You would never know that Borris Powell’s fall 2013 collection was put together in less than six weeks—it looks painstakingly thought out. “I wasn’t even going to do a collection,” he says. “I wanted to skip a season because I’m doing a lot of rebranding. But I can’t stay away!” So, he pulled it all together in record time, and it turned out to be some of his best work yet. Yeah, he’s that good.
The resulting collection is dark and romantic, but still approachable. There’s gorgeous, forest green lace; heavy, tweed-like fabrics; slinky long sleeve black dresses with essential-in-Chicago fur shawls. But above all, every single look is polished. “I’m not into what people are calling the ‘comfy’ look,” he says. “I call it lazy dressing. If you’re going to be out and be seen, you need to look great at all times.” This goes for accessorizing, too, and we say that if you only get one piece this season, it’s got to be the Borris Powell bag. He’s soon introducing his fourth handbag, but the models in his fall 2013 show walked the runway toting a dark green, mid-size leather duffle that is the perfect chic carryon or oversized staple.
Next up for the designer: Borris Powell for men. He’s already donning a few of his own pieces (like the green plaid blazer he wore to our shoot), but hopes that by this time next year he’s wearing nothing but his own label. “I should, right?” he asks. “If anyone is wearing Borris Powell, it’s got to be me.”
above: PATTERNED BLOUSE, $385, and BOOT CUT PANT, $429, AND TAN BASKET WEAVE TOTE, $700, ALL BY BORRIS POWELL AT PURELY. VINTAGE LION PIN, FEATHER HAT AND RING, ALL AT LUXURY GARAGE SALE. OSTRICH BELT BY SAKS FIFTH AVENUE.
This year, Samantha Sleeper had a baby. Not the way designer’s often refer to collections as “my baby,” but a real-live, kicking, screaming—or in this case, rather tranquil—baby boy named Mason. But Samantha also unveiled a collection, one she says was inspired by her need for practical clothing while pregnant. “When I started working on the collection, I just wanted every piece to have a purpose in your closet,” she says.
Specifically, Sam was thinking about women in the office: the more casual dress codes of the modern age mixed with Seville Row and British sensibilities. It fills a void that’s been empty far too long: fashion-forward clothes that are office appropriate. But she could never completely abandon her signature edgy aesthetic. “A biker jacket is just so iconic to our brand,” she says. “So I redid that, as opposed to doing a blazer.” We can’t get enough of the hot pink patterned jacket that just toes the line of workwear, and a few other suit-meets-moto styles. But if ‘edgy’ scares you, take heart. “My [Samantha Sleeper] woman lives in every woman,” Samantha says. “It’s not contained to an age range or demographic; it’s more a state of mind.”
Sam’s current state of mind: busy. On top of working on her collection and launching e-commerce and a diffusion line with lower price points, Samantha also just landed the role of curatorial director for PurelyApp.com. Of course, her biggest priority right now is an easy choice: “Being Mason’s mom.”
above: KATRINA DRESS, $699, AND MOTO JACKET, $799, BOTH BY SAMANTHA SLEEPER AT PURELY. GOLD LION BRACELET BY BELLA COLLETTA. STILETTO PUMP BY VALENTINO AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE.
Ukrainian designer Tatyana Merenyuk has been designing for almost five years, but has stayed very consistent throughout her collections. He designs are always sweet, always sophisticated, and—as the name of her line, Reddoll, implies—always accented with her signature scarlet shade.
For fall 2013, this takes the form of a gorgeous red gown with a lace top—it’s both flowing and structured, the perfect mix—and an adorable scarlet knee-length frock with a very traditional collar. The rest of the collection is a series of separates in black, white and gray, but rich with texture and pattern: lace, houndstooth, lace and houndstooth (one of our favorite tops!). And just when you think you’ve got her figured out, Tatyana sends a bridal gown down the runway. Few designers can do both in one seamless collection, but it’s flawless with Reddoll. Tatyana’s inspiration board is mostly fabric swatches, as the foundation of her designs is the fabric. She has images of traditional Ukrainian clothing, flowers, multi-colored silks, and lace; and finds further inspiration in her mother, her stylish friends and, of course, Coco Chanel.
Tatyana got her start as a designer in Chicago, and the city will always be close to her heart. “But now I’m in New York City,” she says. “Trying to find my way.” Somehow, we think she’ll be just fine.
above left: NADIA BLOUSE, $329, BY REDDOLL AT PURELY. BRASS DAGGER EARRING BY BELLA COLLETTA. BELT BY SAKS AND PUMP BY VALENTINO, BOTH AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. above right: NATALIA BLOUSE, $249, BY REDDOLL AT PURELY. STONE BRACELET BY BELLA COLLETTA. BOOTIE BY CHANEL AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE.
Designer Nora del Busto had been practicing law for about three years when she noticed that all of her law books and notebooks were filled with sketches. “Clearly, I needed to do something where I could create more,” she says. “So I randomly took a tour of the International Academy of Design and Technology, and I enrolled that day.”
We are so glad she did, else the fashion world would be deprived of her delightfully understated, architecturally-inspired, perfect-for-a-party dresses and separates. Both Nora herself and the dresses she designs are the perfect combination of right brain and left brain—a creative product, inspired by practicality. “It’s like going to the grocery when you are hungry,” she says, explaining her design process. “Whatever you feel like eating is what you end up buying. Well, that’s kind of how I design.” One of our favorite gowns in her unnamed collection is a turtleneck, long-sleeve ensemble that Nora thought up because, well, she was really cold.
While her spring and summer collections will pop with bright hues like fuchsia, in fall and winter Nora’s darker palette is lit with metallics and shades of champagne. We look to Nora del Busto for our most structured pieces (bohemian she is not): cap sleeves and cinched or belted waists that are refined enough for the office, but fun enough for the happy hour.
on Nora left: CRUZ DRESS, $279, BY NORA DEL BUSTO AT PURELY. on model right: NIKA DRESS, $199, BY NORA DEL BUSTO AT PURELY. GILBERTA PUMP BY SCHUTZ AT VON Z.
In her entire, 13-piece fall/winter 2013 collection, Crystal B. Simms uses only two colors: black, and a gorgeous shade of blue so dark that it’s almost black itself. If you think that sounds boring, guess again—the severely structured lines and the perfectly form fitting fabric make Crystal’s designs some of the most elegant and innovative we’ve seen this season.
Throughout the collection, Crystal plays with the placement of the two colors. Sometimes the heavily-padded shoulders are blue against a straight, long black dress, other times the dress is blue with geometric black accents. She dubbed the collection Walk the Line, a name that has several meanings. “It’s a play on femininity and masculinity,” she says. “It’s being elegant and also sporty. It’s having a luxury look but an affordable feel.” Despite the comfortable feel—Crystal swears you could do yoga in the form-fitting Ponte double knit she uses for every piece—these ultra-mod gowns are not for the fashion faint of heart.
Then, after a dozen black and blue gowns go by, Crystal has a surprise up her long, fitted sleeve. An oh-so-luxe belted, knee length fur vest, her first-ever foray into fur. With her fashion, her fun personality, and, of course, her designs, Crystal always keeps us guessing.
on Crystal: NICOLE DRESS, $319, BY CRYSTAL B. DESIGNS AT PURELY. on model right: KIM DRESS, $329, BY CRYSTAL B. DESIGNS. DRUZY CHEST PIECE BY BELLA COLLETTA.
We never thought we’d say this but… we’re dying for a piece in mustard yellow. Designer Anastasia Chatzka successfully brings the color back into style with her fall 2013 collection: she incorporates the hue little by little—first around the collar of an otherwise patterned dress, then the top half of a gorgeous gown, and finally a full ensemble of autumnal yellow.
The bold hue is just the start of a fabulous collection. Anastasia’s been designing since high school and rolling out official collections since 2009; she learned technical skills working in New York City under designers like Anna Sui and Betsy Johnson; and she just opened a new boutique in Ukrainian Village (where, alongside her own wares, she sells jewelry by local designers, which we think is ultra cool). And, having been around the fashion block a time or two, Anastasia’s collections keep getting better. “The look is more refined,” she says. “I don’t want to say ‘adult,’ but the pieces aren’t as poppy and young looking. I think that comes with age.”
We agree that the silhouettes and the craftsmanship are refined, but we love how whimsical the patterns are; Anastasia creates all her own patterns using Adobe Illustrator. For fall 2013, two patterns emerged: one inspired by outer space, and another by a gold accented 1970s wallpaper found in her friend’s grandmother’s house. Anastasia is growing up as a designer, yes, but she’ll always be a flower child at heart.
above: BEA DOUBLE FLOUNCED DRESS, $349, BY ANASTASIA CHATZKA AT PURELY. FROZEN 2 SUNGLASSES BY DIOR AND HIGH BOOT BY CHANEL, BOTH AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. VINTAGE TASSEL EARRINGS AT VON Z.
What do a photograph of Chloe Nørgard’s hair, a photo of a super nova, and a variety of multi-colored candy canes have in common? They’re all the pinned onto designer Christina Fan’s inspiration board, serving as the influence for her fall 2013 collection. But her most important influence this season was her loyal fan base, and her fans wanted fur. So, veering from her typical outerwear, Christina designed a collection full of furs: 17 pieces in fun colors and with whimsical add-ons, the likes of which we haven’t seen anywhere else.
It’s impossible to decide which piece we’re most excited for, but we know that we’ll need The Bobby come winter, a wolf-grey hand warmer that brings Colonial chic into the modern era. Other pieces are inherently modern, though, like the playful Chelsea, an adorable black hat sporting cute cat ears—and not in the cheesy way you might be thinking. And hipsters will rejoice in The Toby, a teal and black belt loop accessory. “This collection has a sense of humor,” Christina admits, nothing that for next fall she’ll expand once more into a full line of outerwear.
It’s not all whimsy, though. The Penny is a cool vest, albeit purple, that looks great pulled over the shoulders and belted at the waist. And The Brett is a classic collar in an almost-classic color combo that can be dressed up or down. “I design for the everyday woman that seeks luxury and versatility in her wardrobe,” says Christina, who manages to make even her go-to Nirvana and Metallica t-shirts look luxe. “She loves a bit of risk and always has a love for color, and a great sense of humor.”
above left: KRIOS SWEATER, $199, AND SAMM SLOUCH PANTS, $529, BOTH BY C/FAN AT PURELY. SUNGLASSES BY TOM FORD AND PUMP BY VALENTINO, BOTH AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. TURBAN, VINTAGE GOLD NECKLACE AND CHLOE TASSLE NECKLACE, ALL AT LUXURY GARAGE SALE. above right: CECILY SHELL CROP TOP, $359, AND FINN A-LINE SKIRT, $349, BOTH BY C/FAN AT PURELY. SUNGLASSES BY CELINE AND BOOTIE BY CHANEL, BOTH AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. BLACK TASSLE NECKLACE BY KING OHNE AT LUXURY GARAGE SALE.
While most designers are going dark for fall, Miriam Cecilia rolls out a collection entitled Lumière, the French word for light. “It’s inspired by these winter scenes where shards of ice [catch the light] and there’s a sense of warmth,” she says, painting a picture as beautiful as the resulting collection, a juxtaposition of cool tones, warm tones, and—Miriam’s signature—glittery metallics.
Even the names of the 20 pieces in the collection fit the theme, from the Blustery Coat (one of our favorite pieces) and the Frost Frock to the Brisk Sheath and the Flurry Frock. Miriam’s two biggest statements in the collection, though, are a pair of over the top gowns: the one-shoulder, black-tie-ready Nightfall Gown has the most perfect silhouette, and the off-white Dusk Gown, no doubt inspired by the designer’s own wedding just this summer.
In fact, she designed her own gown—a feat many designers won’t even attempt because of the pressure and time constraints. “It was much harder than I thought it was going to be,” she says. “I wanted it to be elegant and simple yet I still want to have fun with it. I want it to be something not completely out of the ordinary, but have a little punch to it. I knew what I always envisioned, but when I got engaged I totally changed my vision.” It’s this very quality of back-and-forth, quirky overthinking that makes Miriam’s designs so impeccable, and we’d have her no other way.
above: KANIN CAPE, $299, AND FLURRY FROCK, $299, BOTH BY MIRIAM CECILIA. SUNGLASSES BY PRADA AND PARIS POINT TOE PUMP BY YVES SAINT LAURENT, BOTH AT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE. VINTAGE UNGARO EARRING AT LUXURY GARAGE SALE. STYLIST’S OWN GLOVES.