Dear Intern

Posted on July 20, 2010
Filed Under Interviews, Only in Washington | 2,449 Comments

I kick off “Intern Fashion Week” on the Washington Post’s Campus Overload blog with some rules of thumb for our city’s interns. I’m pretty proud of the “cardigans, not Kardashians” bit. Look out for advice from other bloggers throughout the week.

Our intern at work sounds like Gina from Empire Records, so naturally I told her she needs to sing Sugar High at some point this summer. Such a great song (the real version, kids…), to turn up and flail around to while in your car or in your room getting dressed.

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Walker Rules.

Posted on May 6, 2009
Filed Under Interviews, Men, On The Street | 4,662 Comments

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Walker Lamond, one of my favorite stylish local gents, is my Sidewalk Style subject this week. I think I first saw Walker at the Jete Society’s “Dance Party” in 2008 – pretty sure I took his photo and never posted it, for one reason or another. I then saw him again at the Sartorialist opening at Adamson Gallery, and then included him in the big “Great Hair” spread I had in Washingtonian magazine a while back. So I guess you could say that I’ve been following Walker, and his style, for a while now.

Walker’s style is basically original prep. No shapeless khakis with embroidered animals or sack-style navy jackets to be found. His is a carefully considered yet unfussy blend of labels both old and new, all with a decidedly 50s-retro look. The unfussy part is what I find particularly attractive about the look – think beachside walks in white jeans rolled up to mid-calf, an old white oxford shirt worn like second skin. Totally classic, just like the advice he doles out on his blog (and soon, book!), Rules For My Unborn Son.

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Devi Kroell on Keeping it Real.

Posted on April 7, 2009
Filed Under Interviews, Women | 4,071 Comments

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Last week at the Hu’s Wear opening, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the designer Devi Kroell, who is enviably elegant and composed while remaining totally normal and approachable. We’d like her to say “Lanvin” over and over again, in her lovely accent, perhaps in place of fairytales before bedtime (can we bring those back, please?!). Pieces from her sumptuous Spring 2009 collection are available in the city exclusively at the just-opened store.

Tell us about this amazing spring collection.
DK: I presented it in September [in New York, at Milk Studios]. We did a presentation in basically, an architectural landscape, inspired by the work of Donald Judd. We wanted people to be able to walk around. We had twenty-five girls, all standing on different sculptures. My pieces were inspired by architecture, shapes, sculptures…I was interested in volume. Everything about it was to be very modern, the colors were kept muted. We didn’t want to go overboard with color. The direction of the spring collection was very much about following what I did with accessories, which was very puristic shapes.

The fabrics are incredible.
DK: There was a lot of research that I did with various mills in order to get the textures. [Gesturing to the silk shirt she was wearing] The silk gets woven in a certain way that after it’s done weaving, the threads are kept very long and you have to take one of these long sabers – is that what you call it? – to cut off the strands.

Made in the States?
DK: Everything is sewn in the garment district. It’s important now, to support our economy.

So…about that.
DK: Especially now, when all the stores are closing, rumors have it that fifty percent of all the factories are going to close by the end of the year. Designers are reducing their orders. It is really a pity.

Why essentially launch yourself as a ready-to-wear designer, now?
DK: It was a good time for me. When I started handbags, there was a gap in the market and I felt that all the needs weren’t being addressed. I felt the same thing again now. Yes of course not the best time with this economy, but, we do have buyers, people do buy our clothes, and I think we’re growing. It’s really more of a personal choice. I needed to do this in order to be able to grow in all the other areas we started – with the handbags and shoes – it was part of my personal evolution of where I wanted to be as a designer. Now more than ever, it’s relevant to have great design and great quality because people really are looking for that. In a way, the recession is good because a lot of unnecessary things will disappear…it makes room for better design and people will focus attention again on really important things.

What about lower-priced design at stores like H&M and Target?

DK: I think it’s really good. Not everyone can afford the high price points and I think it’s important to have everyone be able to afford, even if it’s a knockoff. I take it [knockoffs] as a compliment I have to say. I was given the opportunity a few years back to do the Target collection – the bags retailed for $30. Yes they were plastic and yes it wasn’t the same, but we were so happy to be able to do that. We could touch a different customer.

How has the economy changed the way you design? How does the retailer opinion influence, or not influence, you?
DK: I have been keeping an eye on price points. For example, I try not to choose fabrics that are too expensive that will make the garment too expensive, or I try to choose leathers that are reasonable for handbags and shoes. So that affects how I design. But what I do not do is…I try not to listen too much about what other people think you should do, what they think is going to sell. Because in the past, Ive learned my lesson. A lot of retailers have told me, you know, ‘you should do that, because it will sell, people look for that’ and so forth. And there’s always a lag of time, between the time somebody tells you what is selling and the time your product actually hits the market. By the time it comes out, these people, who are not visionaries, told you something a few months back, and then it comes out and it’s just not relevant anymore. I came out with some product in the past where I didn’t feel that it was my soul, and I didn’t really love the product, but I did it because I was told that this is what I should be doing. So it kind of took me away from what I’m really about and what my things really are about. It’s really a fine line to walk, and I’m not ready to do that again.

Wow. That must be really hard – to do that balance.
DK: I’m not ready to give up what I’m really about to please the retailers. Because at the end of the day, if it’s not really you and you can’t stand behind it, then you know, there’s no relevance to it. The funny this is, once you do that, that’s what sells. People want the passion. People can see that this is something special, something that they haven’t seen yet. Because you try to do something special.

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Project Beltway is Famous

Posted on January 8, 2009
Filed Under Interviews, Only in Washington | 391 Comments

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The fine folks over at FamousDC featured me the other day. I think I like my answers very much...

I'm going to Etete for dinner tonight! I love that place. Maybe pistachio ice cream for dessert...

{above: My mom very graciously passed down some cool Bruno Magli sandals to me recently. We found them together in a vintage store in Florida. Need to get over to American Valet to replace the bottoms of the tres adorable wooden cone heels...}

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