Tuesday, October 7th 2014

Q&A with PARTYSKIRTS Designers Lauren & Mariel Armstrong

The designers of PARTYSKIRTS by SKOT are sisters, best friends, and coworkers—and they manage to make it all work. Lauren and Mariel Armstrong launched the brand after making skirts for themselves and promptly finding themselves inundated with orders from friends. The duo continues to add more colors and lengths each season, as well as a range of pieces to complete every PARTYSKIRTS by SKOT ensemble. We got a chance to chat with the two about life, work, and their spirit shoe.

SHOPBOP: If you weren’t designers of your own line, what kind of day job would you have?
MARIEL: I would still love to work in fashion—ideally working in design or creative direction for another brand I love.
LAUREN: Something we had to learn quickly with our own business is the world of social media, and I have grown to really love it! I would love to do it for a brand I love and admire one day.

SB: Describe your personal style in three words or less.
M: Stylish, comfortable, and quirky.
L: Classic, sophisticated, and casual (we live in Vancouver, after all!).

SB: Love that you added “Lady Lengths” to your line! What’s the next big step for PARTYSKIRTS?
M + L: We are adding a third length this winter! A “Full Length” skirt, which everyone has been asking about for a while. It is such a fun and versatile alternative for black-tie attire. We also love it just paired with a tee, leather jacket, and flats for a dinner out. We will be adding more items to wear with PARTYSKIRTS for Spring 2015.

SB: When you are your own boss, it can be hard to strike a balance between work and play. How do you ladies do it?
M: It helps getting to work together. Whenever we are feeling run down we have each other to perk one another up. So sometimes work turns into play and vice versa.
L: We joke that we take turns having a bad day, but it is true. We also make an effort to do things together as sisters that don’t involve PARTYSKIRTS.

SB: Be honest—what are the best and worst things about working with your sister?
M: They kind of go hand in hand. But if I had to decide, I would say the best part is that we know each other so well and we have so much fun together. The worst part is that we fight, but it never lasts and that is because we are sisters.
L: The best part is that I get to walk into the office every morning and see my best friend! Every day is different for us, and it has been amazing to grow together. The worst part is when issues come up in our business and there is tension between us as sisters! But we are pretty quick to get over it, as we have had many years of resolving sisterly fights and we don’t have time to dwell on things.

SB: How would you style a PARTYSKIRT at the office?
M: I’d pair it with a T-shirt and Converse sneakers.
L: With a cashmere turtleneck, black tights, and a cute pair of flats.

SB: Just for fun: if you were a shoe, what kind would you be?
M: A Charlotte Olympia Kitty flat.
L: A Chanel ballet flat.


Tuesday, May 28th 2013

Shopbop Alum Kate Ciepluch on Her Line, LAVEER

LAVEER Designer Kate Ciepluch wearing the Maxwell Vest.

If you’ll indulge us for a moment, we’re going to get a little gushy. We can hardly be blamed, seeing as how the subject of our pride is the former Shopbop fashion director, Kate Ciepluch. The woman who launched her fashion career with us and, in turn, played a pivotal role in making Shopbop into the fashion destination it is today has ventured out on her own, designing a line of jackets and vests that will find (and have found) an easy place in cool closets across the country and the globe.

We took some time to talk with Kate about her time at Shopbop and the inspiration behind LAVEER.

SHOPBOP: You worked at Shopbop for a decade before leaving to launch LAVEER. What was the hardest thing to adjust to after branching out on your own?
KATE CIEPLUCH: At Shopbop, I had partners in crime. Whether I was in market looking at a rack or choosing an image for the homepage, it was a collaborative effort with amazing minds voicing their perspectives. Now, I have to make major decisions on my own on everything from the business end/financials to the design elements. I catch myself turning to ask someone else their opinion, but at the end of the day, it's all on me. Scary! But so fun!

SB: You really cut your teeth at Shopbop, starting at the Madison, Wisconsin, headquarters and eventually playing a key role in opening the New York office. How did that experience prepare you to launch your own label?
KC: My experience at Shopbop showed me what it was like to work at a startup that became wildly successful. Rolling up your sleeves and figuring out how to get EVERYTHING done in all capacities. There is no “that’s not a part of my role” or “that’s not my job.” I also had the privilege of meeting really wonderful people in this industry and watching brands grow from infancy to having important runway shows during NY fashion week. I was able to absorb how their collections did at the retail level, how to create a brand that embodies the girl in your head, and to understand what is missing in her closet and what fashion will inspire her to make a purchase. No easy task...

SB: You took the name LAVEER from an old nautical term meaning “to sail against the wind.” What does that mean for your brand?
KC: When I had the idea of starting a fashion line focusing on the jacket, I dove in and researched the category. I read stories about the history of blazers, field jackets, bomber jackets, motorcycle jackets—what purpose they were intended to serve and why they were constructed the way they were. The name points to the mission of my designs: to always have that tailored heritage silhouette, while going against the grain with details. For example, all of my jackets have an inside pocket that fits an iPhone perfectly. When I’m walking to work listening to music, it gives me really easy access to my phone.

SB: How does your personal style influence the LAVEER look?
KC: I have always enjoyed balancing something earthy and free with something mature and tailored. There are prints, fabrics, and colors that always find their way into my life, whether I’m painting my living room or buying a piece of wrapping paper for a gift. I love that tomboy / military / preppy look done a little gritty and badass.

SB: Summer is just around the corner. How will you work LAVEER into your summer look?
KC: Summer is the time when airy, PJ-inspired silk bottoms feel appropriate. Coupled with my Maxwell Vest or Cropped Contour Blazer, the look is more powerful and sexy, less hippie-dippy. I specifically had weddings in mind when I designed the Cropped Contour Blazer because I was so sick of wearing shawl scarves over my dresses.

Shop LAVEER jackets.

Thursday, April 18th 2013

Designer Interview: Paul Andrew

Paul Andrew creates footwear with the seemingly impossible ability to turn heads without breaking ankles. His stunning designs match high-fashion style with hours-long comfort due to a meticulous obsession with fit. He filled us in on the inspiration behind his latest collection, his design process, and career advice he’s received from some of the top names in fashion.

SHOPBOP: What inspired the spring/summer 2013 collection?
PAUL ANDREW: I am something of a formalist, believing that good design is often inspired by good design. After a visit to the art space Dia:Beacon, I was incredibly inspired by Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses. The way his sculptures shape space rather than material is entrancing. It really affected my design process and the lines of the shoes.

SB: Impeccable craftsmanship, fit, and comfort are qualities of a Paul Andrew shoe, yet you never sacrifice style. How do you balance it all?
PA: Anyone who knows me knows I'm obsessed with the fit and comfort of my shoes! I hand-make the first prototype of every shoe and draw every pattern. I also work with tanneries, mills, and embroiderers to develop the majority of my materials to guarantee quality and exclusivity. This means a lot of travel between my design studio in NYC and the factory in Italy, where the shoes are handmade by a team of artisans. But, working in this way ensures the best results.

SB: Sleeker shapes have made their way back to the style scene. How do you keep a shoe sexy without going too severe?
PA: Platform footwear has certainly become the mainstream styling of today, but my focus has been to turn attention back to the exquisite lightness of the stiletto heel and single sole. I'm striving to create shoes that are sexy, yet sophisticated, with a fantastical influence from artisan—almost couture—techniques. For me, the key in making a single-sole shoe sexy without severity is to keep things light. Elegance and sophistication are in the details.

You’ve worked with a number of amazing designers. What was the best piece of advice you received?
PA: I am so fortunate to have worked alongside some of the most accomplished designers in the business. I've learned so much from each of them, so it's difficult to pinpoint a single piece of advice. As a design apprentice at Alexander McQueen, Lee's unfathomable creativity taught me a new way of thinking about design. After working with Narciso Rodriguez, his talent to simultaneously balance sleek lines, grown-up sophistication, and sex appeal has always stayed with me. Then, years at Calvin Klein taught me about standing firm to your original idea. And my last stop before launching my collection, the better part of a decade at Donna Karen, instilled in me the importance of original design, impeccable quality, fit, and comfort. I will always carry these ideals with me.

SB: If you could design a shoe for any woman in history, who would it be and why?
PA: I've always enjoyed watching films from the ’30s and ’40s, which has fostered a particular fondness for Ingrid Bergman, Gene Tierney, and especially Marlene Dietrich. I would have loved to have designed Marlene's shoes in Shanghai Express.

Shop Paul Andrew shoes.

Thursday, April 11th 2013

Lyndsey Butler on Veda Spring 2013

For spring 2013, Veda designer Lyndsey Butler took a trip back in time, visiting the psychedelic aesthetic that defined the 1960s. Part of her process involved a collaboration with tie-dye artist Courtenay Pollock, best known for designing colorful creations for The Grateful Dead. We spoke with Lyndsey about the collection and working with Pollock.

SHOPBOP: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the Veda spring 2013 collection.
LYNDSEY BUTLER: The spring 2013 inspiration list looks like this: acid tests, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, hot springs, Tom Wolfe, Hells Angels, old ladies, psychedelic art, The Crow, powwow, Daisies (1966), Wavy Gravy, and smoke bombs.

SB: You worked with Courtenay Pollock to create tie-dye pieces. How did that collaboration come about?
LB: We heard whispers about a tie-dye artist in Canada who had worked with The Grateful Dead, and we sort of thought it sounded too good to be true. But we did a little research and got in touch with the amazing Courtenay Pollock. He is a true artist and craftsman and a total pleasure to work with. We sent him some silk fabric and told him about our color inspiration for the season, and he sent us back these beautiful pieces of art (that were really hard to cut up into clothes).

SB: The tie-dye pieces mark a new look for Veda. How do they tie into the brand’s overall aesthetic?
LB: Spring is always a fun season for us because we can cut loose a little. For the fall and winter collections, our retailers are coming to us for the staples—cool leather jackets to keep their girls warm—but spring leather is a little less traditional.

Originally, the collection was just supposed to be some tie-dyed silk accents with black leather motorcycle jackets (think “hippy cult motorcycle gang”), but I just became obsessed with the idea of head-to-toe tie-dye. We started tie-dyeing everything we could get our hands on: leather jackets, denim, vintage T-shirts.

SB: What kind of girl in particular will this collection appeal to?
LB: I think the collection will appeal to a cool fashion girl. And maybe we will spot a few Veda silk tie-dye tops on the festival round-ups.

SB: What’s your favorite piece from the collection?
LB: My favorite piece is the Ezra tie-dye jacket with black leather details. It’s the perfect spring/summer jacket, and each one is unique. We only made a limited amount of these jackets, exclusively for Shopbop, and they were all made from silk that was hand-dyed by Courtenay Pollock, then cut and sewn in our NYC studio.

Shop Veda.
Check out the brand’s recently relaunched website.

Thursday, April 4th 2013

Inside Aquazzura: Exclusive Interview with Edgardo Osorio

If you’re interested in knowing what’s next in luxury footwear, you should be interested in knowing Edgardo Osorio, creative director and founder of Aquazzura. Business of Fashion rightly placed Osorio “at the vanguard of luxury footwear” with five other designers, and two minutes in his covetable shoes makes it easy to see why. A perfect blend of style and comfort with a dash of sex appeal, Aquazzura shoes have earned fans throughout the fashion industry (and in the Shopbop offices). We spoke with Osorio about his collection and what makes the perfect shoe.

SHOPBOP: What inspired you to launch Aquazzura?
EDGARDO OSORIO: After over ten years working for many different luxury brands, I wanted to create my own line following a very specific aesthetic and sensibility. I think after all the craziness that we’ve seen in the past few years in shoes, women want to get back to wearing something more elegant, but in a new way. With Aquazzura, I wanted to create a line of beautiful shoes that were sophisticated, beautifully made, and felt fresh and feminine. For me, it’s not about creating sculptures or architecture, it’s about making women beautiful.

SB: Tell us about the spring collection.
EO: This summer is all about Mexico and cocktails! It all started in Isabel Goldsmith’s hotel, Las Alamandas, in Careyes, Mexico. I loved the design because it’s quite minimal, but done in beautiful colors that remind me of cocktails. I love to have a fun aspect in my shoes. Fashion should be fun.

SB: You were born in Colombia, raised in Miami and London, and your brand is based in Florence. How do these varied geographies influence your aesthetic?
EO: I feel very lucky to have been able to live in such different places. It gives me a very different perspective on style. My aesthetic is like me—a mix. I was born in Cartagena, raised between Miami and London, and have been living in Florence for the past nine years. Aquazzura mixes all of these different influences. It’s Italian style with Latin flair and American ease. Also, as a Latin man, I like to make a woman sexy and beautiful, but I never want her to be vulgar.

Top: Aquazzura Creative Director Edgardo Osorio. Above: the perforated Sexy Thing bootie.

SB: How would you describe the Aquazzura customer? Who is wearing your shoes?
EO: I don’t like to think I design for a specific kind of woman. I like to think that my shoes are trans-generational. I think all women, no matter what age they are, want to look young and beautiful. I try to address this need. I think my customer loves to travel, has a taste for beautiful things, and wants to enjoy life.

She’s also a modern woman who probably has a hectic and active life, and she wants to look beautiful any time of the day, which is where the comfort factor comes in. I want women to be able to walk in my shoes all day and feel great.

SB: The Sexy Thing bootie has fans across the globe (including several people in the Shopbop offices). What do you think it is about this style that makes it appeal to so many women?
EO: The Sexy Thing bootie perfectly embodies the Aquazzura style: it’s sexy, modern, and yet incredibly comfortable and easy to wear. It’s a shoe you can wear from day to night, for twelve hours straight without getting eleven new blisters. Sexy Thing is probably the most comfortable high heel on the market. I like to make sexy shoes woman can walk in all day and dance in all night!

SB: In your opinion, what is the single most important characteristic every pair of shoes should have?
EO: Any shoe you buy and wear should always make you look great and feel great! With shoes, it’s a love affair—you must fall in love to buy it. It’s a completely emotional experience.

SB: And finally, we have to know: what's the significance of the pineapple in your logo?
EO: The pineapple is one part of the Aquazzura signature. It’s a symbol of good fortune and my Colombian touch. The other part is the color of my boxes and dust bags, which is Yves Klein blue, which happens to be my favorite color.

Shop Aquazzura shoes.

Tuesday, March 19th 2013

Meet Swedish Fashion Import, Dagmar

The sister-designers behind the Swedish label, Dagmar.

Introducing Dagmar, a collection designed by Swedish sisters Kristina Tjäder, Karin Söderlind, and Sofia Wallenstam. Named for the trio’s grandmother, a tailor who inspired the sisters to develop their interest in fabrics and design at a young age, Dagmar samples from art deco influences to create innovative pieces with a focus on knits. We talked with Kristina, Karin, and Sofia about their brand and their inspiration.

SHOPBOP: Tell us a little about Dagmar. How would you describe the brand’s aesthetic?
DAGMAR: Dagmar is both unconventional and sophisticated. We like to say the style is best described as relaxed luxury with attitude.

SHOPBOP: Your grandmother, who was a tailor, serves as the muse for the line. Can you tell us a little about how she inspires each collection?
DAGMAR: She was a bit quirky and fun, and always mixed and matched patterns and colors in a great way. We always have this in mind while working on new designs. She also had a weakness for nice fabrics and high quality, and so do we.

Three looks from the Dagmar spring 2013 runway: Clem sweater, Pallas Athena skirt/dress, and Lutha dress.

SHOPBOP: Craftsmanship plays a big role in Dagmar. Why is this element important to you?
DAGMAR: We’re nerds about nice quality and love good seam or a well-made knitted piece.

SHOPBOP: The spring collection has a relaxed, fluid, sensual feel. Tell us about the inspiration behind it.
DAGMAR: The name of the collection is Bio Architecture, and it’s a blend of delicate and rough, high tech and traditional. It comes from our inner longing to go back to nature, but without compromising with modern facilities or constant connection to the rest of the world.

SHOPBOP: Discuss the color palette of the spring collection—a stunning mix of colors both vibrant and subtly muted. What story does it tell?
DAGMAR: We have taken mineral and sandy hues, and we mixed in the colors of the sunset when it is as bright as it can get. The palette is inspired by nature and the shades of Earth’s layers.

SHOPBOP: Do you have a favorite piece from the spring collection? What makes it special?
DAGMAR: This spring, we are all longing for color, so our favorites include the Clem sweater in a neon sunset shade, and the Pallas Athena skirt/dress and Lutha dress.

Shop Dagmar Spring 2013.

Thursday, March 7th 2013

Designer Interview: Gabby Sabharwal of Giejo

13_03_07_blog_swim (2)

After a long winter of comfy sweaters and thick fabrics, the idea of sheading the layers for a sexy bikini can terrify even the most confident woman. But after chatting with the designer of the fun and flattering swim line Giejo, we can’t wait to throw on this little number and hit the beach.

SHOPBOP: Shopping for swimsuits is universally nerve-racking. How do you make the experience more fun?
Gabby Sabharwal: I couldn’t agree more! The bad lighting and cramped fitting rooms all lead to an experience that is incredibly daunting. Try shopping with a group of girlfriends—they always know what to say to make you feel good, but are still honest. Or shop online. You can try everything on in the privacy of your home when you are feeling your best.

SB: Giejo is your childhood nickname. Where did it come from?
GS: When I was younger, that’s what my mom called me. It all started because my brother had a hard time pronouncing my name and called me something to this effect. It just stuck with me.

SB: You design very flattering suits. How would you advise a women looking to the perfect fit for her body type?
GS: When considering what styles look best on you, zero in on your confidence, personality, and style rather than just your body type. If you feel comfortable and confident in a suit, it shows! Every Giejo piece is designed to be personalized and fit different body types. The tops have adjustable back closures and removable straps that can be ruched tighter or wider. This season, I also introduced one-pieces to the collection. The Skinny Suit has a body-con feel, with black colorblocking at the sides, giving the illusion of an even slimmer torso!

SB: Where do you find your inspiration?
GS: I draw inspiration from the world around me, especially everyone in New York. I could spend hours people watching. I also wanted to challenge the way swimsuits are presented in the market. Girls today do not wear head-to-toe designer and usually wear a mix of high and low, so why don't we have that option with our swim? With Giejo, you can take your favorite pieces from your current swim wardrobe and update it easily with a few of our new styles.

SB: What are the best accessories for a swimsuit?
GS: Confidence—just throw on your suit and go!

Finally, we asked Gabby to put together her top songs for an epic beach party. Check out her playlist, pick out a new suit, and get ready for an amazing summer.

Thursday, February 7th 2013

Introducing the Muglerette M Bag by Nicola Formichetti

The Muglerette M Bag, part of Nicola Formichetti’s capsule collection for Mugler. All photos by David X Prutting/

On Tuesday, Shopbop hosted a soiree that both kicked off New York Fashion Week and celebrated the launch of Nicola Formichetti’s capsule collection of handbags for Mugler. Famous fashion faces (the guest list included Leigh Lezark, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, and Man Repeller Leandra Medine, to name a few) rubbed elbows, sipped champagne, and ogled the new Muglerette M Bag available exclusively at Shopbop.

Nicola Formichetti with Julia Restoin Roitfeld.

Leigh Lezark.

Nicola Formichetti with the woman behind The Man Repeller, Leandra Medine.

READ MORE Introducing the Muglerette M Bag by Nicola Formichetti

Friday, February 1st 2013

They’re the Bop: Satu & Celeste Greenberg from Tuleste Market

Rumor has it that Tuleste Market's studio is just downstairs from a Gossip Girl heartthrob's apartment, but that's not why I visited them. (Okay, it's not entirely why I visited them.) Instead, it was to check out sisters Satu and Celeste Greenberg's famous "puffy heart" pendants in person, and to uncover stories about Alicia Silverstone, whom they recently styled for the Sundance comedy Ass Backwards.

Along the way, I got a sneak peek at their newest baubles and a crash course in how to get dressed in a teepee—something the sisters did in high school. (And frankly I sympathize, since my parents' old house was way too small for a walk-in closet, too.)

FARAN KRENTCIL You live and work together, so does that mean you share clothes?
CELESTE: All the time. Every day.
SATU: Usually I forget what's hers and what's mine.
CELESTE: Usually?!
SATU: That's the thing about living with your sister—you basically double your wardrobe. I won't lie; it's really fun. And obviously, our jewelry is community property. We just pile it on as we come downstairs in the morning.

FK: Has it always been that way? Did you share a closet in high school?
SATU: Basically.
CELESTE: Except it was sort of a teepee.

READ MORE They’re the Bop: Satu & Celeste Greenberg from Tuleste Market

Tuesday, January 22nd 2013

Raul Penaranda for Gorjana

Pieces from the Raul for Gorjana collection.

Jewelry designer Gorjana Reidel and womenswear designer Raul Penaranda met at Coterie, one of fashion’s largest tradeshows, and as their story goes, it was a professional match made in heaven. The two kept in touch, and soon developed a collaborative collection that exemplifies their equally energetic and fun-loving personalities.

The pieces combine the best of Gorjana and Raul Penaranda. Shades of rose and yellow gold create a rich elegance, while graphic elements and strong, yet rough-hewn lines evoke an eye-catching playfulness. “I never thought that two creative minds could work so well together,” says Penaranda. “The outcome of this project is an exquisite jewelry collection that has soul, charm, and personality.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Shop the Raul for Gorjana collection.

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