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

HH Spotlight: Rebecca Lanman, a tailored look

"Design is not the fabulous side of the fashion industry that people expect," aspiring designer, Rebecca Lanman, admits. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Lanman came to New York almost two years ago to study fashion design at Parsons The New School for Design. She shares a top-floor, converted two-bedroom apartment with her roommate, “We like to say we live in the penthouse to make it sound glamorous but realistically it’s a very old, 5th floor walk up, with no AC. It gets a bit sticky in the summer but after all the effort to find it in the midst of finals, I love it!” she admits.

When we asked Lanman why she chose fashion design to develop a career, she said, “I love the idea that by simply looking at someone you can tell what they might be like, what their interests are, and what their dislikes may be. Fashion is culture, identity, history, and art all in one. It is an incredible and exciting thing because it is something that every person in the world shares.”

When we spoke to this up-and-coming designer at the Fusion Fashion Show last February, we knew she was a standout amongst her competition, as her designs resembled much attention to detail, elegance, and potential for mass market interest. “It was the first time I have been able to showcase my work and it was an incredible thing to be a part of,” Lanman says, “There are always a few points every semester when I have not slept in a good 36 hours and still have to go home to do work after class. The workload can be a bit daunting at times and keeping the balance between friends, work and sleep seems to disappear, but in the end when the projects are finished, it’s always worth it. I think designers are all secret adrenaline junkies.”

What was the story behind your designs at Fusion?

My inspirations for Fusion were gothic cathedrals and costume designers from the early 1900s. I love the elegance of the 1910s and 1920s; people had less clothes then but what they had was made with beautiful fabrics and tailored to perfection. My collection was made mainly out of silks, such as crepe de chine, georgette, and chiffon. My fabrics were bought almost entirely from Mood Designer Fabrics, which was the store that sponsored Fusion. I used neutral colors, as well as an olive and burgundy. I like to use complementary colors in their less saturated form to create a nice harmony between my pieces. I tend to stick to earth tones and stay away from harsh colors. 

How did it feel to show your designs on the Fusion stage?

Fusion was an incredible opportunity. I have never felt so much excitement, anxiety, fear, chaos, and pride at the same time. 

What kind of woman do you design for?

I design very much for myself. I want to create garments that I would wear and find beautiful, in hopes others will feel the same. I design with clean lines and flattering cuts; the attention is in the detail. I want the woman who wears my clothes to feel comfortable, confident, and radiantly beautiful. I’m a very adventurous person and believe people should be able to move freely in clothes.

How important do you think wear-ability is in fashion design?

It is easy, as the fashion designer, to get caught up in the statement the look should make, however it’s important to remember that there will be a person to wear the garment. In my designs, whether evening or ready-to-wear, I aim for a hint of the twenties’ swanky elegance, mixed with modern cuts, and always something that is wearable. Though I believe there is a place for fashion that has a message, and is not wearable, I tend not to design that way. 

Tell us one important thing you’ve learned thus far, as a Fashion Design Major at Parsons.

Design is not the fabulous side of the fashion industry that people expect. I knew that when choosing to become a fashion designer that I would be in a very intense, competitive field, however, I did not realize how much work designers truly have. In school students are trained to be the seamstress, pattern maker, designer, publicist, technical team, producer, and digital designer; even after graduation fashion designers are generally overworked and underpaid. 

What piece of advice have you been told in the past that has really helped you?

In the first week of orientation during my foundation year, one of the speakers got up on stage and told us that “in the next four years you will be busy, overworked, and exhausted, however it will bring you joy because you are artists and you will be doing what you love.” This statement has stuck with me and I think of it often because it is so true. I recently came to the realization that assistant designers and starting teachers have about the same salaries, however teachers get three months off a year. Despite the money, I still consider myself lucky and love my career path because I will be one of the people that can say I enjoy my work.

What is your goal after you graduate?

After graduation I hope to get a job as an assistant designer. I want to work at a few different companies, some with aesthetics similar to mine, and hopefully some that are very different. After learning from other companies I want to start my own line, here in New York.  

Describe you own personal style.

I like the idea that a person can change their style. The MOMA had a quote by Andy Warhol about a year ago that read, “How can you say one style is better than another? You ought to be able to be an Abstract Expressionist next week, or a Pop artist, or a realist, without feeling you’ve given up something.” I think that would be so great, to be able to change styles. And I think that’s what’s going to happen. I think it’s a wonderful idea because I believe people do this. I sometimes dress very classic, and other times very edgy and modern. Some of my favorite brands are Helmut Lang and Chloe, which have two completely different aesthetics, and if I had the money for them my closet would be stocked with both!

Favorite places to shop in NYC?

My favorite places to shop in NYC are Top Shop, Henri Bendel, and the small shops west of Bowery in SoHo. I am also in love with the The Hat Shop on Thompson Street– amazing hats for every occasion, many from local milliners, and a very inspiring owner.

Favorite designers?   

I am very fond of Rick Owens, Helmut Lang and Michael and Nicole Colovos (who now designs for Helmut Lang), Phoebe Philo for Celine (love the handbags), and Stella McCartney for nice tailored jackets; Marchesa and Eli Saab for eveningwear, and Stacey Bendet of Alice and Olivia for fun contemporary dresses. 

Are you working on another collection now?  

I am constantly designing and creating looks for class, and would love to create another collection if the opportunity to show came again. For now, I am making dresses for people privately and focusing on school. I am studying abroad in Milan for the fall, however hopefully when I return I will find another show to be a part of. The Senior Showcase at Parsons is another opportunity to showcase my designs for my final semester.  

See more stories like this, here

Haley Newman, aspiring fashion designer at Parsons, has the eye for expert patterns and has the structural knowledge to be a designer of our future. Keep your eye out for her!

See her exclusive interview here

See Haley Newman in the Fusion Fashion Show here

HH Spotlight: Haley Newman, a look into our future in fashion

                                  

Keep your look out for Haley Newmanaspiring fashion designer, studying at Parsons The New School for Design, who showed off her space-age collection at Fusion last month. Growing up in Rochester, New York, Newman had her sights set on Manhattan for a while, “The charisma of New York City instantly captured my heart the second upon visiting for the first time– stepping foot out of Penn Station and seeing a world so different and so full of energy, drive, and more alive than ever, it was an intuitive and destined feeling of belonging.”

Already having spent time behind the scenes at Vogue, CFDA, and Jill Stuart, working as an intern and graphic designer, Newman knows how to build an impressive resume. “It has definitely been a challenging experience balancing schoolwork, internships, and Fusion at once,” she admits.

But, it seems as though those challenges have motivated Newman’s energy in design, as she explains, “I had absolutely no background in technical sewing upon being accepted into Fusion. As the youngest in my class and in the competition, the high expectations from the coordinators and judges of executing fully realized garments, was intimidating. The lack of technical experience in progressing concepts into the third dimension has honestly been life changing. The pressure and motivation forced me to detach myself from my comfort zone in illustration and digital media, and impacted me to focus and explore the traditional methods of creating the garments by hand.”

As we spoke to her backstage at Fusion, it was evident this rare talent (full of smiles) wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to fashion design. It took no time at all before Newman pulled out her design book, where fashion drawings adorned the pages, with strokes and colors that were vibrant. When we asked her, “Why fashion?” she explained, “It is a form of art that the body can wear and express. I can’t explain word for word why I am so passionate about it, it’s one of those things in life that I felt I was born to invest my vision in.”

What are some trials and tribulations you went through upon designing for Fusion?

At the time I was getting a lot of inspiration interning at the CFDA, where I learned much about contemporary fashion designers, who competed and worked their way up into the industry, coming from very different levels of experiences, connections, and point of views.

For Fusion, developing the concepts and color story of the collection was almost therapeutic, since the Parsons curriculum stresses the artistic aspect of designing, significantly more than disciplining the technical foreground of pattern-making, draping, exploring methods of fabrication, professional sewing, and so on.

You grow to appreciate high fashion design so much more, when you develop an architectural mindset of physically constructing a garment, since you are essentially building a space for the human body to comfortably wear.

You have to have a lot patience and passion for what you are doing, or you won’t survive, even when your momentum lulls.

When designing your collection for Fusion, what was the first thing that came to mind?

COLOR, COLOR, COLOR AND MORE COLOR.

How did it feel to have your designs walk the runway at Fusion, where other big designers have shown before too?

I felt emotionally in shock at the time, to even consider accepting that all the endless nights working, days tracing the streets of the garment district, and trials and errors of executing my first collection, was actually over.

To see my designs walk the runway that Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Chris Benz, etc. have shown their collections on, it was an honorable experience and I am forever grateful.

Tell us about your designs from Fusion. What material did you use and where do you get your material? 

The collection aesthetic investigates the complexities and simplicities of graphic, geometric shapes and how they visually and physically interact with the anatomic structure of the human figure. In each of the garments, I attempted to create contrasting illusions within the simple structure of the silhouette, by simplifying the arrangement of positive and negative spaces with dynamic hues of color and illustrative seam lines, to create an abstract yet organic look and feel to them.

Accessories were inspired by my nostalgia of the futuristic vibe of the 1960s Space Age; I included circular sunglasses, geometric turquoise gloves, and 5 inch white platform wedges for the models to wear and electrify the runway.

I had a low budget to execute the collection so I made my way sifting through local fabric stores in the garment district on the dark and sketchy side of Times Square. At the time, since I was still in the fundamental stages of learning how to sew, I knew I would make several mistakes, so I invested in yards of thick and forgiving wools, silks, and cotton textiles.

How did you choose your color palette?

The color palette was largely influenced by principles of color theory and personal methods of painting; in a matter of contradictory hues, expressive brush strokes, composed in a simplified direction. In the collection there are contrasting hues of saturated red, coral, neon yellow, turquoise, and white with camel and sand tones to neutralize the color blocking rebellion; they were composed in tight fitted, simple silhouetted vests, jackets, dresses and skirts.

What influenced your designs?

Tracing back to art movement inspirations, humanity’s contributions to Analytic and Synthetic Cubism, Fauvism, the Bauhaus Movement as well as Abstract Expressionism has heavily influenced the compositional arrangement and palette of the collection, which symbolize and express an individual who is fearless to take risks.

In a way I view the concept of the collection to be a personal narrative of my inner state of mind at the time– nostalgic for the past and future simultaneously while being trapped in the present. My intention is for the collection as a whole, to be both visually appealing, wearable, and meaningful in its design aesthetic. I strive to embark upon challenges, move forward, and most importantly innovate.

How important do you think wearability is in fashion, as apposed to something that can look good on a runway?

I believe, in order to be a strong and successful designer, you have to innovate clothing in a way that, firstly, is genuine to yourself, and your instinct of moving fashion forward. The execution is equally as important as the integrity of the signature concept. The challenge of creating an identity and legacy within your work is to compose it in a way that people can functionally wear and artistically embrace, that captures and creates a cultural moment in time; it completes the process of it all.

There are countless looks casted down the runways of New York, London, Milan, and Paris that may look good, but are not functional and practical to be worn in reality. It undoubtedly is respected as an ephemeral moment of artistic expression, emoting the designer’s inner realm of consciousness, which is wonderful to stimulate various clothing and accessory trends for the season, but I feel as if they are fleeting, a flash in the pan, and filter through the business side of the industry like clock-work.

If you had to choose one thing you’ve learned so far as a Fashion Design Major at Parsons, what would it be?

Manipulating patterns has been a really influential skill in the design process of progressing into the third dimension.

What is your #1 goal in fashion design, after you graduate?

To become an established, influential and innovative designer in New York.However, to be practical, I’d like to work my way up, travel abroad to Asia and Europe to observe and develop inspirations, and learn strategies to start a secure business in the modern economy.

Outside of strictly designing fashion, I have a very strong interest working in magazine publications, and hope to one day, in further phase of this life, invest my vision to the industry as an Editor and/or Stylist.

Describe your own personal style.

My personal style is cozy and comfortable, geek chic. From an early age I’ve always had a bobbed haircut (sometimes bleached or dyed crazy colors) but this year it’s natural, with semi-blunt bangs. I like to wear bold trench coats, particularly red, with vintage heavy knit sweaters, accessorized with leggings, knee-length leather boots, circular sunglasses, most of the time equipped with a Grande Starbucks Americano, and a large laptop case to carry my three “children”: sketchbook, WACOM tablet, and MacBook.

(Photo: the “kids”)

Where is your favorite place to shop in NYC?

I always get really excited to buy new Micron .005mm and .01mm ink pens from Utrecht. You will always find me drawing, designing, and productively procrastinating wherever I go. You will also catch me drooling over Chanel suits in SoHo when I’m not interning or in class.

Who is your favorite designer?

Through legacy, I have the most respect for Coco Chanel since her work impacted, empowered, and revolutionized the modern woman. 

Are you working on another collection? If so, what will it look like?

Right now I am developing fabrications for my alter-ego collection for Integrated Studio. The collection is inspired by traits of Marchesa and Oscar de la Renta, with many intricate embellishments and flowing, feminized structures.

Material wise, while staying loyal to my narrative spectrum of colors, I am deeply inspired by gradient toned silk organza in synthesis with layers of pure and neutral tones of wool crepe, accessorized for outerwear with tones of neon lambskin leather.

For prints and textiles, I scanned lace manipulations and vectorized them into patterns in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which may be used to highlight the simpler garments. The way the silk organza falls and reflects light in combination of the illusion of vector lace prints and color blocking with the violent, opaque neons, sets a fire within me to develop new methods of draping and tailoring. I am extremely excited to explore the process.

Overall, the collection is going to be much more emotionally driven, sophisticated and dream-like, while still carrying subtle traits of vibrant colors in the palette and synthesis of menswear inspired vests, jackets, and accessories in the compositional narrative of croquis.

The alter-ego collection currently consists of twelve looks, and there is much more work ahead of me to develop it as a whole, but I am focused and very eager to learn from this new process of designing. This is only the beginning.

(Photo: Alter-ego design with vector lace)

See an exclusive video when we talked with Haley Newman backstage, here.

Introducing Irma Elezovic: Our Street Chic, PR Girl

Born in Bosnia, a refugee in Germany, raised in Pennsylvania, and a transplant to NYC, Irma Elezovic, has a style that stands out in our dear city… and in our small office. With her perfect eyeliner, long jet-black hair, and her love for all things black in fashion, Irma is certainly a HerHattan girl worth spotlighting.

Street chic, herself, it is obvious how she got her role as "Street Chic" blogger for HerHattan NYC. But, Irma’s PR experience makes her work essential here, working constantly on making contacts in the fashion world and prepping our Press Releases for our launch.

Lunching with Daphne Guinness, Irma knows how to hang with the best of the fashion world. Not to mention, the way she walked the Fusion stage this past Sunday, modeling designs from Charles Haddad, Avery Vaughn and Yunan Wang.  

What was your experience like in Bosnia?

I was born in Bosnia but my family moved out of Bosnia when I was only nine months, because a war broke out. We ended up moving to Germany and we lived there for six years as refugees. I was very young, so I don’t remember much, but I attended 1st grade there. I still keep in contact with my best friend from 1st grade. After the war in Bosnia, we had to leave Germany so we moved to Houston, Texas because my aunt was living there. My parents didn’t want to move back to Bosnia because everything was destroyed and they felt my sister and I would have a better future in America. We lived in Houston for a year before finally moving to a small town in Pennsylvania. That’s where I basically grew up. However, I go back to Bosnia every summer and visit family, so I never lost my true heritage. 

 What brought you to NYC? 

I have always been obsessed with fashion and NYC in general. It was my dream to live in NYC from a very young age. In 10th grade, I told my guidance counselor that the only thing I was interested in was fashion, and asked her what I should do. She actually was the one who told me about FIT. I didn’t think it was possible at first because my parents are very strict and traditional. They wanted me to go to college at the local University. It took a year of persuading my dad before he finally let me move to NYC.

What are you studying at FIT?

I received my Associate degree (AAS) in Fashion Merchandising Management and I am currently studying Advertising and Marketing Communications for my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Gothic chic. I love wearing a lot of black so my style is very dark and edgy. However, I’m obsessed with shoes and I have endless amounts of extremely colorful shoes.

Who is your favorite designer?

Alexander McQueen is my foremost favorite designer, but I love Riccardo Tisci and Jean Paul Gaultier as well. 

Tell us about modeling in the Fusion Fashion Show recently. What did you wear? 

This was actually my second year modeling for the Fusion Fashion Show.  It is such a great experience and I love meeting so many talented students. I wore lingerie for FIT designer, Avery Vaughn. Her collection was called “Bacteremia” and it was inspired by the spread of bacteria in the bloodstream. I got to wear these nude sleeves with red sparkles, which were supposed to look like veins. I was obsessed with it!

Another FIT designer, I had the pleasure of modeling for, was my good friend, Charles Haddad. His collection, “Requiem for Beirut,” was inspired by the war that broke out in Lebanon. He witnessed things that nobody should have to see. I wore a molded leather jacket with a black and gold chiffon skirt, and a black widow’s veil. It gave me goose bumps to wear!

Another talented designer I modeled for was Yunan Wang who is a Parsons student. Her collection was called “Unfold” and it was inspired by origami art and the process of folding. I wore high-wasted capri pants with a tucked-in collared origami shirt. I loved it so much that I asked her if I could borrow it sometime!

What was the vibe like backstage?

The vibe backstage was amazing! It was so crazy and hectic. Models were running around, stripping down from one designer’s clothes to the next. The team work was out-of-this-world; both schools came together and really helped each other out. 

What is your must-have fashion piece?

I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but I love rings. Sometimes I’ll wear rings on every finger– definitely my must-have fashion piece, as well as extremely high heels. 

Get Irma’s look:

Jacket: H&M

Cropped Shirt and Collared Shirt: Boutique in Soho

Shorts: Forever 21

Belt: H&M

Boots: Jeffrey Campbell

See more HH Spotlight stories here

2012 Fusion Fashion Show: FIT vs. Parsons

Go to our Youtube Channel to get a better view, see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KufRsPSNsRg

Fusion Fashion Show 2012: Parsons vs. FIT

Sunday night, we had the privilege of front row seats at the 12th Annual Fusion Fashion Show, where the nation’s best two fashion schools, Parsons The New School for Design and The Fashion Institute of Technology, go head-to-head presenting up-and-coming designers and their collections

The Fusion stage has been the platform for designer names in the past, such as Alexander Wang, Chris Benz, and Prabal Gurung. Young designers (starting at the age of just 18), graced the runway with looks that ranged from dark and dreamy, cute and sexy, whimsical, over-the-top, chic and structured. Every design on the runway was certainly original.

From FIT, Rebecca Rivera, presented a “Country Quilts” collection, consisting of textures and prints that resembled handmade quilts. We were entranched with her cute ensembles of patterned dresses.

Contrasting Rivera’s modest looks, designer, Charles Haddad, had us wondering how in the world he did what he did. With a “Requiem for Beirut” collection, Haddad, utilized mystery and symbolism, as a long black dress filled the runway, with intertwined red rope, that seemed to resemble blood. Haddad explains in an interview with Fusion, “I consider myself a painter and a sculptor, even though I have the knowledge to do neither; the difference is that my medium of choice is fabric.” Haddad’s Requiem collection, is one that symbolizes his memories of war and demolition that he witnessed during a trip to Lebanon, where he was raised. 

Best Designer for Parsons went to Julian Archer (whom of which we tweeted about in pure excitement), as Archer’s dresses certainly stole the show. Flowing gracefully, but ever-so-effortlessly down the runway, each design was that of one solid color with bundles of elegant fabric. When we asked Archer who he designs his clothing for, he said, “Interesting, simple, modest women, wearing beautiful clothes differently.”

It was a close call, but Parsons was announced for the Best Overall School Award.

Here are some other looks we LOVED:

From Parsons, Sahar Fotouhi’s mini shorts with the sheer overlay skirt, was a style we will be on the lookout for– certainly a flattering and sexy element to a simple skirt.  

Rebecca Lanman, from Parsons, also stood out amongst her competition (in our opinions), as we fell in love with her "Angelina Jolie" leg-popping silk dress and a fabulous rendition of a half pant, half dress ensemble– two looks we want to wear all over NYC.

Carteris Travanti, stole our attention with his dual suit– half mini shorts, half pant leg with an asymmetrical overlay. The Hampton’s definitely stole our thoughts, as we imagined laying on the sand in the spring, in this catchy style. 

When it came to over-the-top, and out-of-the-box, we thought Yueping Wang “went there.” A spiked corset with a peekaboo skirt, certainly said “daring and original,” and Wang followed that look with a collared halter corset and slit skirt that certainly had us wondering what it would look like on us. Two looks we really wanted to try on.