TBT — Senior Year

rules-of-etiquette

Emily, Kalpana, and me. Rules of Etiquette jumpsuit. Jessica Simpson pumps. Apt. 9 belt. Photo by Travis W. Keyes

I cannot believe that almost a year has passed since I graduated. Here I am with my friends Emily and Kalpana at an event for the Epson Digital Couture Project. It was a Tuesday night, at 5:30 or 6:30, when I received a text from Kalpana asking if I would like to go to a party she had been invited to. I love surprises, so I said yes right away. The party was at a huge industrial space in the Meatpacking District, walking distance from my dorm. Kalpana introduced me to her friend Emily, whom she had met through modeling. It was a great night, and we have all had fun together since.

That jumpsuit is one I had looked at day after day in the Savvy department when I worked at Nordstrom, and finally bought when it dropped to half price. What drew me to it was that while it’s attention-grabbing with a bold tribal pattern, the fit is relaxed and extremely comfortable. It’s like a onesie that you can do more than sleep in. I also love the duality of the print with its colors reversed — seeing two versions of the same lines reminds me of looking at a photo and its negative. I placed a belt between the two sections to accentuate this and paired it with matching pumps.

When I look back at my past, it feels a bit charmed. It’s funny, how one can go through the present without seeing the good, and go through the past without seeing the bad.

 

 

 

Meet Up-and-Coming Designer Laura Ciccarello

Laura Ciccarello Logo

Laura Ciccarello has spent all of her life immersed in art and fashion. Growing up in Virginia with her brother and parents, her creativity was strongly encouraged. As a child she drew and painted constantly, and her family would often sit and draw together. Her obsession with gemstones was also fueled by her upbringing. Some of her favorite earliest memories are of digging through her mother’s jewelry box and wearing the jewelry – and not just for dress-up. “My mother said I could wear whatever I wanted,” she recalls, “and she had a collection of fine jewelry. So when I was in kindergarten, I wore chunky sparkly necklaces to school. I probably looked like a nut job, but I was happy.” She grew up to sell her oil paintings as a young teenager, win an international design competition by The Sak Company, complete pre-college at Pratt and college at FIT, design for multiple brands including Fernando Sanchez, provide fashion consulting services to major retailers, and found the company Red Lipstick Inc., under which she launched her eponymous brand Laura Ciccarello. Her creative origins continue to inspire the “glamorous yet organic” aesthetic of Laura Ciccarello Collection.

Laura Ciccarello Lookbook

Lookbook shot at a penthouse overlooking Central Park; model wearing Big Blingy Starry Night scarf

Laura Ciccarello Collection started with scarves, then extended to handbags. The product category Laura is most excited about right now is jewelry, which launched at the Accessories Circuit trade show just this fall. Every piece in her Metal Lace and Gemstone Jewelry collections is made of silver or gold, with the latter bearing evidence of her childhood gem fascination. She sees her jewelry as a bridge between costume and fine jewelry, two of her favorite things. Each piece is handmade in Manhattan’s Diamond District. Manufacturing close to home is challenging because the production landscape is dominated by ready-to-wear and it can be hard to find people who identify more with stones than cloth. “It would be cheaper to make the jewelry somewhere else,” Laura says, “but I like to do things the better way. New York is higher quality. Overseas uses ‘flash’ plating that wears off in two months and we use ‘heavy plating.’”.

 

Laura Ciccarello Lace 4      Laura Ciccarello Lace 6   Laura Ciccarello Lace 5    Laura Ciccarello Lace 3

Silver lace filigree ring, $93; La Ventana silver lace ring, $180; La Ventana gold lace ring, $180; Gold lace filigree ring, $93

Laura’s design process is serendipitous but clearly effective. “The process of creating a collection starts with me going out all the time and getting a lot of random ideas from what I see. The idea starts out with a sketch, and then I do more sketches, maybe change a few things, before doing the painting. Then I infuse photos I take with Photoshop and start to digitally print the fabric.” This process caters to our ever more technology-focused world with fabulous and luxurious results. With names like Queen of Everything and Diamonds Are More Than My Best Friends, the five scarf collections are full of motif surprises. These include Marilyn MonroeKarl Lagerfeld, and even handcuffs, which have a subliminal feel when infused over her colorful abstract paintings.

Laura Ciccarello Tied Up and Painted    Laura Ciccarello Diamonds Are More Than My Best Friends    Laura Ciccarello Karate Karl 2

Tied Up and Painted handbag; Diamonds Are More Than My Best Friends scarf; Karate Karl handbag

“My perfect situation would be designing all day and making thousands of SKUs,” Laura says, “but that’s not the reality.” As a business owner, Laura spends much of her time on manufacturing and logistics in addition to design. When designing a collection, she chooses the best thirty or forty ideas to produce. The scarves and bags are manufactured in India and China, but Laura is seeing an industry shift to South American manufacturing, thanks to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a growing workforce that is becoming more educated in patternmaking and manufacturing. Fashion has a reputation as one of the world’s fastest-moving industries, where everyone discusses Fall when it’s spring outside and work on a collection must begin a full year in advance. This is not an issue for Laura. “I am hyper-decisive,” she says, “so I take less time than average to complete a collection. I always like to be ahead of the curve, so I exceed my deadlines.”

Laura Ciccarello Rock Royalty     Laura Ciccarello Stone Roses

Crowned Royal scarf; Stone Roses scarf

In a volatile industry where a large number of brands are selling similar products to similar markets, Laura Ciccarello Collection stands out. “Individuality is the biggest trend that no one’s talking about. The woman wearing my clothes values individuality above all else. She wants something bold, something beautiful, not just trendy,” Laura says. “It’s about standing out, doing something different, and having a quality product. This matters more than artificial marketing and grey-area-press. Press and marketing are making major changes right now. The reality few are talking about is you don’t sell from publications anymore, you sell to people.”

Laura Ciccarello 3

Laura herself wearing the Kryptonite scarf

Laura Ciccarello Collection has received attention from many high-profile sources, like Neiman Marcus and Miss Universe. Laura tells me that her PR success comes from networking. “I like to go out, go to events, go to parties, and I meet so many people,” she says. “You need to be out and present. I have seen people pass up big opportunities because they stayed at home all the time. Home is a very comfortable place, but as a designer you’ve got to put yourself out there.” But she is quick to note that networking comes with a caveat. “My favorite show is VH1’s Behind the Music,” she tells me. “I don’t go crazy like the celebrities in Behind the Music. I have fun but I keep my priorities straight. I always want to be 100 percent on point. If I were swinging from a chandelier, I would be sending a business email from my phone with the other hand.” That might be the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Laura Ciccarello 4    Laura Ciccarello 2

Laura at a studio wearing the Fool’s Gold scarf and handbag; a chandelier from Laura’s Instagram

Laura Ciccarello Collection has a website and a presence on Facebook and Instagram, but Laura’s ambitions for the brand center around wholesale. As someone with extensive experience designing for department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and The Home Shopping Network, pitching her own brand to high-end retail is a natural progression. She is excited about expanding into a new product category and “going outside my design comfort zone.” Can’t wait to see the results!

Laura Ciccarello Malificent   Laura Ciccarello Big Blingy Starry Night    Laura Ciccarello Queen of the Aztec

Malificent handbag; Big Blingy Starry Night handbag; Queen of the Aztec handbag

 

 

A Kiss on the Lips

The lips are one of the most beautiful and expressive parts of the body…so it only makes sense that they would be picked up as a common motif in women’s clothing. Whether you crave the delicacy of a pale pink lipstick, the pop of an Andy Warhol piece, or the edginess of an Ed Hardy tattoo, in today’s trend landscape it is easy to find an item you will want to kiss as soon as you bring it home (just take your own lipstick off first).

Putting on Lipstick   Alice McCall  Liz Blackpurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Romwe  Giles purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Hallhuber  Philipp Plein 2   purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Choies  American Retro (2)purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  MSGM Yes  MSGM 2purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Choies 2  MSGM 3 Yespurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Soho Girl  MSGM 4purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Au Jour Le Jour 2    Adriana Degreas   purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  New LookMimi Hollidaypurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Mancienne   Rupert Sandersonpurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  QQ TrendPhilipp Plein 3purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Stephen Webster  Delfina Delettrezpurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Solange Azagury-Partridge  Lydia Courteillepurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Alison Lou  Overstockpurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  American Retro 2  Anna Coroneopurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Studio DKS by Deborah Shavlik  Diane von Furstenberg 2purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Melie Bianco  Sarah's Bagpurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  Miss Sweety 2  Philipp Plein 4purple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick  M.R.  Manish Arorapurple lipstick

Putting on Lipstick   Unique Vintage 2  Diane von Furstenberg 3purple lipstick

 

1. Alice McCall dress, $440

2. Liz Black dress, $2,480

3. Romwe blouse, $14

4. Giles shirt, $420

5. Hallhuber t-shirt, $14

6. Philipp Plein t-shirt, $545

7. Choies sweatshirt, $27

8. American Retro sweatshirt, $291

9. MSGM jacket, $478

10. MSGM coat, $3,162

11. Choies skirt, $24

12. MSGM skirt, $310

13. Soho Girl jeans, $30

14. MSGM trousers, $192

15. Au Jour Le Jour shorts, $154

16. Adriana Degreas swimsuit, $329

17. New Look thong, $6

18.  Mimi Holliday thong, $61

19. Mancienne sandals, $31

20. Rupert Sanderson sandals, $835

21. QQ Trend flats, $21

22. Philipp Plein sneakers, $814

23. Stephen Webster necklace, $4,100

24. Delfina Delettrez mono earring, $6,311

25. Solange Azagury-Partridge ring, $2,300

26. Lydia Courteille ring, $17,719

27. Alison Lou bracelet, $1,495

28. Overstock sunglasses, $10

29. American Retro scarf, $160

30. Anna Coroneo scarf, $325

31. Studio DKS by Deborah Shavlik carryall, $46

32. Diane von Furstenberg pouch, $158

33. Melie Bianco clutch, $35

34. Sarah’s Bag clutch, $1,645

35. Miss Sweety handbag, $21

36. Philipp Plein handbag, $2,985

37. M.R. backpack, $29

38. Manish Arora backpack, $747

39. Unique Vintage umbrella, $13

40. Diane von Furstenberg iPhone case, $48