Southern Chic Style
- 5 Valentine’s Hints for Your Honey -
Know that your guy is the type who waits until the last minute and needs a few ideas when it comes to gifts? You can help him out with options he can get before your Valentine’s Day dinner tomorrow locally in Houston or order online to give you later. Each is something special from under $100 to $350 to fit his budget. Send him the link to Southern Chic Style and you know you’ll get an amazing something tomorrow :)
- Lilahgabriel Heart Necklace: available in a few different colors as well as in lips, this pendant from a local jewelry designer is a piece you can wear year round reminding you how much he loves you. Available at SAM & lilli in West Ave - 2800 Kirby Drive, Suite A-133
- SHY by Sydney Evan Love Pendant Bezel Diamond Necklace: a necklace that says “I Love You” everyday… literally. And, the diamond touch adds a little sparkle for your Valentine’s Day. Available online or at Neiman Marcus $125
- Misela Istanbul Pochette: the line of canvas totes and other accessories has become a big hit with celebrities and other style seekers like you and I. The pochette is Valentine divine with touches of red. Available online or the tote at Atrium Ready to Wear - 2040 West Gray St., Suite 120. Pochette $145 and Tote $475
- Roni Blanshay Pave Crystal Ring: Swarovski crystals on a gold backing create a ring you’ll love to wear. Your love can’t go wrong with jewelry that sparkles! Available online or at TOOTSIES - 2601 WestheimerRd., #C100 - $350
- Be The Light New York Haitan Hibiscus Breeze Candle: the incredible collection of candles and accessories from supermodel Petra Nemcova is the perfect Valentine’s gift for the girl who loves to relax with candlelight or just enjoys beautiful scents. And, your beau will enjoy the pleasant travel inspired scents, too! Available online or at Cakewalk Style Shop - (new address) 3201 Westheimer - $98

- 5 Valentine’s Hints for Your Honey -

Know that your guy is the type who waits until the last minute and needs a few ideas when it comes to gifts? You can help him out with options he can get before your Valentine’s Day dinner tomorrow locally in Houston or order online to give you later. Each is something special from under $100 to $350 to fit his budget. Send him the link to Southern Chic Style and you know you’ll get an amazing something tomorrow :)

- Lilahgabriel Heart Necklace: available in a few different colors as well as in lips, this pendant from a local jewelry designer is a piece you can wear year round reminding you how much he loves you. Available at SAM & lilli in West Ave - 2800 Kirby Drive, Suite A-133

SHY by Sydney Evan Love Pendant Bezel Diamond Necklace: a necklace that says “I Love You” everyday… literally. And, the diamond touch adds a little sparkle for your Valentine’s Day. Available online or at Neiman Marcus $125

- Misela Istanbul Pochette: the line of canvas totes and other accessories has become a big hit with celebrities and other style seekers like you and I. The pochette is Valentine divine with touches of red. Available online or the tote at Atrium Ready to Wear - 2040 West Gray St., Suite 120. Pochette $145 and Tote $475

- Roni Blanshay Pave Crystal Ring: Swarovski crystals on a gold backing create a ring you’ll love to wear. Your love can’t go wrong with jewelry that sparkles! Available online or at TOOTSIES - 2601 WestheimerRd., #C100 - $350

- Be The Light New York Haitan Hibiscus Breeze Candle: the incredible collection of candles and accessories from supermodel Petra Nemcova is the perfect Valentine’s gift for the girl who loves to relax with candlelight or just enjoys beautiful scents. And, your beau will enjoy the pleasant travel inspired scents, too! Available online or at Cakewalk Style Shop - (new address) 3201 Westheimer - $98

- Nicole Miller: Gorgeously Dressing Women Since the 80s -


Designer Nicole Miller is a staple in American fashion cranking out garments women love year after year. TOOTSIES Houston brought the Texas born designer in for a trunk show of her Fall 2013 collection and to be a part of the Women of Wardrobe Soiree this year! Miller hadn’t been to Houston in over 10 years, so it was quite a treat :) With her Fall Collection in tow at TOOTSIES, Nicole Miller spent some Q&A time with me & I was able to play dress up in a few of my Nicole Miller favorites (in the photos above) with beautiful cutouts and sheers, leather, and feminine details.

Sitting down with Nicole Miller (pictured with me in her Fall ‘rocker chic’ and I in one of her peplum dresses) who was born in Fort Worth, Texas but raised in Massachusetts, the designer credits much of her success to her perseverance and truly being a “hands on” designer. Born to a Parisienne mother and an American father with an “engineer-like mind,” Miller explained that as a child her father taught her Morse code. Her technical abilities, which have benefited the designer in garment making and construction, stem from her father’s influence.

The self-proclaimed “fabric junkie” (believe it or not) never owned a Barbie! She always played with French dolls and was dressed by her mother in French influenced styles. Since becoming a designer, Nicole Miller has now partnered with Barbie for 2 different Nicole Miller designed Barbies - a fun opportunity to channel your inner child with the iconic doll as an adult!

When I asked who the woman is that she designs for, Nicole Miller quickly responded “all women!” This is evident to us all by the draping Miller has become known for - a product of her Parisienne training in draping fabric and classical couture. We’ve come to know the designer for her signature fabric manipulation. The curve hugging ruching happened by accident, according to Miller. She was working on a dress and had an idea to do an asymmetrical pleat… figured out the style was so flattering, like her dress here

With a design philosophy of “Break every rule,” Miller shared that she designed her own wedding dress in the 90s using black and white checkered dresses from the ‘91 collection for bridesmaids. Nicole Miller went on to say, “I always say ‘I’ll never do that,’ then I do!” - proving we’ll continue to see Nicole Miller designs that push the envelope from ordinary including the good girl/bad girl influences seen in her collections.

An American designer collection withstanding decades of changing fashion, Nicole Miller has expanded to bridal, shoes, sunglasses… even headphones. Shop all of the looks seen above at TOOTSIES as well as the rest of Nicole Miller’s Fall Collection - I could see each and every piece in my closet and am getting the leggings ASAP!

Thanks to TOOTSIES for the opportunity to spend time with Nicole Miller and to Nicole Miller and her fab team who were incredible between interviews, the trunk show, and a packed WOW Soiree!

Starts tomorrow at TOOTSIES Houston! Don’t miss the deals on brands you love.

Starts tomorrow at TOOTSIES Houston! Don’t miss the deals on brands you love.

- TOOTSIES Spring Shopping Soiree -

What a wonderful experience hosting the TOOTSIES Spring Shopping Soiree alongside friends/bloggers Monica of Classy & Fabulous and Julie of From Prosecco to Plaid with handbag designer Cornelia Guest. With an amazing crowd of beautiful faces (thanks to ALL who came!), we enjoyed sweets from Rustika Cafe & Bakery, drinks from SlimRitas, a great Cornelia Guest clutch giveaway, and a beautiful sketch by Monica as a giveaway. The very talented Megan Batson photographed the event (including all pictures here).

The fashionable ladies shopped gorgeous cruelty-free handbags from Cornelia Guest with Cornelia’s sweet puppy Olive enjoying the festivities! A portion of the proceeds from the night benefited PupSquad which was perfect as Cornelia is an animal-lover along with the three of us hosting. In 2011, Marie Claire reported that Cornelia owned 9 dogs, a tortoise, and a donkey! And, did you know the vegan designer also has a vegan cookie line and a vegetarian cookbook? Cornelia’s handbag line TOOTSIES carries provides an alternative to the skins and leathers we all know so well. The bags range from clutches, to top handles, to shoulder bags, and wallets with soft vegan materials including woven designs that are perfect for accessorizing your summer wardrobe.

Monica, Julie, and myself each styled a manequin in TOOTSIES fashions representing our own style paired with a fab Cornelia Guest bag. It was exciting when the white top handle I paired with a patterned Nicole Miller frock sold right off the manequin! You can still find most of the styles you see pictured above at TOOTSIES for your summer style.

A lovely evening and it was truly a pleasure to see so many of your beautiful faces! Click each photo above to see it in its entirety and maybe your face is in the collage!

*Special thanks to Kuhl-Linscomb, Jawda and Jawda, TOOTSIES, and all who contributed amazing items to the swag bag!

Join me with Monica of Classy & Fabulous and Julie of From Prosecco to Plaid Wednesday at TOOTSIES Houston for sips (including delicious SlimRitas), sweets (from Rustika), and shopping! Cruelty-free handbag designer Cornelia Guest will be there to meet everyone along with her beautiful designs. Swag bags for the first 50 to arrive & be sure to enter our giveaway when you get there! Don’t forget to RSVP! See you there :)

Join me with Monica of Classy & Fabulous and Julie of From Prosecco to Plaid Wednesday at TOOTSIES Houston for sips (including delicious SlimRitas), sweets (from Rustika), and shopping! Cruelty-free handbag designer Cornelia Guest will be there to meet everyone along with her beautiful designs. Swag bags for the first 50 to arrive & be sure to enter our giveaway when you get there! Don’t forget to RSVP! See you there :)

- Jewelry Designer We Love: Vincent Peach -

If you’re a fan of the tv show “Nashville” then you’ve probably seen the verstile jewelry of designer Vincent Peach more times than you know! Pearls, leather, longhorn, water buffalo… the pieces aren’t just fit for a country star. They caught this southern girl’s attention at pearls! This post is looooong overdue as Vincent Peach is now back at TOOTSIES this week for a trunk show (4-5 months after I met him! My sincere apologies for the delay).

Vincent Peach has a cult following in Nashville including country music stars Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert. Sandra Bullock has been seen in Vincent Peach pieces, and he even styled CMT Insider host Katie Cook for the CMAs. How did Mr. Peach land the tv show “Nashville”? Well, the stylist from “Nashville” (also a VP customer) contacted Vincent to accessorize the stars for the show. And, you’ll most likely see at least one of his pieces every show.

All of Vincent Peach’s jewelry is handmade in Nashville, TN. He works with two different types of leather (kangaroo & the highest quality Greek leather) to create beautiful hand-woven leather necklaces and bracelets. The realtor turned antique exotic furniture store owner turned jewelry designer also uses different pearls from many amazing places (Indonesia, the Phillipines, Tahiti, The Marshall Islands) - tahitian pearls, south sea pearls, & fresh water pearls, as well as skins like python, alligator, & stingray, and even pave diamonds. Vincent and his business partner/girlfriend Michelle actually own the factory where the diamonds are set. The wooden link necklace above is made from wood and links created from the excess that must be removed from the horns of Texas longhorns. To speak to the quality of the jewelry wouldn’t be enough - you need to see and feel these pieces in person to fully appreciate the intricacy behind Mr. Peach’s creations. (And the presentation was amazing, too! Vintage Louis Vuitton luggage, light brown branches, and more.)

The best words used by Vincent himself to describe the pieces, “High end stuff you wear every day!” The pieces are timeless and created to be multifunctional. The woven leather and pearl necklace seen above on the bottom left can be worn a few ways - as a lanyard necklace like Vincent shows in the photo or as a shorter necklace and even wrapped around the wrist as a bracelet like he shows in the last picture on the bottom right or a belt.

A few other tidbits:

- Vincent uses ancient coins in pieces like the bracelet Michelle is wearing above to create the pieces in his Shipsmen Collection

- Michelle and Vincent met at Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas 6 shows from when I met the couple (Round Top holds 2 shows a year) and had been together for 4 Round Top shows

- Click here to see some celebs in Vincent Peach jewelry: http://vincentpeach.com/as-seen-on.html

*I truly enjoyed visiting with Vincent and Michelle and learning all about the boho chic collection!

So many outfit ideas swirling in my head with this great green Trina Turk skirt from a little TOOTSIES shopping this weekend! Work, play…. Pantone’s Color of the Year was all throughout Trina Turk’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection! (at www.southernchicstyle.tumblr.com)
Shop select TOOTSIES items online through FarFetch!

So many outfit ideas swirling in my head with this great green Trina Turk skirt from a little TOOTSIES shopping this weekend! Work, play…. Pantone’s Color of the Year was all throughout Trina Turk’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection! (at www.southernchicstyle.tumblr.com)

Shop select TOOTSIES items online through FarFetch!

Robert Rodriguez Trunk Show at TOOTSIES Houston this week

Robert Rodriguez Trunk Show at TOOTSIES Houston this week

- Theia’s Irish Designer Don O’Neill: Hard work, Passion, and Talent - 

Irish born and raised designer Don O’Neill is no stranger to hard work and determination. A humble upbringing to a father who worked in his father’s seaweed bath houses and living on the beach in west Ireland, Don discovered a fascination with fashion and beautiful garments early in his life.

Not knowing how he got there, one could assume the designer who has worked for Christian Lacroix in France, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Badgley Mischka to name a few easily stepped into the fashion world. I was able to sit down with Don (who has dressed celebrities like Carrie Underwood) during his Theia trunk show at Tootsies and learn all about what inspired his career, gorgeous collection (so elegant, chic, and pretty), and what made him the amazingly talented designer he is today. Read more to find how he came to say, “Christian Lacroix was one of the highlights of my career. Nothing that couldn’t be done with fabric & embroidery. Finest seamstresses, best embroiderers, etc.”

*I can’t tell you about Don without going through the details of his story. It’s worth the read :)

     Early on, Don was face-to-face with well-made clothing. His mother worked as a nanny in New York in the 60s for a very well off family who dressed her in fabulous clothes - from Bergdorf Goodman, etc. When she moved back to Ireland, she was the best dressed woman there! Seeing these wonderfully made pieces, Don developed an appreciation and fascination for the garments. “Mom was wearing these beautiful handmade couture suits.” tells Don.

     So, did that lead directly to fashion design? Nope!

    This Irishman loves to cook, and a stop at culinary school was part of his journey. Cooking is Don’s #1 hobby. The designer graduated high school at 15. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to do graphics or fashion at his art college and got home sick along with feeling as though he didn’t fit in (no drugs or alcohol for him). So, he dropped out of the art school. Don’s parents said he had to do something, and he liked to cook so he went to cooking school! After completing his training and was working as a chef, he saw a design competition in a national newspaper where second prize was a Michael Martel coat (one of the most well-known/top designers in Ireland at the time). Sweet Don wanted to win the coat for his sister! He ended up winning first prize, so he didn’t receive the coat. But, the win gave him full tuition to a fashion college (the Barbara Burke College of Fashion Design in Dublin). And, Don says his sister’s closet is even better now than it would have been with just the one Michael Martel coat :) The sister who works part time at a doctor’s office and is married to a dairy farmer now possesses a closet full of evening wear any of us would swoon over.

Fast forward - fashion design school, internships, big dreams, moves to Paris, works for Christian Lacroix - well, not quite the smooth transition from moving to Paris to Lacroix… a little stent at McDonalds is mixed in there.

     Just arriving in Paris with aspirations of becoming this great fashion designer, Don knew no one, had no money, and spoke no French. Apparently those things were pretty important being that he was in France, but he didn’t let that keep him down. Staying at a hostel, Don met and befriended a group of Americans who were living in Europe the year after graduating from college and working at different American restaurants. Part time work in Paris was almost non-existent, so Don was only able to find a part time job at McDonalds. The trained chef had to pay the rent, so McDonalds learning how to make a Big Mac from a kid was the best option. Learning the fast paced fast food biz in French (remember, he still spoke no French) was quite the adventure for the trained chef, but no one can say this guy lacks work ethic. He put in the work however he had to in order to make his dreams come true.

     Don finally finds a spot working with a costume designer in Paris and sets out to lie his way into interviews at some of the best fashion houses in Paris using his book of work from England. The fibs got the designer in front of just about everyone he tried including Dior. The woman Don met with at Dior said he should throw his book into the Seine River because it was too British, too safe. “That’s not what they did in France.” recalls Don. She suggested he redo his book then come back to see her. She recognized the talent. Fortunately, the costume designer he worked for set up the introduction for him at Christian Lacroix as she’d worked for Christian Lacroix. Dior and Lacroix both had Don work on projects to see if they wanted him. He was accepted into both houses to work on winter couture. When the woman at Dior heard he’d been offered the position with Lacroix, she said he HAD to go work for Christian (she’d discovered him) and that Lacroix had the finest couture house in France.

What an amazing turn of events in the aspiring designer from Ireland’s career!

     After his time in Paris with a robust resume of design experience, Don got his visa and came to the US. Working at Carmen Marc Valvo followed by Badgley Mischka led to his beautiful collection at Theia. Theia (thay-uh) is the Greek goddess of life - pronounced thee-uh means Aunt. So, “women would usually prefer to look like a goddess rather than their aunt, unless you have a goddess for an aunt!” Don shares. He didn’t want to use his own name at the start of the line (there’s an artist with his name as well as a CA company). I’ll say the name Theia embodies so much of what women want to be when wearing beautiful pieces, so the decision was a great one! Spring 2013 is inspired by the sunset/sky. Don elaborates that “Fall was very hard based on the goddess of war (Athena) and I wanted spring to be the juxtopasition of that - softer (colors, shapes), more femanine.” The designer’s brother (a movie producer) painted the sunset from the photo used in one of the fabrics in the line. The photo was taken on Christmas day at the beach on which they grew up. Simply stunning.

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A few fun facts from Don’s career:

Brush with an icon - while Don was at Givenchy interviewing in Paris, he was leaving down the grand staircase and there was a woman heading up the stairs with her head was down. He first noticed her really chic coat - chocolate brown, heavy cashmere, swingy - with matching opaque hose, crocodile shoes and crocodile purse under her arm, and hair pulled back in a chignon. Thinking how chic and completely French she was, he had to step aside on the stairs as they passed. The woman looked up and he realized it was AUDREY HEPBURN! She sweetly said with a little smile ”Bon jour!” to which Don in a state of shock as to who he was standing face-to-face with nervously responded “Bon jour.” As she kept going up the stairs, he stood there a little stunned thinking, “wow, that was Audrey Hepburn.”

Don had had the priviledge of dressing Carrie Underwood for the CMAs. She’s been wearing his designs since she was on American Idol - wearing the dresses while he was at Badgley Mischka then wore Theia just after he’d started it back-to-back on the red carpet for the CMAs and the American Music Awards. The short dress Carrie Underwood wore for the American Music Awards has been the one look on the singer that’s been featured the most of any designer she’s worn on Best Dressed Lists and more.

Don loves NYC because EVERYONE lives in New York. It’s a big melting pot with the best of everything - shows, museums, people…

Don and Theia have created the most beautiful and pretty bridal collection! They gave me a look through the lookbook full of beautiful embroideries, lace, soft fabrics, and more! And, the price point will surprise you! Much more affordable than I could have imagined for such gorgeous gowns!

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Don and Fran from Theia - great people!

- Ranjana Khan: Not Just A Designer’s Wife -

You may recognize Ranjana Khan from her appearances on Real Housewives of New York (showing the girls face yoga) or from her high end clothing designer husband Naaem Khan, but the former model who left India for the US to avoid an arranged marriage holds her own with her line of jewelry.

Just as I lost my audio from the interview with Kelly Wearstler when my iPhone had a panic attack, the same happened with my interview with Ranjana Khan at Tootsies in Houston, unfortunately. But, luckily I also took some notes. So, while you won’t be able to read all of what the jewelry designer shared, I’m happy to provide a little glimpse of Mrs. Khan and her story :)

One of 5 children, Ranjana Khan made her own clothes at a young age with inspiration from people like Jackie O. Now, her beautiful jewelry collection is heavily inspired by her Indian roots with hand embroidered pieces. Each piece of jewelry looks as though it would be heavy, but the line ranging from $100-$1200 is made up of light, very wearable beauties. For my own earrings, I’ve had to stray from heavy pairs that weigh my ears down, so the standout light earrings from Ranjana’s collection immediately got my attention! When looking at each piece, you see the designer’s design philosophy throughout - the soft with the hard (i.e. metal and cloth). Ranjana Khan’s creativity and experience designing her own clothing as a child coupled with a luxury clothing designer husband has given her opportunities to collaborate with him for occasions like the ABT Gala where she created her own gown. The two work in the same space, so organically, their collections often compliment - she sees a garment he’s created and says “I want [a piece] to work with this!” From materials to design inspiration, the couple finds inspiration in so many things including each other. What a lucky lady with a fab assortment of jewels and any garment she could ever imagine! She created the shorts she wore the day we met from material Naaem used in his collection and created a one-of-a-kind piece you can’t find anywhere else.

The latest Mayan inspired jewelry from Ranjana Khan can be found at Tootsies and will add excitement to any outfit! It was hard not to take the cuff I tried on above home with me that day! I hope to add it to my jewelry very soon!

*Find select items from Tootsies on farfetch.com from their constantly updated online boutique

Tootsies Big Sale finds today! Hurry before it’s all gone! Elie Tahari jacket & Alexander McQueen scarf… Couldn’t believe the great deals!  (at Tootsies)

Tootsies Big Sale finds today! Hurry before it’s all gone!

Elie Tahari jacket & Alexander McQueen scarf… Couldn’t believe the great deals!

(at Tootsies)

- Fashion’s Fresh Faces with Designer Kelly Wearstler - 


Houston’s annual Fresh Faces of Fashion held at TOOTSIES honors fashionable ladies who give back to the community, and this year included appearances by clothing and interior designer Kelly Wearstler and her collection along with well-known blogger Tina of the Bag Snob and her new denim line DL 1961. I had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly Wearstler (LOVE her!) and get to know her better. The well-known interior designer added Ready-to-wear to her portfolio including pieces like the leather pants she’s wearing in the picture with me above. Unfortunately, I lost the audio from the interview when updating my iPhone, but if by some miracle I recover it, I will post the interview for sure! Kelly was lovely and shared about her life, family, and inspirations for her designs.

The Fresh Faces honorees walked the runway along with models to show off the latest fashions to cheers from friends and supporters. This annual soiree is one Houston’s fashion scene looks forward to every year. Bubbly, delicious bites, fashion, and community all in one. Thanks to TOOTSIES and Houston Magazine for always sponsoring the fab event and for recognizing stylish women who gladly give their time to the community.

Crossing my fingers I’ll have Kelly’s interview to share with you soon!

You can now shop some items from TOOTSIES on farfetch.com, so those of you without access to a store, shop what is available online!

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WHAT I WORE:

Blouse: Miu Miu Sleeveless Bib Blouse

Skirt: Miu Miu Pleat Front Skirt

Clutch: Valentino Bow Clutch with Chain

Sandal: Valentino Studded Gladiator Sandal

SHOP SIMILAR:

Hot off the Fashion Houston runway from last night - CrOp by David Peck Spring/Summer 2013 collection today & tomorrow at Tootsies Houston! 

Drop by & order your pieces!

Read about the Eco-friendly line & the pieces and the charity you are supporting by purchasing CrOp pieces here: http://www.davidpeckcollection.com/?Click=1454

Hot off the Fashion Houston runway from last night - CrOp by David Peck Spring/Summer 2013 collection today & tomorrow at Tootsies Houston!

Drop by & order your pieces!

Read about the Eco-friendly line & the pieces and the charity you are supporting by purchasing CrOp pieces here: http://www.davidpeckcollection.com/?Click=1454

- TOOTSIES hosts Ranjana Khan -

Real Housewives of New York fans get ready! If you watched the most recent season of RHoNY, you will remember Ranjana and her face yoga along with the drama of the Countess asking Ranjana’s husband to borrow a dress. But, the wife of designer Naeem Khan has created a beautiful collection of statement jewelry pieces you’ll love to have! 

    Tootsies is hosting jewelry designer Ranjana Khan to display her newest collectionUsing her knowledge of embroideries, Ranjana launched her jewelry line and soon became one of the most distinguished embellishment designers. She has worked with renowned courtiers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Alber Elbaz and Alexander McQueen. Her jewelry and accessories tell a unique story which represent her Indian culture.

    Naeem Khan, also inspired by the beauty of his Indian culture and design, has committed his life to dressing women in elegant clothes. His clothes have adorned celebrities such as Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, Brook Shields and Eva Longoria. His luxuriously refined collection consists of impeccably cut dresses, sophisticated gowns and chic separates, which he embroiders by hand. 

*Ranjana, Naeem Khan’s wife, will represent her famedhusband during his Spring 2013 trunk show, which is exclusive to Tootsies in Houston.

- “The Sweet Life” with Craig & Yul Taylor: A Dynamic Fashion Designing Duo -

    I had the great pleasure of meeting with designers Craig Taylor and his wife Yul Taylor at TOOTSIES when they came for a trunk show of their Fall/Winter Collection. I was familiar with Craig Taylor from his line of structured blouses, but the couple debuted a full collection with Craig designing most garments and Yul on belts, scarves, handbags, and knits. They were the cutest couple and create amazing pieces for a collection that coordinates across every piece of the carefully chosen fabrics and materials.

    The Fall 2012 collection is dedicated to Italy and is named “La Dolce Vita” which means “the sweet life” in Italian. This couple lives months out of the year in Lake Como, Italy working side by side with their fabric mills to choose patterns and materials that are of the highest quality & make a consumer “feel” luxury with every strand. Craig and Yul describe their debut collection as “lady chic” with simple shapes, soft and luxurious fabrics, and full of prints.

    What you may not know is that Craig Taylor designed cars before venturing to women’s garments. He was the recipient of the Porsche Design Award and worked for the French car company Peugeot Citroen. Yul, born in Kiev, Ukraine, came to the US when she was 9 learning English once her family was in DC. The story on how they met is in the Q&A below. After some time in California, the couple and their design studio are now located in the Sarasota, FL area (when they aren’t in Lake Como working on their gorgeous fabrics).

    The above photos (click each one to view larger) are some looks I put together from the collection at TOOTSIES. I found I could pair just about any garment with the others in the collection which can really help stretch your wardrobe options. I sat down with the style duo and got to hear their story. Get to know Craig and Yul yourself through the Q&A:

           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SCS: How did you two meet?

Taylor: (Craig) We met 11 years ago at a personal appearance I made at Neiman Marcus in DC. Yul worked there, and we discussed fashion. (Yul) I had a business degree & convinced my university that I should do my internship at NM. My parents always thought I should pursue fashion. I was exposed to the best designers at NM and was inspired by them. So, I went back to school for fashion design.

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SCS: Craig, you went from designing cars to women’s clothing. Do you find there are parallels?

Taylor: I think it’s the same kind of thought process. It’s just that with cars I was designing with sheet metal and now I’m designing with fabrics & materials like leather & silk. I used to design with hard materials and now it’s soft materials. It’s still the same sensitivity to style and color and shape and form. I’ve always liked, whether it was a car or a pencil skirt, clean, straight lines – not too cluttered. Simplicity with rich materials has stayed the same – the finest materials. If I was designing the interior of a car I’d use beautiful leathers from the UK – known for their leathers. So, the same philosophy was  let’s go find the most expensive, the most luxurious, the most high quality, the most legendary fabric mills and let’s work with them. Then we put all of those fabrics into very classy silhouettes.

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SCS: How do your car, restaurant, & other design endeavors make you a better clothing designer?

Taylor: (Craig) In England I was exposed to beautiful tailoring – men’s tailoring inLondon. It stuck with me as fascinating how beautifully they construct their garments. I was constructing cars and they were creating beautiful garments like I hadn’t seen in the states. So that became a “thing” I was interested in & didn’t really get to do anything with for a while. After years of designing cars, I thought about what I should do. I designed at restaurants and hotels, an espresso machine, a steam boat… In Miami I designed the bar at the Breakwater hotel, The Strand restaurant, and Ciao Bella in Coconut Grove. I had no formal fashion design schooling, but I hung around custom designers & shirt makers onJermyn Street inLondon. It’s one of my favorite streets for men inLondon because of custom shirts & suits. I was fascinated by it all.

SCS: Did any of those custom designers really inspire you?

Taylor: (Craig) One would be Turnbull & Asser. I met a couple of the shirt designers there & was also inspired by Ozwald Boateng, William Hunt, & Richard James. I saw more of men’s traditional tailoring with a twist. Richard James will have a striped shirt with crazy stripes. The shirts were nipped in, tailored, and tight… in Europe (shirts) have a slim shoulder.

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SCS: You take time in Italy every year to focus on your fabrics and patterns. What does it take to create the perfect fabric and pattern?

Taylor: (Craig) We work together on the fabrics. The creative process really does begin in Italy. We can go & pull from an enormous library of prints & start to notice that there’s a certain direction that we are going. Each time we notice a different trend that we are going in. That’s where we start to see where we’re building the collection. We joke how we have veto power. If one of us really hates [a pattern] and the other feels really strongly about it - we have veto power to veto when one of us wants it bad enough but it just doesn’t go. We go in the mills and pull hundreds of prints and then add inspiration like a trip to South France - where we observe the women on the streets and their style. They add a simple scarf around the neck, etc. The fabrics get edited down, then there’s the inspiration that comes in – like an old casino item from the casino inMonte Carlo, so it becomes aMonte Carlo theme. This collection’s theme is “La Dolce Vita”. This is all about luxurious fabrics & lady chic styles & 60s simple shapes. 

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SCS: Do each of you have a favorite piece from the collection?

Taylor:

(Craig)I like seeing pretty, so I think the winter white theme is one of my favorites. It looks so lady chic & so simple & clean (worn by Yul).

(Yul)  I love the silk front cardigans. I have cardigans that I wear all of the time. You’d think living inFlorida that I wouldn’t, but in a restaurant it might be cold so I have a cardigan or for when I travel. And, I love how (with the silk front knits) you can wear a tank underneath or a shirt. I love that we’re making sweaters now. It’s a versatile styling tool.