Written By , on August 2, 2008

2008 is the year to give and this line is right on track. Dominique Coq Vassallo, founder and designer of Domini Jewelry handcrafts an amazing fashion jewelry collection with a greater purpose in mind. With all pieces made completely by hand, 15% of all its retail sales go to various charitable organizations, such as Water for Life, Smile of a Child and presently the Carma Foundation. The Carma Foundation founded by R&B artist Melky Jean, benefits improving the health of women and children in poverty-stricken areas of Haiti. Of Haitian descent herself, this designer uses her classical music training, faith, Haitian heritage and American experience to fashion her eclectic pieces. All pieces are created using semiprecious stones, glass beading, silver; yellow gold or gold- filled wiring to create a collection that is aesthetically beautiful. I had a chance to sit with the designer and get a better viewpoint of the collection and its efforts. `

PD: Recently, you have worked with the Carma Foundation. Can you tell me more about this project? In addition, will you do more projects like this in the future?

DV: Carma, is a foundation created by R&B Soulstress Melky Jean, Wyclef Jean’s sister. The foundation benefits the poor and the vulnerable women and children of Haiti. It has actually been dubbed, the female response to Wyclef Jean’s, Yele Haiti foundation.

DOMINI has partnered with the Carma Foundation to create an exclusive, urban chic collection, under $100, where 50% of the profits go to help to raise funds for the massive catalytic mission of the foundation. All the pieces can be purchased at www.dominijewelry.com.

There will even be a feature on the site where everyone can submit photos of themselves in the collection to be uploaded along side of some of our favorite Iconic Hollywood and Music figures, who will also be doing the “DOMINI for CARMA” collection.

PD: I understand you were working with Melky Jean; Wyclef Jean’s sister on this project…how was that?

DV: It’s really great! It’s a long-term project, for which I am really grateful. Melky is so kind to me. She has a great heart and is so full of love, I immediately felt right at home from start of my involvement in this project.

PD: What else have you been working on recently?

DV: I have been working with various local non-profit initiatives that match DOMINI’s mission.

PD: When you first decided to start your own collection, did you think that you would be presented with such an opportunity?

DV: I was definitely believing for projects like this to raise the awareness of the power within us all to respond to world poverty through our own gifts and talents.

PD: Global warming is a real issue and many designers from ready- to-wear to the accessories/ jewelry markets are incorporating green methods- such as, using recycled elements to produce pieces in their collection, etc. Will you implement these ideals as part of your collections and if so, how?

DV: I already have, since the company’s inception! The very nature of the company is green (GIVING BACK TO OUR GLOBAL COMMUNITY). It is the very reason why our company was invited to participate in the “eco-friendly” Academy Award suites in 2007 (this was the companies official debut). In addition, it is company policy that measures are taken to ensure that all raw materials are acquired through a socially responsible supply chain. As we grow, we will increase these measures through packaging and other means.

PD: Does your passion for giving back influence your designs and are you working on a new collection now?

DV: It is the very reason that the company was birthed. As I stared helplessly during a charity infomercial, I thought to myself, charities should not have to beg. Ironically, a charity infomercial is what started my endeavor to use my artistry to empower others when I was seven.

‘As a multifaceted artist, I answered the call with
what was in my ability, at the time, jewelry.’

Since the jewelry is handmade. A lot of heart and thought goes into every piece: its purpose, the people it benefits, the campaign that will raise its awareness, the story it will tell. For instance, the collection for the CARMA Foundation. “KARMA” is based on the principle that what you give is what you get. When one wears the act that she/he believes from the exclusive collection: LOVE, LIVE, HOPE, DREAM, he/she will in turn, be committing that very act by providing food, clean water, medicine, education, jobs, empowerment for the poor and vulnerable women and children of Haiti through the 50% donation from their purchase.

PD: Are there any designers in particular that inspired you to start your collection?

DV: No, I didn’t even know any designers when I first started. I never really thought to hard about jewelry. Truly, the collection was birthed out of the desire to meet the dire needs of world poverty with what I had.

PD: Along with being a designer, you are a wife and mother…how do you balance this all out?

DV: I am still working on that!

PD: What obstacles do you face being a designer and what do you do to separate yourself from the rest?

DV: I literally started this company with nothing, no loans, nothing. As with every venture, there are risks involved with the hope of progression, so I definitely made some mistakes and hit major obstacles. That said, I would have to say, coming to a place of balance in every area of my life.

In addition, the dichotomy of business and philanthropy can sometimes be challenging because of the equal importance both sides demand. As for designing, I go with my heart, if I feel like I am trying too hard, I just stop.

Visit Domini Jewelry online at www.dominijewlery.com

And now a word from

Written By , on August 2, 2008

Sonia Pereira Murphy interviews “lip-erneur”, Poppy King.

Poppy King is what Simon Doonan would describe as a Wacky Chick. At the tender age of 18, Ms. King decided someone needed to fill the cosmetic void where matte lipstick should be, so she started her own company, Poppy Industries. Pretty soon the glamorous retro-inspired lipsticks were all the rage and Poppy found herself as famous as Cherries in the Snow (one of Revlon’s 1st red lipsticks from the 1950’s). She now has a well-received new lipstick line, “Lipstick Queen,” which offers both glossy and matte lipsticks and has recently written a book all about her travails in the business world.

Poppy King

Sonia Pereira Murphy (SPM): When did you first start your love affair with lipstick? What did you like about it? What sets lipstick apart from other make-up in terms of what it can do for a woman’s “look”?

Poppy King (PK): When I was seven years-old and I played dress up with my mom’s lipsticks. I immediately felt transformed into a world of glamour and sophistication…like a super hero. Lipstick is the most iconic of all female cosmetics…nothing says female like lipstick. It connects women to an ancient ritual which defines our gender. It is a very powerful product.

SPM: Your new line, Lipstick Queen, is divided into Saints and Sinners. Who in history best exemplifies (in your opinion) the quintessential Saint wearer/Sinner wearer?

PK: SINNER – would have to be Louise Brooks
SAINT – Ophelia (from Shakespeare)

SPM: What do you find so captivating about matte? Why are there so few matte options today when in the past it was really all the rage?

PK: I love the depth of pigment in matte lipstick, the fullness of the product and the strong statement it makes. My idea of matte is not dry but moist and still full of pigment. I think that people today obsess with technological developments and sometimes discard great things from the past (like matte lipstick) because it doesn’t seem advanced enough.

SPM: Do you think retro glamour is making a comeback for good?
PK: I think dignity is making a comeback after years of “stars behaving badly”. Dignity is often associated with retro glamour. I think these days there is no one trend that prevails, it is more about different options and the retro glam option is becoming more prominent.

SPM: How did you choose Aubrey Beardsley’s art for your packaging?

PK: I love the foreboding beauty of Beardsley. It has the same dichotomy as a poppy flower. There is an innocent side and a dark side. Like all of us.

SPM: Which of your lipsticks do you wear every day?

PK: I am the direct opposite of the majority of women. My go to, everyday shade is Red Sinner. I wear red lipstick like chapstick. I slick it on with no make up and go.

SPM: How do you suggest wearing red lipstick to the office or (in my case) playground without looking too “done” ?

PK: I hinted to the secret to red lipstick above…wear it with minimal eye make up. It doesn’t have to be none like I do. Just the least amount you are comfortable with. Red looks chic and casual that way.

SPM: What led you to write Lessons of a Lipstick Queen, a book about what you’ve learned in the business world?

PK: I have been asked hundreds maybe thousands of times over the years how I managed to start my own lipstick brand at 18 years of age with no head start of training or funding. So I broke my story down into steps for the reader to follow so that they could apply it to their own ideas.

SPM: You have quite a sense of style. Have you ever thought of starting a fashion line? (I know you love bags!)

PK: Thank you for the compliment. The only fashion item I would consider designing (other than hand bags because they are a huge collection of mine) would be sweaters. I really get frustrated with the sweaters out there and think there could be a glam/chic collection to fill that need.

SPM: If you could personally apply your lipstick on anyone, living or dead, famous or not, who would it be? And what color?

PK: Eva Peron (Evita). Of course, I would apply Red Sinner!

And now a word from

Written By , on July 1, 2008

Considering the now ubiquitous trend of disposable fashion where all that seems to matter is a cute factor, Thomas Voorn’s intellectual take on clothing is not only refreshing, but enlightening. Voorn’s fascination with clothing calls to mind an anthropologist intrigued with skeletal remains, a sociologist swept up by human behavior, and an artist in love with his jolie laide muse. In other words, his passion for clothing involves more than love for color and fabric. Rather, it includes the love for humanity in all its absurdity as well.

Thomas Voorn

Sonia Pereira Murphy (SPM):I notice that you have an extensive educational background in fashion and fine art. When did you start showing an interest in fashion?

Thomas Voorn (TV): When I studied conceptual art (mixed media) at AKI Art & Design Academy in Holland in the mid-’90’s, I started to work with fabric; buying on purpose fabrics that I found really ugly and trying to make beautiful things out of these ugly fabrics. While I was working with these fabrics I discovered I started to love them, not only to work with them, but also their ugly prints and colors. Then I discovered how fascinating fashion can be. I find it interesting that fashion is an area where everyone has an opinion about; everyone wears clothes and at least has something to say about it. During my studies at the AKI in Holland I combined fashion and fine art in my work. For example, I embroidered clothes on projected half-naked people, dressing them in a ‘new way.’ In my final year, I decided to graduate at the fashion department and applied at Saint Martin’s in London to fully study Fashion Design. And to be honest when I was 11 years old I already started to make a wedding dress out of an old white bed sheet with a tire from a bike for volume at the hem, etc. Fitting this dress on a little friend of mine to make the shape right and I made a little bikini tops & bottoms out of a white cotton vest.

SPM:I love that you did that as a little kid! You state that you have a “fascination for the language and identity of clothes.” Can you elaborate on this?

TV: I find clothes and “dressing behavior” really interesting as part of (non-verbal) communication. We say so much with what we wear. I am very interested in the ‘identity’ of clothes and stereotypical associations that garments, colors and prints (but also cut and detailing) can evoke. A shirt, for example, gets such a different ‘identity’ if you only change the collar of it. I like to contradict these ‘associations at first glance.’

SPM:Your recent lines of menswear feature bright floral pastels… what’s your inspiration? You also call a line “Coming Home.” Is this a reference to your own personal background?

TV: In the fashion series Coming Home I am searching for a contemporary clash and match in which the pictures are ‘the work,’ not the clothes; they are just a tool. After having done sales and London off-schedule collection presentations during the OsvoMode period, I decided to sell my services rather then my products. The autonomous work like the ‘Coming Home Series’ I make is a showcase of my style and abilities for these design & styling services.

In 2006 we decided, after making 7 collections, to stop our high fashion label OsvoMode. It is difficult to make enough money as an independent young design label, even if you have stockists and a sales agent in Japan, as we did.When I retreated into my studio for one year in (January) 2007 to make new work and bread on what I would do next, I decided that my new brand should be a visualization of myself and started to take my own dressing behavior as starting point for new work. That also meant that I would do more for men’s fashion. I always wear quite colorful clothes myself, and have always had a fascination for prints and colors. So that is how my menswear series ‘coming-home’ started. And it did feel like coming home!
In the ongoing ‘coming home series’ I focus on my search for a contemporary clash and match in color and print on a ‘small scale’. I use the traditional ‘mug shot’ to let the color and print combination take over the picture rather than the garment being the most important in the image. Placing mainly traditional feminine floral prints, and mixing these with other colors and prints to create a new fashionable sense of masculinity. Exploring the boundaries of taste and beauty – masculinity and femininity – slick and home made imagery.

SPM:Many of the shirts also feature a 60’s vibe that borders on mod. Does music or fashion from the past influence your work?

TV:In my work I am always looking to make a fashion statement, but use an autonomous way of working and thinking about fashion, clothes and dressing-behavior to create imagery. My main influences are people on the streets that are not aware of what they are wearing and communicating with their clothes. Fascinating.And I have a fetish for colors and prints. I only have to go to a fabric store to get inspired.

SPM:How did you meet Jeanette and start OsvoMode?

TV:During our studies, fashion design womenswear, at Central Saint Martins in London, we did one collection together in our 2nd year. After our graduation we decided to start our own idealistic fashion label based on our vision of fashion: to challenge what contemporary beauty is in High Fashion and to make fashion more ethical by using organic fabrics for high fashion designs (this was in 2002, so before the whole organic fashion trend started!).

SPM:Osvomode’s mission states you prefer to make clothes you “have to get used to.”How much is challenging standards of beauty a part of your designing process?

TV:I’ve been pushing the boundaries of contemporary fashion aesthetics in my work for quite a few years. I enjoy trying to expand the idea of what contemporary fashion can be and exploring what could be entitled as ‘a new sense of beauty.’ While I was studying fashion ten years ago I worked with fabric combinations that were ‘unusual.’ I was looking for a friction between colors and prints to make one question what represents beauty or not. I explored how you can apply color and print in an outfit and how you can play with them proportion-wise to balance on the edge. In the collections of the high fashion label OsvoMode (2002/2003-2006), which I founded with Jeanette Osterried, we worked from the concept that our designs did not have to represent beauty at first glance. Designing garments that you might have to get used to in time. Exploring where beauty ends and ugliness begins and in that way extending the way one can perceive beauty in the fashion industry. In contrast to for example music where we are much more used to listening to an album a few times before actually appreciating it, we applied this thought on fashion collections.

SPM:While your own label showcases menswear that might be deemed feminine, OsvoMode carries some masculine-influenced women’s pieces. Do you enjoy toying with androgyny or gender in your work?


SPM:The OsvoMode wear is also markedly different from your men’s wear in regard to color. Were the new florals a reaction to OsvoMode’s solids and muted shades?

TV:During my studies I already worked a lot with colors and prints. With OsvoMode we were limited because there were not yet a lot of different fabrics / colors in organic quality. If you look at the OsvoMode S/S ‘04 collection, we still used quite some colorful/printed synthetics, but later on we wanted to go more organic with very little choice in colorful fabrics.

SPM:What would you say to a potential male client who’s attracted to one of your floral shirts but is afraid he can’t pull it off?

TV:Combined with simple grey or white jeans, a guy can pull it off anytime.
At the moment the clothes are not for sale. (Unless there is a HUGE order coming in!) But my styling & design services are for sale, just go to my website, www.thomasvoorn.com, and place a booking under ‘bookings and enquiries’. (Mr. Voorn supplies his services to companies only and not to private individuals.)

SPM:Osvomode also features avant-garde pieces with draping and raw edges. Do you see your own line moving in that direction? Where does Thomas Voorn seem to be heading in the future?

TV: Continue making my own work, exhibiting, publishing, and continuing my freelance projects in design, styling/art direction and consultancy for fashion companies, fashion magazines, advertising agencies, film and theatre. And when I feel it is right to do raw edges and drapes again …I definitely will.

For more on Thomas Voorn please visit: T H O M A S V O O R N . C O M

And now a word from

Written By , on June 2, 2008

Vintage-inspired clothing has long been leaking its way into mainstream fashion. Exemplified by such glamour pusses as Dita Von Teese, this pin-up Old Hollywood type of chic oozes sex appeal and elegance. For years one label, Stop Staring!, has been at the forefront of this retro-tinged trend and as a result, has been embraced by rockabilly girls and trendy celebs all over the world. I asked Stop Staring! founder and designer, Alicia Estrada, some questions about her interest in vintage clothing and in where Stop Staring! is soon to be heading.

How didyou start designing?

I started sewing when I was 17 years old. I love to sew and design dresses. Loving what you do is the secret to success!

What’s your earliest designing memory?

Making a 1960s inspired miniskirt out of a plastic shower curtain, and then painting "Stop Staring!" across the back of the skirt. It was the biggest hit
and everyone wanted one.

Fun! When did you do this and what inspired you to?

Back in my college days, what inspired me was just dressing hip and cool and trying to wear something completely different then the norm of the time. I was really
into the punk scene at the time, and loved to mix punk with retro 60s. I wanted to look punk, but sexy and feminine at the same time.

So, how and why did you get into the retro scene?

In college I made my own wardrobe inspired by 1960’s mod looks, then later I started to design 50’s inspired dresses. Now I’m designing 1940’s inspired dresses. It really has been a natural progression, nothing planned. I have always wanted to look different. So when people started to wear 60’s retro, then I just naturally changed by wearing 50’s retro.

I can’t imagine you in 60s retro. It seems so different from 50’s and 40’s… what did you like about the 60’s pieces?

The retro 60’s style was very sexy, tight, and short, it was very young and very mod. Think miniskirts, leopard cigarette pants, and sexy doll dresses. The 1950’s are very sexy too, only it is very classy and conservative. With age, I just naturally started to dress more conservative and demure. Again, as the retro 60’s became more of a mainstream thing, I just moved onto something different. As a designer, I get bored really easy, so I just have to keep on reinventing

Why do you think people are so drawn to retro lately?

Because it is so classic and timeless. It is a reminder of the innocent times of yesteryear. It was a time of ultra glamour and timeless beauty.

Does anyone in the music/film industry influence you?

Yes of course! When Paris Hilton wore my dresses on her European tour, the demand for my sexy bombshell dresses went through the roof! So it really pushed me in the direction of sexy cocktail dresses. Of course when I started designing 50’s retro, I was really into the rockabilly scene. Exene from X wears my dresses on stage. Now that’s cool. I grew up listening to X.

I love X! And Exene is one of the most fashionable women ever! That must have been amazing! Are there any current musicians you’d like dress?

Yes, I would love to see Gwen Stefani in Stop Staring! I met Gwen at Cal State Fullerton. We both attended at the same time! I actually saw No Doubt play before they became famous. Gwen actually wrote a song called "Stop Staring!". I wonder if she wrote this about me? I was actually wearing skirts with
"Stop Staring!" splattered across the back. I used to get so much attention during my Cal State days. People loved Stop Staring!

How do you explain the fierce brand loyalty of your fans?

Stop Staring! dresses are so classy, timeless, and sexy. Girls just love the comfort and ease of an incredible fit, and of course all the positive attention. Stop Staring!
is known to turn heads. Stop Staring! is known for beautiful dresses with a great fit.

Do you like designing dress or separates best?

Dresses of course. They are so easy to wear and no fuss about coordinating separates, especially when you are in a hurry. These days everyone is in a hurry.

Have you thought of expanding to shoes and accessories?

Yes, this is in the works.

Could you tell me anything else about your expansion? Or is this top secret?

Yes, we have dabbled into purses, and so far they are making a big splash. Shoes are definitely next in line. We have such an overwhelming demand for the Stop Staring! branded shoes. It’s just a matter of time before we actually launch this!

Visit Stop Staring! online at www.stopstaringclothing.com

And now a word from

Written By , on April 2, 2008

Jewelry designers are a dime a dozen. The barrier to entry is lower than the fashion industry. It’s something very simple to do. The mastery of jewelry design is a completely different matter. Schools pour over the complexities of classical jewelry design and metallurgy. This is what led us to Bridget Lynne.

This jewelry designer is completely aware of her uphill fight in getting the word out about her creations. But that word is slowly breaking through the din of noise that is the crowded jewelry design field. The one major essential thing that she has on her side, is that her work is elegant and all at once beautiful. We had a chance to ask her a couple of questions about her design efforts, her current collection’s direction and the future.

What was your earliest jewelry design moment?

My earliest jewelry design moment was when I was in the 6th grade and I thought it would be a great idea to string some beads on fishing line and make necklaces for my friends. Luckily, the craftsmanship of my work has developed over the years and I no longer use fishing line!

Can anyone wear your designs?

Really, anyone can wear my designs. I strive to make them very wearable, because I don’t want women to be intimidated by the idea of accessorizing, which I know is definitely a problem most run into. My jewelry is for the woman who wants to feels glamorous and confident without spending a lot of money.

Tell us what a typical day for Bridget Lynne is like.

A typical day for Bridget Lynne…hmmm… I’m not sure there is such a thing as normalcy when a 2 year old child is involved. Basically, I wake up early to get my daughter up and ready for daycare. Once I return to my home studio, I go through all of the orders that I need to prepare. After I’ve done that, I set out to imagine some new designs. Sometimes that starts with me staring at the beautiful stones I have collected, or with me forming and soldering a component first. Other times, designs just come to me when I am driving in the car or lying in bed at night. I spend a lot of time in the studio doing all the metal smithing stuff. This entails cutting metals, forming, soldering and polishing. Sometimes I don’t get to bed until 2 a.m. in the morning. Unfortunately, I am a night owl which drives my husband crazy! I just tell him that there is always work to be done – somewhere there is someone waiting for a beautiful piece of jewelry! Despite the crazy hours and insane work, I couldn’t be happier. It sounds cliché but I’m literally living my dream.

There are a million and four jewelry designers out there, what separates you from the rest?

One thing that separates me from the rest of the crowd is the fact that I hand make nearly all of my creations and absolutely nothing in my line is mass produced. This creates an opportunity for me to connect with my buyers on a personal level. When they buy a piece from me, they know that it is actually made by me.

What do you obsess about?

I obsess about perfection; I really am the ultimate perfectionist. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve worked on something – if it’s not perfect, I have to redo it. I think that people appreciate that and as a consumer myself I take pride in the items I choose to wear. It’s an extension of my personality and who I am. In addition to jewelry, I am definitely obsessive about handbags and shoes, as many other women are. There are few feelings that beat stumbling upon that perfectly crafted piece, it really is exhilarating.

What’s your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness is handbags, shoes and jewelry. No question about it. They truly set you apart from the crowd. All you need to make an outfit is a stunning piece of jewelry, an interesting bag or a gorgeous pair of shoes.

Do your parents approve? Does it matter?

My parents have always supported the choices I made, even when they seemed crazy. If they didn’t approve it would definitely matter to me because I deeply respect them but, especially in the case of my jewelry, I would do it anyway. I am an independent spirit and I do not let go of ideas that I’ve nurtured and worked hard to bring to life.

Tell us about one indispensable person in your life and work?

If I had to divide the two between work and life I would without a doubt say my husband and daughter, respectively. My husband’s support, ideas, creativity and influence are essential. He’s a major factor in the success of Bridget Lynne Designs. My daughter Avery’s presence drives me to give her the best life I can. I do my best to accomplish that by being the best person I can be and returning to her the spectacular unconditional love she’s shown me.

What’s your approach to jewelry design?

My approach to jewelry design is surprisingly simple: make a unique piece with standout quality and the rest always falls into place.

Are you a gold girl or platinum or neither?

I am a gold, platinum and silver girl! My style is ever-changing; one week I’ll be wearing all silver and the next all gold. I like to experiment and I try to create a look that is all my own. In fact, I’ve been known to break the rules here and there and wear a combination of them all.

What fashion item works best with your designs?

Handbags work best with my designs. Every woman needs a great handbag to complement her jewelry. The two go hand in hand. Handbags are in some ways an extension of jewelry. A woman can be wearing the most beautiful outfit but without jewelry and a handbag, she is left looking like something’s missing.

When do you know that one of your designs is complete?

I know my designs are complete when my perfectionist self is satisfied. Sometimes this involves changing a style many, many times.

Is there a type of jewelry that you will never create?

I will never create cheap jewelry! And as everyone knows, jewelry can be cheap but still carry a hefty price tag. I will never create a piece that is not supported by true quality.

When do you think you will peak?

I think within the next year things are going to get big. I am finally getting my name out there and getting noticed. Truly, as long as I can keep designing and making jewelry for people – that’s all that matters.

Visit Bridget Lynne online at: bridgetlynnedesigns.com

And now a word from

Written By , on March 3, 2008

Video - Anne-Marie Michel

Interviewed by: Tenisha Anderson
Video: Anne-Marie Michel

Ask any designer about their experiences starting out and they may wince in shame. The painful first-time experiences of designers are completely common. There are so many different things that can be said to explain their not so ostentatious beginnings: the collection wasn’t ready, some of the invited guests did not show up, the model tripped, split the dress in half and bled to death. One of the three happened to emerging designer Satoshi Date, I’ll save the suspense, no models were harmed and the line was ready. But looking exclusively at the photos it can be said that Date’s line wasn’t commanding a Barack Obama-like crowd.

For a designer just making his bones in a treacherous industry, holding a fashion show to a relatively empty crowd could be a daunting and off-putting experience. Date rose to the occasion and created a Spring line is worth giving multiple looks and a pickup or two. While not completely polished, there is a genuine strong design ethic behind it. Almost everyone at Papierdoll cheers for the underdog and Date cemented his underdog status when towards the end of the show, with it not yet finished , the owners of the establishment where he held his show began wrapping it up by taking down his sign before he had a chance to take his congratulatory walk down the runway.

Still, Date’s show was impressive in the sense that he moved from being a graphic design artist to creating true-to life designs only recently. There’s promise in this designer and we definitely believe he has a future. His collection shows mastery of the female form, and understanding of texture. He also has the ability to use color and fabric to create great effects. This was all gleaned from one showing. We sat down with Date in his London studio and interviewed him on video to see what lies ahead for this talented young designer.

And now a word from

Written By , on February 1, 2008

Christine Rhee went from being an architectural design student to a full blown fashion designer. After seeing a preview of her fall 2008 collection, we’re convinced that no wardrobe will be complete with something from this new talent. Christine Rhee is one to watch.

Christine Rhee

Tell us about your design philosophy, looking at your line you definitely have one.

Sure. I firmly believe in clothes as symbols of what the wearer wishes to express. For me, it has a lot to do with the kind of woman that I would like to be viewed as/ aspire to be. For CRHEE, those qualities are specifically strength, intelligence, complexity, modernity, and a bit of an unruly mind. So I go into designing the collections with those qualities in mind.

Explain how an architecture major gets into fashion design. Shouldn’t you be off creating buildings?

That’s funny. I ended up really loving my architecture education but started to realize that I did not love buildings enough to continue to do architecture. I just really loved design and wanted to do as much of it as possible. I really wanted to try to design something that I really love and I’ve always loved fashion. I think almost every term paper I wrote for every class was about the relationship between fashion and architecture. I think I’ve written about 5 papers on fashion and architecture during my time in college.

You stated you had a false start earlier what was that about?

I did a mini scarf collection for my very first attempt at doing anything fashion related my first year out of school. I definitely had a bit of a pause because I wasn’t entirely sure as to whether or not I wanted to try the fashion thing or go back to architecture. It’s the whole issue of the known being less frightening than the unknown.

What stores do you see your collections fitting snugly into?

That’s tough. There are so many great stores in New York. I don’t know about fitting in well, but there are several stores that I would really like to be carried in. I love Seven New York in Soho. They carry three of my favorite designers, Haider Ackermann, Preen, and Raf Simons, so that would be amazing to be in the same store as them. I like Eva as well, and the big stores like Barneys are also such a dream.

Are you and artist, designer, architect or a bit of all three?

Wow. That’s a big question. It would be great if people saw elements of all three in my work. I would love to be able to say all three but I would have to say that designer. I think I know what an architect is and I’m not that. I’m not sure what it would be to be an artist, so through process of elimination, I’m going to stick with designer.

What does Christine Rhee want to get out of fashion?

In terms of specific goals, it changes so much depending on so many different factors. The one constant is that I just want to design as much as possible for as long as possible. It sounds deceptively simple. I’ve loved fashion for as long as I can remember. I’m from a small town in Ohio. We didn’t have access to a lot of fashion magazines. Fashion definitely seemed like something that only other people got to do or participate in. I can’t even honestly say that designing clothes was a dream for me because it was so out of the realm of possibilities when I was growing up. To be doing it now, feels like, beyond a dream to me. It’s enough to just be doing it, right now.

We see brooding elements of Calvin Klein in your fall collection are we wrong? You can totally tell us.

Wow. That’s so nice. I never really thought of that. It wasn’t a reference or intentional but I can see where you get that. I like that phrase “brooding elements.” The “brooding” aspect of the collection though is intentional. I kind of imagined everything within the context of a solitary existence and really tried to infuse as much of myself into the collection as possible.

When not designing, what do you have time for.

I’m having a real science fiction moment right now, books and movies. I have to admit though, that aside from hanging out with friends, almost everything that I do in my free time is geared towards designing the current collection or the next one.

Pick a city, New York, Paris, Milan, London, where would you want to hold your next runway collection?

I would love to show in New York because that’s my home now. It takes so many people to make a collection, the people who work on it directly, and then the people who just keep you sane! It’s really important to me to be able to show them exactly what they’ve helped me make.

What do your friends think about your designing path in life.

Some people asked me “what took you so long?” I got some “I always thought you should do that.” Those were the nice responses. My friends are great.

What did you take away from working with Mary Ping?

So many things. Mary was such a great person to work for and especially as my introduction to the fashion world. She works so hard and really does everything. She’s so talented. So you definitely get to see a lot of different things and get a realistic idea of how hard you’re going to have to work. The most important thing that I learned from her was when she told me that, I’m paraphrasing, if you create something emotional and really put yourself into it then you’ll create something really strong.

You tend to use solid colors no mish-mash, usually one uniform color throughout why is that?

Personal preference. I love layered monochromes. I love white on white. Restraint and discipline are concepts that I’m very interested in exploring in terms of design. For the way that I design, I think it’s a lot about balancing things out. Being very controlled in terms of color palette gives me more freedom in terms of design. With my aesthetic, that is a compromise that I am more than willing to make, right now at least.

Each season from your collections has a name. Are you mulling over names for the Fall 2008 collection or have you picked one out already?

I already have a name. The name of the collection is “Isolator.” This collection was really meant as a flipside to the last collection “the Collector.” I liked the symmetry between the words (both ending in “tor”), and it makes for a very good contrast between the two. “The Collector” was designed within the frame of an office environment, which had to do a lot with dealing with other people and dealing with people’s perceptions (breaking rules, etc.). “Isolator” strips that all away and is more emotional and deals with the framework of one’s self-perception.

What’s next for Christine Rhee?

Hopefully another collection! I’ve got a few things brewing that I’d love to try out for Spring Summer 2009, (which already has a name). There are so many things I’d love to do. I’d love to do a second line, specifically a men’s oxford shirt line.
Realistically though, I think it’s updating my website and cleaning my studio.

And now a word from

Written By , on January 2, 2008

In recent years, the surge of independent designers has seen an all-time high. From hand knit scarves to commissioned furniture, artisans who know their craft and can identify with a client’s need for something unique continue to pave the way for the latest and greatest must-haves. Jewelry designer JJ Singh is no different. Drawing inspiration from ancient civilizations, Singh’s pieces are at the top of our lists this holiday season.

JJ SIngh Jewelry

PD: How did you begin designing jewelry?

JS:After graduating from high school, I asked my parents for metalsmithing lessons. Relieved I wasn’t asking for a car, they called our local goldsmith and made arrangements. He graciously obliged and those lessons turned into an apprenticeship where I learned the fundamentals of working with precious metals. Manipulating metal into beautiful objects is an endless journey and there is always something new to learn.

PD:What materials do you typically work with?

JS: Fine silver (.99), sterling silver (.95), 24k gold plating, and semi-precious stones.

PD: Are some materials more complex to create pieces with?

JS: Every material has its own set of challenges. The key is to exploit the materials strength and minimize it’s weakness when planning a design.

PD: What inspires you on a regular basis?

JS: I’d say it’s a combination of texture, (whether it be in fabric, intricate wood carvings, architecture, etc.) and my admiration of Byzantine forms and historical religious iconography.

PD: Does travel play a role in your creations?

JS: Absolutely! My husband is from India, so when we travel there my senses feast on the intricate craftsmanship you see everywhere. Many of the pieces in my collection are based on wood block carvings that were once used to emboss patterns onto silk saris.

PD: The concept of the Mini Jewel Bar is yours (and a brilliant one); how did you come up with this?

JS: I get a lot of requests to design customized pieces of jewelry for clientsto give as gifts. The process is exciting but can be costly and time consuming. I wanted to offer a way that anyone could customize a necklace in a meaningful way. Providing a pre-selected range of choices, ensures that no matter what combination you choose, it is guaranteed to turn out beautifully. The name came from my love of mixology. Not being one to turn down a good cocktail, it seemed perfectly logical to fill martini glasses with charms and stones…thus the Mini Jewel Bar was born. Since its inception, the idea has expanded and now we have the Bangle Bar and Charm Bar as well.

PD: What are trends we can expect to see in the coming spring season as far as jewelry?

JS: The Spring runways were showing a lot of asymmetrical necklines, so I think we will continue to see long necklaces that layer over the clothes and a strong emphasis on earrings. Cuffs and bangles continue to be strong either as one large statement piece, or many smaller pieces layered.

PD: What is one piece every woman should have? How could I possibly pick just one?

JS: Every woman should have a monogrammed piece whether [it’s] a medallion necklace or a signet ring.
In addition, I would suggest something to hold charms. Our take is a variation on the charm bracelet and a throwback to the ‘80’s…. a charm holder necklace. It is sophisticated and elegant and personal at the same time. These are not only adornments but sentimental amulets that carry a personal symbolism. They are timeless and can be passed on when the time comes.

PD: A lot of women claim that topping off a look with jewelry makes them feel more polished. What’s your take on this?
JS: I think wearing jewelry is like wearing high heels. In the same way a pair of stilettos makes you stand a little straighter; wearing jewelry makes us more aware of our bodies. For example, when you are wearing long earrings, you feel them brush your neck when you turn your head. It’s a little reminder to slow down and take that turn gracefully.

PD: You work primarily with sapphires, any reason why? JS: Sapphires are strong, beautiful, and come in almost every color! A lot of people don’t realize that some of the most lovely celadon, lavender, yellow, and orange colors can be found in sapphires.

PD: The process of creating handmade jewelry is a painstaking one. What makes it easier at the end of the day? JS: The truth is, I don’t find it painstaking at all. Each piece is a combination of balancing the technical challenges with the desired aesthetic of the piece. Working in the studio is my meditation. It takes me to a place where I lose track of time and feel a deep sense of satisfaction. When I’m away from the studio I have symptoms of withdrawal. It is my passion.

PD: What is your favorite ‘80s movie? JS: Fast Times at Ridgemont High – still funny after all these years.

PD: Any holiday plans in particular?
JS: Our family tradition is to visit the Big Apple for three days and return home on Christmas Eve. After the holidays, I’m taking a big fat break in January.

And now a word from

Written By , on December 4, 2007

Simone Williams

Simone Williams is a new breed of designer that bucks trends and creates pieces for her clients. Born and raised in East London, Williams learned at a young age from family members that designing can be a labor of love. Since that time, Williams has grown into a top emerging designer, recently showing at the Kulture 2 Couture series of shows that highlight the works of black designers. She’ll have you know though that her background is only part of the story, she’s more interested in the future.

Tell us about Simone Williams the designer

I’m 26 years old, born and raised in East London. I studied in Hackney Community college and City & Islington College. My granny and auntie also design and make clothes, I used to watch them make garments growing up and it inspired me. I used to design draw clothes all the time, and made my own doll’s clothes from an early age. I have always been extremely passionate about my craft I decided I wanted to be a designer from a young age. My love for it led me into the business.

Your myspace profile says beautiful ladieswear for beautiful ladies. Who is a beautiful lady?

A beautiful lady is a woman secure in herself; she is not afraid to let her inner diva be expressed in the world. A beautiful lady is a woman who is confident in her shape and physical appearance even if it doesnt follow society’s norm of “perfection”. A beautiful lady is a woman who can be fully self expressed through her fashion and her personality.

The models for your collection are prevalently black, there’s been a lot of controversy in the diversity space, was your choice deliberate? If so why?

To be completely honest our choice was based primarily on the quality of the models. We were looking for individuals with strong looks and who wore the garments well – this was not based on race. We think its important to highlight the use of models in fashion really needs to become a lot more flexible and open minded – we have used white models, asian models and mixed race models for shoots all based on quality and the feel of the shoot at the time. If any statement is to be made here is that race should cease to being an issue in the fashion industry…in an ideal world…in reality we are aware of it and simply acknowledge it existence.

What do you want “beautiful ladies” to take away from your collection?
We want them to take away the fact that they can wear classic, gorgeous garments created with love and care to fit their unique and wonderful figures!!!

Where do you see yourself in relation to other British designers?

I feel excited to be surrounded by so much great talent in Britain. Its a great place to be right now. In relation to others I can only state that I know where I am capable of taking this brand alongside my business partner, Ronke Lawal. We’re looking to be more than just another label we want to represent high class fashion on an international level.

What designer are you drawn to most?

Roberto Cavalli

If we were to get into your mind while you were designing what would we see throughout the process?

I get inspiration for anything and everything – this keeps my creative vision alive and fresh. It would be a keilidooscope (sp?!) of ideas.

What is your personal satifaction once the piece is finished?

To see my creative vision come to life – its excites me every time – I particularly adore seeing the garments on a satisfied client.

What’s been the biggest challenge for you?

The biggest challenge has promoting the brand – with the help of my partner it has become a lot easier and we can really see how things are developing.

What do you think of show’s like Project Catwalk?
Its good practice & good exposure for new talent – It also allows those who have an interest in the industry to see some of the processes that they need to go through.

What do you do for pleasure?

Dine out with friends, social when I get a chance

Apart from the ones related to fashion, what are your aspirations?

Happiness, nice home, nice family (one day).

If you had to do the last 3 years (from graduating, to launching your line and each consecutive season) what (if anything), would you do differently?

Get more business advice! Simple as that

What’s next for Simone Williams?
To develop the brand on a global level – its going to be an exciting phase as we aim to become internationally recognised.

And now a word from

Written By , on November 1, 2007

Amity Cooper
For the past few years, Amity Cooper has designed intricate handbags great for using, but best for collecting. Her label, Star 50 bags is now on the verge of wide reception with colleges and collectors alike. Adding a few states each season, Star 50 has covered every state in the Union and is growing by the minute. Now with a revamped website and on the brink of great outlets, Star 50 is the trendiest way to show your state spirit.

PD: What was the original inspiration behind creating Star 50?

Shortly after 9-11, I spent a great deal of time thinking about what made this nation great. There was such a fusion of people and emotion during that period that many of my feelings came to me in images, some of which translated into designs.

PD: How did you begin designing handbags?

Oddly, I just started doing it. I had worked in retail over the years and spent my first professional years in non-profit work—mainly in museums, so I was looking for a medium that I could express myself and tell a great story. Handbags, as it’s turned out, has been a perfect fit-their compact in size, a small blank canvas really, and as the line has unfolded, it has enabled me to be
the storyteller/artist/interpreter all rolled into one. Then, I can move on to the next state

PD: What has been the response so far?

Great! I love getting responses from collectors, handbag lovers, like myself, who can’t wait for the next release.

PD: Who is the Star 50 girl?

She’s someone who likes adventure, who enjoys life and makes her own way. She enjoys looking at the details in life because help define the greater parts of the world around her. She’s comfortable anywhere and in anything.

PD: Originally, did you set out to cover all 50 states?

Absolutely. It wouldn’t be Star 50 otherwise. My goal is to create a national line of handbags.

PD: Do you ever have trouble coming up with a themed bag for certain states?

Sure. It’s not uncommon for me to churn on a state for a while before something appears. I do have to say I try my best to offer a little surprise. It’s important to design a bag that stands outside of our common knowledge of a particular state’s history. I like to dig a little deeper into a state’s history and bring up something that might have been forgotten or not well known.

PD: What are your favorite materials to work with?

I’m such a tactile person. I get in a fabric store and I’m done in. I enjoy mixing fabrics and textures together but I have to say my top favorites would be leather and interesting home fabrics. The treatments today are extraordinary.

PD: From where do you draw the most inspiration as far as design?

I enjoy the research of a state’s story. If I stumble upon a silly fun fact, like Alaska’s catch phrase explaining the disproportion of men to women, “Your odds are good but the goods are odd”, and it sticks for 48 hours, that’s a sign for me to start there.

PD: What is the easiest part of designing a bag?

Finding the story; the actual design to express that story is a bit harder for me.

PD: Where do you come up with the names for the bags?

The names generally come after the bag is done and I sit back and look at what its function. Sometimes it’s as simple as a state’s tag name like Montana’s. It’s known as the treasure state for all its mineral mining history. Montana’s design, coming out this late winter, is called the Montana Treasure Tote.

PD:Your demographic ranges from college alumni to collectors. What do you think attracts them to Star 50?

I believe that my collection speaks to individual on a very personal level. I know that I’ve done it right when someone says that
a particular design is “SO Colorado or SO Arizona”. I also know that it rings true for someone when they get a laugh over a particular fact I’ve uncovered. It reminds them of a personal experience of where they’ve been or dreams of something in their future.

PD: You’ve just launched your Star 50 newsletter. How can readers make sure they get your updates?

Visit our site and sign up! www.star50bags.com

PD: What is in store for your holiday collection?

I felt with elections knocking, it was important to bring back some glamour and celebrate the nation’s capital. My Washington D.C. Blossom is the perfect arm ornament for this holiday. It’s clean, vintage-inspired, and stately. I wanted to keep the drama to what women are wearing rather than what’s happening on the nightly updates.

PD: Any ideas on what we might be seeing for spring from Star 50?

I’m excited about spring. I’ve revamped some favorites to offer more choice in colors and I’m releasing two states from Middle America—Kansas, Oklahoma, and expect some southern comfort from Tennessee…

PD: Do you try to hit on key trends of the season, or does the design of the bags materialize according to the history of the

Truthfully, I try to offer choice by selecting at least 5 states from different parts of the country so that its representative of our
diversity both topographically and culturally. With that said, I try to design according to the time of year. Once I choose
my next release of states, the designs follow from my research.

PD: You call your Star 50 clients “Starlets.” Which Starlet of Old Hollywood would love to tote your bags?

Katherine Hepburn comes to mind. She was so independent and adventuresome-bucking the trend of her time, all the time. Doris
Day is someone else that I feel encapsulates my vision of a ‘Starlet’. Her on screen presence-classically put together literally
head to toe. What a vision of loveliness in a very identifiable, non threatening manner.

And now a word from

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