like all of a sudden there’s no mystery left if people know too much
about Rebel Yell.
Like what you see? Shop for Rebel Yell gear at Kitson!
March 22nd, 2006