In With the Bold

MORE IS MORE
STACEY BENDET

Stacey Bendet’s alice + olivia, a brand that may conjure up images of flirty dresses and feminine designs, all started with pants. But they weren’t just any pants. Bendet, proving to be a visionary right out of college, did not let her lack of formal training stop her from creating a pair of sexy and form-fitting trousers—something she searched for but was unable to find in the denim-dominated market of the early aughts. After demand from friends and orders from Barneys led to requests for a larger collection, Bendet teamed up with a college classmate to form alice + olivia (named after their mothers). Today, the fashion powerhouse includes a full ready-to-wear collection with accessories and pieces that reflect the playful and bold style that got Bendet noticed in the first place. Looks inspired by the 70s have been dominating the runways for the past few seasons, with fall being no exception. Bendet has always embraced the silhouettes from this decade (those first pants were a version of bell bottoms, after all), and her new collection injects bright primary shades onto patterns adorned with metallic embroidery, rich suede and multi-color fur. Never understated, they’re the wardrobe separates suited for and created by the fierce woman who continues to stand out as the brand’s dynamic force.

How did you get started designing?
I started sewing in college and I started designing pants when I graduated. At first I was just making them for myself, then it was for friends, and it just started to grow from there.

What’s been your career highlight so far?
It’s hard to give one instance, and I tend to look forward more than backward. Every day I try to have a highlight!

How does NYC influence your designs?
The NYC woman is the alice + olivia woman. She is strong, fierce and stylish. I always think of the NYC woman when I design. I want to dress her for all parts of her life.

Your newest collection feels more 70s than ever. Tell us about the inspiration.
It was about late 70s NYC, a period when New York was culturally and creatively exploding but financially imploding. It was such an incredibly interesting period, and the clothes from that era have always inspired me.

Your looks are known for being colorful and bold. How important is that attitude to your brand?
Very. I want a woman to walk into our store and smile. I want her to walk out and know she just bought something she would never find anywhere else.

Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
From fall, I am loving our embroidered birds on bell bottoms and skirts, and our green snake-embossed leather skirts.

What’s the most fun part of the design process?
That it changes all of the time.

Any favorite fall trends that you’re looking forward to seeing?
Rainbow suede boots and A-line skirts.

Describe the alice + olivia woman.
She’s every woman. She loves to have fun with her wardrobe. She’s empowered and empowering.

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?
That I wake up before 5 a.m. every day to do Ashtanga yoga!

335 Greenwich Ave, Greenwich; 203-826-8540; aliceandolivia.com


HEART & SOLE
STUART WEITZMAN

The success of Stuart Weitzman’s ever-expanding footwear business lies in his ability to understand what women want. For formal events, no shoe is more popular than his Nudist sandal, a thin-strapped heel favored by Oscar-attendees and gala-goers. And come fall, his iconic 5050 boot—a genius combination of leather and stretch fabric—becomes the cold weather staple of every stylish woman’s wardrobe. Both have reached best-seller status because they represent the larger brand’s dedication to crafting a line that combines sophisticated design with a focus on fit and comfort. For Weitzman, his education in footwear began with his own father’s shoe company, where his early sketches proved his talent as a designer. Armed with a degree from Wharton, he established his own eponymous label and used his business savvy to grow the company into one of the most successful global luxury brands. As Weitzman celebrates over three decades as the company’s CEO and creative director, we asked the New York native (and Greenwich resident) about inspiration, an evolving fashion industry and the thrill of producing a new collection, season after season.

How did you get started designing?
Drawing and crafting was always a hobby, and after I apprenticed under my father at this factory, I decided to turn my hobby into a career.

What’s been your career highlight so far?
Making the 1 millionth pair of the 5050 boot.

How does NYC influence your designs?
The girls are original, bold and creative. They exude more fashion and inspire more than any runway show.

Tell us about the colors you focused on for fall. What was the inspiration behind some of the designs?
Our color palette for fall is an array of rich autumnal hues: walnut, slate, bordeaux, scarlet and dark metallic gold. Women inspire me in new ways each season, as I am always designing for them.

How has the industry changed since you started your line?
The independent thinking woman has caused a revolution in how we design and what we design: more choices and more comfort. The advancements in technology had its impact also, broadening our design spectrum and providing many more tools to advance fit and comfort.

Do you have a favorite shoe from the fall collection?
I still love the over-the-knee stretch boots, especially the updated Tieland with block heel and Leggylady in velvet.

What’s the best part of the design process?
I have never been able to beat imagining what women want, and enjoy creating that for them.

Do you follow runway trends?
It’s important to always stay current and remain aware of what women want now, but runway trends are yesterday’s news to a designer.

Dream client? Marilyn Monroe

Any favorite fall footwear trends that you’re looking forward to seeing?
Viva la velvet! This opulent fabric will make a statement for fall in a variety of our iconic silhouettes.

Describe the Stuart Weitzman woman.
I design for the modern woman, who wants high fashion yet doesn’t have to sacrifice comfort.

Where do you come up with the names for the styles?
Each style speaks for itself and almost shouts out the name it should have.

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?
If I wasn’t a shoe designer, I would be a professional Ping-Pong player. I love the game!

120 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich; 203-622-5036; stuartweitzman.com


HISTORY WORTH REPEATING
BRETT HEYMAN

For Brett Heyman, what began with a vintage obsession has grown into a handbag empire. The secondhand treasure hunting started in her teenage years and followed her through a career as a Gucci executive, where Heyman focused her collector’s eye on acrylic evening bags from the 1950s and 1960s. When she could no longer track down the beloved clutches, she decided to re-create her own line of retro-inspired pieces, and Edie Parker was born. In addition to the signature box shape and rainbow of glittering shades, Heyman smartly made the pieces of wearable art customizable, offering up glamorous and cheeky alternatives to the classic monogram. Red carpet regulars like Kate Hudson, Kerry Washington and Gwyneth Paltrow and front-row fashion insiders jumped at the chance to show off their personalized clutches, getting the attention of the stylish set and making an Edie Parker original the new coveted accessory on the social scene. Recent collections have expanded beyond the original acrylic designs to include metal, exotic skins, leather and velvet and a series of new silhouettes. With plans that include growing the brand even further, Heyman hopes her devotees will continue to get as excited as she once was to score the mid-century bags that started it all. They may be easier to find, but they’re just as special.

How did you get started?
It was an accident, really. I had no intention to start my own line. I just wanted to remake the vintage acrylic clutches I could no longer find. Every time I wore a clutch, someone stopped me to ask about it. There aren’t a lot of brands that focus on evening bags, so I got to work and here we are!

Where did the name Edie Parker come from?
My daughter’s name is Edie Parker Heyman. In addition to my daughter, I love the name because it reminds me of chic Edies throughout history–Edie Beale, Edie Sedgwick, Edie Parker Kerouac.

Why acrylic?
I have always loved fashion, and especially vintage fashion. I started collecting bags from the 1950s and 1960s when I was in high school. They became increasingly difficult to find and I sought out to make some for myself. Today, our designs pay homage to this period not only in aesthetic but in the way they are made. Like their mid-century predecessors, each bag is handmade by skilled artisans committed to their craft.

There’s definitely a Deco feel in your latest collection. What was the inspiration for the newest pieces?
The Fall 2016 collection is influenced by jeweler Suzanne Belperron. Her work was first inspired by the Art Deco movement and later became more experimental with the use of organic shapes and gemstones. This season the styles trace her path.

How does living in NYC inspire your designs?
Living in a city like New York, I see inspiration everywhere—architecture, museums, street style. The hard part is editing and not doing too much all at once.

Your bags are known for being colorful and fun. How important is that attitude to your brand? Very.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned or best advice you’ve been given working in the fashion world?
Be nice to everyone.

How would you describe your own style? Classic, slightly androgynous at times, yet
with a penchant for miniskirts.

Favorite decade for fashion?
1970s.

Who’s your dream celebrity client?
Sienna Miller, Marianne Faithfull, Michelle Obama.

What would we always find in your clutch?
Eyeliner, lip gloss, gum, a credit card, tissues and my iPhone.

What’s next for Edie Parker?
We just launched a collection of home accessories in our signature acrylic. We will continue to expand home, the breadth of our handbags, and would love to launch jewelry, eyewear, etc.

Shop Edie Parker at:
Mitchells, Westport, 203-227-5165
Richards, Greenwich, 203-622-0551

edie-parker.com

 

 

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