Bold, Adventurous, Fun - Vespertine
How did you get into fashion?
I’ve always loved expressing myself through fashion. As a kid, I liked wearing hats, several at a time, (which I do now, too, in running my business). I was the first person in my elementary school to have kickers when they came into style. I didn’t pursue fashion as a career until I biked into it. I was working in film and living in Paris when their bike share system started. I was terrified of biking in the city. But a bike-share station popped up right outside my apartment in the 6th arrondissement and I finally gave it a try. To my surprise, I loved it! But I didn’t lose all my fear of being on the road. When I knew drivers could see me, I felt safe. I used the bike to get around, not for exercise, thus I was in my regular clothes. My new biking lifestyle sparked the idea for Haute Réflecture®, a line of fashionable apparel and accessories that would incorporate high visibility, reflective features into clothes that are stylish enough for Paris life, and that turn heads on and off the road. The idea stuck. Eventually, I moved back to New York and figured out how to put together my first collection.
As a designer, what are your major influences?
My mother is an artist and designer and has been a great influence on me. She and my father own and run Carvers’ Guild, which has produced amazing decorative mirror frames in the USA for over 55 years. It’s ironic that I now design with reflective material! Ever since I was a child, I’ve been creating, in the visual arts, writing, acting, theater, and later filmmaking. As a designer, I’ve been influenced by all these mediums, particularly theater and film. Fellini is my favorite director. I love the visual decadence, theatricality, and sensuality of his films. At the same time, I find the utilitarian aspect of clothing very inspirational. In that regard, I am inspired by safety wear, work wear, and outdoor gear. I’ve also been inspired by the traditional production resources that I’ve come across in the NYC fashion district, where I design and produce my collections. I get a kick out of using technical fabrics in unexpected traditional ways, like my reflective fabric flower pins. The last major influence for me as a designer has been learning about sustainable fashion and ways we can produce goods with minimal harm to the environment.
What is your design philosophy?
My design philosophy is really tied to my inspirations. I am seeking to create harmony by combining opposites: High/Low, Beauty/Utility, Traditional/High- tech, Fashion/Safety. I believe in creating true Fashion that is also true safety wear. This means that I use the brightest reflective material (not all reflective is equal,) in ample quantities and placed appropriately so it provides real visibility to my customers. It is not just a cosmetic gimmick. The goal is to create pieces that are transformative, empowering, and help improve lives, and our environment. All of our choices have an impact. What we buy, what we put on our bodies, how we move through space. When we put on a safety vest to be seen on the road, we are making so many choices that go beyond ourselves, and yet, ultimately, we deserve to be seen looking our best.
Tell us about your recent Kimonos collection
In line with my philosophy, I strive to be as sustainable as possible. I produce in small quantities in NYC where I live. I incorporate recycled and natural fabrics into my collection, and I design to support people-powered, active lifestyles, which are in themselves, a form of activism. The One-of-a-Kind, Limited Edition Up-cycled Reflective Merino Kimonos project was really exciting for me because it took the sustainable aspect of my brand to the next level, the Zero Waste Movement, and the Fashion Revolution. Last year, I did a collaboration with Brompton Bicycles, the renown British folding bike manufacturer. I designed a reflective graphic for their Limited Edition NYC Brompton X Vespertine folding bike. We all loved the graphic, which celebrates iconic architecture in NYC, and so I designed a capsule collection around the graphic that accompanied the release of the bike: reflective merino knitwear, scarves, hats and headbands, and shoelaces. It was the factory’s first time using reflective yarn. During production, 17 lbs of scarves had some damage but otherwise, were perfectly good. The factory was going to throw it all away. I saved the material from the landfill, and with a good friend, Susanne Goetz, who teaches fabric design at FIT, we came up with the idea to upcycle it into Kimonos. Each Kimono has been carefully pieced together by me and assembled by expert tailor and designer, Yasmine Oezelli, the @travelingtailor. Following the Japanese traditions of Shashiko Stitching and Kintsugi, the talented artist Yasmine Dabbous, (founder/creator of the jewerly line, @kinshipstories ), has created original embroideries that fortify and beautify some of the kimonos as needed. The embroidery celebrates the renewal and metamorphosis of the merino wool scarves into wearable works of art.
Describe the typical Vespertine NYC wearer
The typical Vespertine NYC wearer is bold, adventurous, and fun. They are active, care about the environment, about safety, and of course, about looking great! They are women and men, bikers and non-bikers, young and old. They all love good design and appreciate the power it has to transform our world.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m really honored to be designing a dress for one of the biggest distributors of reflective material in the United States. The piece will be showcased at the Functional Fabric Fair that is coming to NYC for the first time this July. I am also developing a new collection with some pieces that will be dropped on my website at the end of the summer and throughout the holiday season. The short dark days of autumn are prime time for everyone to get visible and wear reflective! Sign up for my mailing list to get all the latest updates!
What can we expect from Vespertine NYC over the next few seasons?
Coming up you can expect to see more outerwear, with more functionality and pumped up style. I’m also planning on introducing more unisex knits, graphics, and prints, as well as expanding my reflective fashion accessories offerings. In addition, I’m investigating incorporating some new tech into my designs. Sign up for my mailing list to get all the latest updates!