This week, we’ve been talking to the three winning designers of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award, exploring various fashion ideas from just hanging out with friends with Timo Weiland to the extremes of nature and knitwear with DEGEN.
All of these designers have been wonderful, but one of them captured our hearts right off the bat with her traditional silhouettes and re-interpreted vintage prints: Jordana Warmflash of NOVIS.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve designed?
There are different aspects to each piece that I love. Right now I’m really into this blue coat that’s going to come out in fall 2014. It’s fairly simple but the fit is amazing…it’s a great piece.
Where does the name NOVIS come from?
Well, my name is Jordana Warmflash, so people weren’t really keen on using it (though I love it!). NOVIS is my dad’s mother’s maiden name. I wanted to use it to pay homage to her.
How will the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award affect your business?
The grant given to us goes toward our presentation during New York Fashion Week. Presentation costs are pretty expensive, especially for a designer just starting out, so this help is great.
And while the financial aspect is definitely helpful, there’s a prestige factor. We’re now in the company of designers like Alexander Wang, Zac Posen, Peter Som…that definitely gives more legitimacy to a designer.
What is the inspiration behind this season’s collection?
The art of Paul Klee has been a major influence…the earthy tones in this collection and in the prints are inspired by his work and developed with my assistant. It’s a continuation of classic silhouettes with interesting textures and details.
What is your background in fashion?
I grew up in New York and took classes at FIT on the weekends in high school, but I didn’t want to go there or to Parsons for college because I grew up here. So I went to Washington University in St. Louis, which has a great program. I interned with Zac Posen and Peter Som, designed for Alice + Olivia and Jay Godfrey, but I really wanted to do my own thing.
What did you learn from working with such great designers?
You learn about a lot of different aspects of the industry, and I picked up different lessons on business and the fashion world at each place I worked. I think the main thing is that you don’t learn about working with a factory when you’re in school, and that’s why you need to work for other people first. Working with vendors and knowing the vendors and building relationships with the vendors – if you don’t know them, they don’t want to work with you. You need to build those relationships before going out on your own.
How would you describe NOVIS?
NOVIS is a womenswear collection with traditional, flattering silhouettes, modernized with interesting fabrics and textures. Fabric is a big passion of mine, I think it’s important and what sets a designer apart.
Also, I feel like there are a lot of men designing for women right now, and we’re not all seven-foot-tall sticks. I tend to design to flatter a woman’s body.
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to take inspiration from things that are concrete and visual, but not fashion. Art and architecture are two things I love and are inspired by. The Spring 2013 collection was inspired by a lot of great design – Eames, Herman Miller – and there’s an original, hand-drawn cityscape print in the Fall 2013 collection that was inspired by Richard Avedon in Paris. The first thing I think about when I think of Paris is the buildings.
What makes the perfect dress?
The proper fit, a great fabric, and a special something that makes a woman feel amazing.
Why be based in NYC?
There is a control factor, but there’s also a big movement to save the garment center in New York City. The industry was huge here and we’re trying to bring it back by having pieces made in New York.
I’m also hands-on. I go to my factory at least three or four times a week…I’m happiest when I’m there. It’s a partnership. If the factory were overseas, I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t be hands-on. It would really drive me crazy.
Where do you want to be in five years?
Ultimately, I’d like to grow the business into a lifestyle brand – one that includes more categories like bags, jewelry, maybe even home decor. When that happens…I’m not sure. I see brands that blow up really quickly, and I’m hesitant to go in that direction. Slow and steady growth is smart. You look at brands that don’t open a store until they’re ten years old, and then you see brands that open ten retail stores after two years. I want to grow the brand but I want the growth to be steady and organic.
The entire presentation was an experience as lovely as Jordana’s designs. Guests, editors, stylists and celebrities who attended all enjoyed Ecco Domani Merlot & Pinot Grigio served throughout the presentation to an orchestra of live music.
Where have we seen your dresses?
We’ve done well with celebs. We often dress Morgan Saylor (who plays Dana Brody on Homeland), and Hilary Rhoda and Keke Palmer have worn our pieces. I think my dream though is to dress Michelle Obama.