"Where beauty, fashion, and success wear lipstick and six-inch heels"

HH Spotlight: Jelena Lasic, Fashion Designer & HH Illustrator

 

Jelena Lasic is certainly a special spotlight for us, as she is a huge representation of the HerHattan brand. With her modern, fashionable illustrations that adorn HerHattanNYC.com (as well as our Facebook Page, Twitter Page, Pinterest Page, Google+ Page, and more), Lasic is the epitome of a HerHattan-esque girl

Originally from Bosnia, Lasic came to New York City to study fashion design at Parsons The New School for Design. It was only a mere two years ago, when I spotted Lasic’s talents, as she started to illustrate fashionable women at a bar one night, in Manhattan’s Chelsea district. With a marker and a slice of paper in hand, in about 20 seconds flat, Lasic had drawn a rendition of a fashionable woman in the nightlife scene. It caught my eye. She caught me eye. From then on, Lasic has been HerHattan’s sole illustrator, bringing a sense of fashion and lifestyle to the brand. 

Now, after graduating, falling in love, getting married, and moving to Croatia where Lasic is a proud mother, she has launched her own Jelena Lasic fashion line. When asked how she describes her designs, she explains, “The looks are very romantic and feminine…  I really wanted my customer to have choices depending on what she feels like wearing at a certain time, and to dress for a specific occasion.” 

So, what inspires this Bosnian beauty? “I enjoy the outdoors especially when taking long walks. When I take a break, I look around and start sketching because there is so much to see and be inspired by, and that’s where I find a lot of inspiration,” she explains. It is no wonder that Lasic is starting to set the tone for Croatia’s fashion scene, all-the-while keeping her roots from Bosnia, and her love for New York, still in tact. 

                                              

Give us a little history on where you’re from, how you got to NYC, and then finally to Croatia. 

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. When the war started in 1992, my family and I moved to Germany when I was five-years-old, and then to the U.S. at age 12, when my parents decided that the U.S. would offer my brother and I the opportunity for a strong education and better life.

First, we moved to New Hampshire where I attended high school and started to compete in many art competitions throughout the state. I entered the NH Scholastic Awards annually and won numerous silver and gold key awards for my artwork. I have been painting and drawing since I was 10-years-old, and was mentored by a famous German-based painter, Azra Arapovic. During high school, I became interested in design, specifically clothes.

Fashion design is a great way to express my vision and creativity, which is why I decided to apply to Parsons The New School for Design, and that’s how I got to NYC. I finally ended up in Croatia, right after graduation, because LOVE brought me here! While studying and working in New York, I met my husband who was visiting NYC, and we fell in love. I became pregnant during my senior thesis, and right after graduation I moved to Croatia to give birth to my precious son, Karlo.

What’s one major fashion difference you noticed right away between Croatia and NYC?

Women in both cities, NYC and Zagreb, dress very similar. Yet, in NYC, I could see more women dressed down during the day, than I would in Zagreb, Croatia. It seems that women here are dressed for appearance 24/7. I also must say that the biggest fashion difference I’ve noticed is that for men. Almost all men here wear the man purse, which is very rare in NYC. Here, it’s a must-have for them at all times.

What do you think is the hardest part of studying fashion in NYC, and the most beneficial part?

The hardest part is definitely that the fashion industry is very competitive, and there are a lot of very talented designers in one place. You have to work really hard and be committed, but also stand out. The most beneficial part is that NYC offers endless opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in fashion.

How would you describe the styles/looks of your designs?

The looks are very romantic and feminine. I designed a mini-collection of 10 looks, offering my customer something for the day, to wear to work, and something for the evening, as well as editorial pieces. I really wanted my customer to have choices depending on what she feels like wearing at a certain time, and to dress for a specific occasion.

What was your inspiration behind your designs?

I enjoy the outdoors especially when taking long walks. When I take a break, I look around and start sketching because there is so much to see and be inspired by, and that’s where I find a lot of inspiration. The inspiration behind this specific collection followed the theme of nature, inspired by the flow of water, and tree rings, which is a reoccurring design element throughout the collection. The process of production included a lot of work done by hand.

Describe your personal style. Does your line represent your personal style as well? 

Casual Chic. My personal style has changed over time, especially after becoming a mother. I started to move my style towards more comfortable and practical. My line certainly represents my point of view and looks I would wear.

When it comes to fashion, what is one rule by which you live?

It should always be about the overall look no matter what you choose to wear. You should always think about how to put it all together to create that one great look.

Who is your favorite designer?

Alexander McQueen

What is your favorite store to shop at? 

H&M

What advice can you give to other aspiring fashion designers studying in NYC?

Work hard, believe in yourself and follow your vision.

What can we look for next from you?

I am currently working on a Spring Summer Collection for 2013!

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Fashion Star’s Kara Laricks Takes Over the Fashion World

Kara Laricks has been our fashion star since March 21st, 2011, when we wrote about her Collar, Stand + Ties and her “glorious dust,” as she called it–Believe in your vision. Keep your mind wide open and be both patient and diligent. Focus on the positive tiny steps you make. And for those who may doubt you? Leave them in your glorious dust!” And she certainly did, as nothing held her back from keeping the confidence and authentic style she embodied from the start. 

NBC picked up Laricks on the new hit TV series, Fashion Star, which airs every Tuesday evening. With only a few more episodes left, Laricks has stolen the fashion heart of Saks Fifth Avenue starting from episode two. From then on, Saks just cannot seem to get enough (as can’t we). 

Fashion Star or not, one of the best qualities about this star-rising, blue-eyed lady, is her continuous positive and personable attitude towards life and ambitions. When asked if being a fourth grade teacher made an impact on her fashion career, she said, “There is no doubt in my mind that being a teacher prepared me for my fashion career. I learned how to work with and organize so many different types of people, how to balance 50 tasks in any given moment and how to use my passion to inspire others. I think those are skills that would benefit me in any career I pursue.”

We know Laricks’s students are watching her today, and cheering her on in style. Read on to find out what is in store next for Laricks, who has us wanting to pair every single outfit with a unisex tie or androgynous jacket. (Oh-so-unisexy!)


On the first episode, you came out with your signature Collar, Stand + Ties, and the buyers were unsure of what you could bring to the table; how did you go from a brilliant accessory designer to designing that first dress? 

I told myself before ever agreeing to go on Fashion Star that I would stay true to my aesthetic and design as if I were designing in my Lower East Side apartment. The first challenge on Fashion Star was to design my “signature piece.”  My collar, stand + tie IS my signature piece. I am constantly inspired by menswear and my ties are the basis for all that I design. If you look closely at each design from week to week on Fashion Star, you will see a “shout out” to my ties– whether it’s in the shape of the pattern pieces or a little bit more literal– it’s there.

Where did the idea of that first dress come from? Was it something you always imagined designing?

The dress I designed on the second episode was far from the first dress I have ever designed. When I graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco in 2008, I showed a small collection in Bryant Park– complete with dresses, pants, etc. I started designing accessories because they were what I could afford to produce on my own. In walks the Fashion Star opportunity… and the rest is history. I have always wished for the opportunity to design cost/worry free and Fashion Star was that opportunity. As I watch what I was able to create in a very limited amount of time on Fashion Star, it makes me extremely excited for the future.

Saks Fifth Avenue has bought your designs five times now; how does it feel to have one of the most high-end reputable department stores on Fifth Avenue be such a supporter of your designs?

Just reading your question gave me the chills.  I have always admired the designers that hang in Saks Fifth Avenue– Yohji Yamamoto, YSL, Marc Jacobs– the list goes on. I know in my heart that I am a high-end designer because I have such a love for gorgeous fabrics, elegant design and intelligent cut/drape. I also have a deep admiration for the artistry that is displayed in garments sold in Saks Fifth Avenue. To be counted amongst those artists is almost more than I can handle. I am humbled and honored.

By far, you are certainly one of the most successful (if not the most successful!) designer on FASHION STAR right now; what do you think is the most important quality to have when going through each week and facing the judges and buyers?

Without question, I believe that a confidence deep down inside about what I represent and how it is conveyed in my designs got me through from week to week. Though I may appear emotional on stage, what you see is my long time dream coming true. I just couldn’t hold back the tears.

In hindsight, I was certainly a sponge during my time on Fashion Star. I tried to soak in each bit of expertise I was so fortunate to receive from both the buyers and the mentors.

Your designs are certainly one-of-a-kind, original and innovative; did you ever doubt that people would not like your creations? What made you move past any doubts or fears you may have had?

I know that my design aesthetic is not for everyone . But, I do not aim to design for everyone. I want my customer to feel like she is getting something different, something special– a garment that really stands for something unique. I feel that dressing is an important way to express ourselves and we are all unique. I certainly don’t want to look like four or five other people on the train each morning and I think my customer wants to stand apart from the crowd as well. I feel like it’s my job as a designer to give her those garments, and give her that confidence. If I had any doubts or fears going into the show, they quickly faded away when I realized the powerful platform I had to reach “my girls.” 

We saw on your FB Page that tomorrow’s episode will give you the unique opportunity to define your brand! Can you give us three words that describe your brand best? 

Masculine meets Feminine, Intelligent + Innovative, Unique (I realize that’s more than three, but I couldn’t resist!)

After FASHION STAR is over, what do you plan on doing with the Kara Laricks brand? What is the next step for you that we can look forward to?

My dreams continue to come true day-by-day… my first order of business will be to try to make available all of the garments that were not purchased on Fashion Star that so many women want! I see big things in the future and promise to keep you posted.

So, who was your favorite judge on FASHION STAR? 

John Varvatos’s climb to success, knowledge of design and embodiment of his brand was incredibly inspiring. Jessica has one of the warmest, most encouraging hearts I know. Nicole has that effortlessly cool air about her, and was so concise and clear in her critique.  Caprice from Macy’s is so articulate and passionate, and Nikki is such a strong advocate for her H&M customer. But Terron, sweet Terron, I called him “The Godfather.” His confidence in my vision was simply empowering.

What is the one valuable lesson you’ve learned from being on FASHION STAR week by week?

As for one valuable lesson– I learned that believing in your vision is vital. If you believe, others will too. Again, simply empowering.

Stay in-the-know: First Members of the CFDA, Fashion in the 1940s

During the time of World War II, when Paris was off limits and fabrics were rationed like food, American designers had to turn deprivation into inspiration. 

The first members of the CFDA were the best and most important designers from 1940-1945, and included Norman Norell, Pauline Trigere, Ceil Chapman, and Jo Copeland. With the CFDA’s 50th year Anniversary and the 2012 CFDA Fashion Awards coming up in June, it’s important to remember the first designers who became a part of the CFDA, building its foundation. 

Norman Norell was born in 1900, in Indiana. Norell studied fashion design at Pratt Institute. At 22 years old, he joined the Paramount Pictures studio in New York and designed clothing for stars in silent films. He also designed costumes for Broadway. Norell was known for his elegant suits and tailored silhouettes. In 1943, he won a Coty Fashion Award. Later, Norman started teaching at Pratt Institute and teamed up with Anthony Traina to form the fashion company, Traina-Norrell. Traina looked after the business side, and Norell the fashion side. By 1944, Norell launched chemise dresses, evening dresses, fur coats, sequined evening sheaths, fur slacks and empire-line dresses. 


Pauline Trigere was a French born American fashion designer, in 1909. She was known for her crisp, tailored cuts and innovative ideas. Trigere was able to operate a sewing machine by age ten, while assisting her mother, who was a dressmaker. After leaving school, she was employed as a trainee cutter to Martial et Armand in the Place Vendome, Paris. There, she met Adele Simpson, who told her about New York fashion. She moved to New York at 25 years old and started working for Hattie Carnegie. In 1942, she decided to open her own fashion house, which her brother ran for her. She designed her first line of 12 dresses and by 1945 she was a respected New York label. In 1952, she received her first Coty Fashion Award, and then started to design jewelry to accompany her clothing. She dressed many high-profile women such as the Duchess of Windsor and actress, Claudette Colbert. She also designed some of Patricia Neal’s wardrobe in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Today, Trigere’s dresses and jewelry are highly sought-after and have been worn by Winona Ryder


Ceil Chapman was born in 1912, and was an American fashion designer who worked in NYC from the 1940s to the 1960s. She was known for her glamorous cocktail and party dresses, and for dressing high-profile individuals such as Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Aretha Franklin. The Staten Island Historical Society has a Ceil Chapman evening gown with a bodice of multicolored pastel lace, and a long full skirt of powder-pink tulle. Several of Chapman’s collections are at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including a 1948 wedding dress, and cocktail dresses from the 1950s. Chapman was among those who succeeded in adapting Christian Dior’s ”New Look” for ready-to-wear affordable cocktail dresses. Chapman worked at 530 Seventh Avenue, in the Garment District, in the 1950s. Chapman was, reportedly, Marilyn Monroe’s favorite fashion designer. It is said, that Chapman had no formal design training, but learned her way through working in the industry. 


Jo Copeland was a well-known ready-to-wear designer, who shared a label with Pattullo. In the 1920s, Copeland started drawing fashion sketches and selling them to Pattullo Modes. After working there for several years, she quit and started her own business, but four years later went back to Pattullo. By 1938, she was a partner there. Her silhouettes were very feminine, but always innovative, which made them highly sought-after and copied. Rather than using toils, she designed her clothing directly on a figure. Copeland’s daughter, Lois Gould, wrote a memoir about the truthful, critical and sometimes cruel upbringings of her childhood, with Copeland as a mother. Gould writes about her mother, “Jo Copeland would create the classic tailored daytime ensemble that could turn into a sparkling dinner dress with the flick of a collarless jacket.” Interested in learning more about Copeland, find Gould’s book here.


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