Family Style

Sister Act

Nicky + Simone Zimmermann

Perhaps you first fell in love with Zimmermann when you discovered its fashion-forward swimwear. Early into the eponymous label’s launch, Australian sisters Nicky and Simone Zimmermann smartly added swim pieces to their growing ready-to-wear and resort offerings. The response from the global fashion world was immediate, and with the popularity of those poolside favorites came a following from women looking to channel their breezy and feminine aesthetic. As a recognized runway brand, they’ve continued to gain success by translating sophisticated looks from the beaches of Australia to the streets of New York. Before Simone came on board to manage the growing business, Nicky started solo, designing and producing pieces out of her parents’ garage. Twenty-seven years later, the sisters count their working business relationship as key to their success. As a label that’s been able to adapt and thrive with an ever-evolving international customer, it’s clear they’re doing something right.

Tell us how the brand was born.
NZ: From a young age, I learned to sew and I loved making my own clothes. I don’t really remember ever wanting to do anything else, and I was always going to be a designer in some capacity. All through high school I used to design garments and I would make them in my parents’ garage and sell them to the local girls on my street. When I finished school, I went to design school in Sydney. After graduating, I worked for a fashion business for about six months and thought I knew so much that it would be a great idea to start my own label. If I only knew! But I started by designing small collections and selling them at Paddington markets in Sydney, which at the time was a really vibrant place for young designers to make a start. From those early pieces I designed, I was fortunate to get a few pages in Australian Vogue and from there I started to get some wholesale orders, which is when Simone came on board and we started Zimmermann together from there.

How are your roles different within the company?
NZ: I’m the creative director and really just focus on the collections with my team. Simone is our COO, and she makes things happen. We have very separate roles and she doesn’t get too involved in the design process, and I think she’s more than happy to keep me away from too much of the operational side of things!

What’s the best part about working together?
SZ: As sisters we have a really strong relationship and we share the same sorts of values, so making decisions is pretty easy. We’re always on the same page when it comes to the choices we make, and that makes life easier. And there is great trust there.

What’s the hardest part about working together?
SZ: We’re probably the same as lots of sisters and we have some pretty funny fights. There’ve been some great screaming matches across the studio—more in the old days—but we end up just laughing about it and getting on with it.

How does Australian fashion differ from American fashion?
NZ: I think the main thing for me is that there is a more relaxed approach to dressing in Sydney in particular. It obviously has a lot to do with the way of life and the environment. But that being said, I find it hard to pigeonhole Australian fashion in the same way that it’s hard to generalize about American fashion. There are also things that are really similar—our girl in Sydney is very similar to the girl in New York or Los Angles or London—they respond to the same things.

Career highlight?
SZ: I don’t really think about particular points, but I’m mostly proud of how we have been able to take what we create to a wider audience outside of Australia. It’s really not easy being based in Sydney, which is our choice and where we love to be, and to take that abroad.
NZ: I personally get great enjoyment in opening new stores. I think about the ones we have created in New York or Los Angeles, and I was really excited to see that presence in cities that we love and spend so much time in.

What inspired your spring collection?
SZ: The collection is called Stranded, and it was inspired by the time I spent in a nightclub in Sydney as a teen in the ’80s. We were a bit isolated from fashion and music and the subcultures that were emerging elsewhere. So people interpreted them in their own way. We were bowerbirds, we couldn’t find the clothes that others could buy so we made things. We ripped up tutus; we stole dad’s shirts; we found old pieces of lace; we tied, we tattered, tangled and frayed. That was the starting point.

With such a global brand, how do you stay connected with your customers?
NZ: It might seem trivial but Instagram is a big thing for me. You can see so much of how people receive the collections and how they wear them. And I love to get out and about and be able to visit stores whether in Australia or in New York or wherever.

Who’s the Zimmermann woman?
NZ: She’s feminine, she has her own sense of style and she has fun with fashion. She doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Shop Zimmermann at:
Mitchells, Westport, 203-227-5165
Richards, Greenwich, 203-622-0551
Saks Fifth Avenue The Collective,
Greenwich, 203-862-5300

A Family Affair

Veronica Swanson Beard + Veronica Miele Beard

The name for their label was an obvious choice. In addition to sharing one name, sisters-in-law Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard (their husbands are brothers) bonded over their love of clothes. As their relationship and families grew (there are eight children between them), the women saw an opportunity to create pieces that would satisfy their love of fashion while remaining functional for their busy lives. Their concept was to create a uniform, and their first piece would become their signature: a fitted blazer with attached knit dickey. From there, the two have expanded their designs to include a full collection of sportswear and, in August 2016, opened up their first brick-and-mortar store on Madison Avenue. Styled more as an apartment than a classic retail destination, the space provides a peek into the chic world the Veronicas have created with their brand. With a mix of vintage furnishings, bold prints and preppy touches, it’s the perfect backdrop for the classic-cool line you’ll want to build your wardrobe around.

How do your own personal styles differ?
VMB: I love taking risks and experimenting, and tend to mix classic with some edge, a different hairstyle or pop of makeup to complement my outfit.
VSB: My style is pretty consistent: part ’70s boho, part ’80s preppy.

How does being a mom influence your style, if at all?
VMB: Being a designer and a mom has definitely stepped up my daywear. My kids tell me that the other kids at school know me as “the mom who is always in heels.” That said, I’m always on the hunt for style mixed with comfort and utility. Moms have to be ready for any type of situation!
VSB: My miniskirts are a little longer than they were before kids!

What’s your go-to uniform for day? Night?
VMB: The day is a wild card depending on what’s going on at night. Generally, I love jeans with a fabulous Dickey Jacket or coat. If I’m going out that night, I’ll either bring a fancy pair of shoes and a sparkly bag (to offset the jeans), or I’ll wear a silk dress with tights and boots.
VSB: My go-to is a blazer, striped T-shirt, skinny jeans, and stiletto Chelsea boots.

Career highlight?
VMB: Wooing our investors to believe in our brand and invest in our company!
VSB: Opening our first store!

What inspired your spring collection?
VSB: The collection was inspired by iconic women who capture the American spirit. The collection strikes the balance between nostalgic and modern.

Do you have a favorite piece from the new collection?
VMB: I love the navy Flynn Bow Blouse. It is a great day or evening top, and looks fantastic tucked into our jeans.
VSB: The Freedom biker jacket and Marilyn ruffle midi dress are my favorites.

Which spring trends are you looking forward to seeing?
VMB: Graphic stripes! And florals. Both are seen throughout our spring collection.

What’s been the best part about opening your own store?
VSB: We put so much effort into creating a space that our customers would fall in love with. The store feels like an extension of our homes and is a place where our customers not only want to shop, but also hang out. The best part is being able to immerse them in the world of Veronica Beard. In our own store, they are able to truly understand what our brand is all about.

Who’s the Veronica Beard woman?
VMB: The Veronica Beard woman is always on the go; whether she’s at her office, with her family, or out with friends. We design pieces that she can live in that are still cool, classic and chic.

Shop Veronica Beard at:
Mitchells, Westport, 203-227-5165
Richards, Greenwich, 203-622-0551
Intermix, Greenwich, 203-302-3200

Labor and Love

Kris Brock + Laura Vassar

The husband and wife duo behind Brock Collection began their partnership in design school. Kris Brock’s tailoring skills were a welcome match to Laura Vassar’s styling expertise and the two decided that they worked better as a team. Since the launch of their own label in 2013, they’ve created a series of critically acclaimed collections, developed a cult following for their take on denim and won top prize from the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund. In addition to enjoying such significant business wins, the couple celebrated with their own nuptials and, more recently, the birth of their son. For spring, they’ve delivered another collection marked by luxe minimalism, with elevated yet approachable foundation pieces in hues inspired by Laura’s native California. As in previous seasons, they’ve managed to balance modern shapes with couture construction, punctuated by feminine touches, floral prints and rich fabrics.

It’s not hard to see a reflection of their complementary talents and with an overall romantic feel, a tone that echoes their own love story.

What are your fashion-career backgrounds?
LV: My career in fashion began in L.A., working alongside the inimitable celebrity stylist Petra Flannery. Styling will always be a passion of mine and a part of who I am. Working as a celebrity then editorial stylist gave me the tools to pursue my dream of designing a womenswear collection. In my final semester at Parsons studying fashion design, I had the incredible experience of working with Olivier at Theyskens’ Theory. Shortly thereafter, Kris and I began our work on Brock Collection.
KB: When I was six, my mom tells me that I taught myself how to sew. I got into design because I’ve always been fascinated with construction. Growing up in south Texas, I opened a surf and skate shop at eighteen. In the back of the shop, I would alter things for customers, then I started to make clothes. I moved to New York to get involved in the fashion industry, and my first job was a production assistant on photo shoots. Being on some of the most incredible shoots opened my eyes to a whole new world. I loved it. I found my place as a tailor and quickly began working alongside top American designers on campaigns and runways shows: Calvin Klein, DVF, Tommy Hilfiger.

When did you decide you wanted to work together?
LV: One late night at school, Kris came to my table— while I was deep into my final project— and asked if I would help him on his dress for a few hours. Then we could work together on mine. I thought for a moment, then responded, “Absolutely.” At that moment, we both realized we were better as a team.

How do your own personal styles differ?
KB: It’s funny because each season we come to the drawing board with oddly similar directions. When we have different opinions, the conversation always leads us to push and elevate our work.

What’s the best part about working together?
LV: Working together— partners in love and labor— we understand one another in a way no one else may be able to. We can see and communicate each other’s vision so clearly, and work toward the same goal.

What’s the hardest part about working together?
KB: It can be challenging working together as we care so deeply about our work and the other’s opinion, but we challenge, push and motivate one another.

What’s your favorite part about designing a collection?
LV: I love the beginning and the end. My most favorite stage is in the initial stages, when I begin to sketch and we start fabric development. Then seeing the collection, in its entirety, in the end is both nerve-wracking and thrilling!
KB: Initial research, development and, ultimately, seeing the collection come full circle.

What inspired your spring collection?
LV: Spring began with a color palette. We thought a lot about natural elements in California, Joshua Tree more specifically. The palette was pulled from the colors of the sky during that middle-of-the-afternoon, when the sun is setting into the mountains. The blue sky turns to a variation of pale rose, pinks, blue, orange and natural tones. The color palette led us to develop organic, yet romantic, fabrics. We imagined the woman of this collection being a once-polished refined beauty from the 1960s in radiant clothing—polished hair and set makeup—traveling through a desert storm, windblown and disheveled.

How do your California/Texas roots influence your work?
KB: California is always on the mind. Our woman needs to have the same ease in her wardrobe that she has in her lifestyle. But much of our inspiration also comes from trips to Texas.

You do elevated classic looks so well. What are the foundation pieces every woman should have in her closet?
LV: Our woman covets a closet of classics: flattering jeans, fresh shirting staples, luxurious knitwear, plush outerwear and romantic occasion ensembles.

Shop Brock Collection at:
Copious Row, Greenwich, 203-340-2720



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