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FEATURES

Filtering by Category: Fashion

Mimi Prober

Mira Dayal

Mimi Prober is not only a proponent of the zero-waste fashion movement, but also one if its strongest leaders. In her collection the designer repurposes vintage lace and fabric remnants from the 1920s and earlier — with stunning results. 

By Mira Dayal

Fairweather Magazine: As I'm sure most people wonder, where do you find your materials? How do you ensure that you have context for their creation (the stories you refer to)? Did you consider using other types of vintage materials?

Mimi Prober: You are right! It is a question I receive often. It is a constant search for something special, almost like a treasure hunt. My main sources of materials are museum deaccessions and private collections. I have been lucky from very early on, as I’ve continued to develop this concept, to have people reach out to me interested in sharing their own family stories from materials that they have received that have been passed down from generation to generation. Not all pieces, though, have such a direct history; many come with names and locations that then I’ve personally done research on to learn more about where and whom they came from. Even content as minimal as the origin of creation, type of lace technique and date of piece is information that should be cherished and preserved.

I remain close to my philosophy of utilizing material fragments that are dated to the 1920’s and earlier (the materials that I use typically range in date from the 18th century-early 20th century). There is a closeness and connection that I feel to the handmade quality of these pieces –most of the materials that I select to use in the collection were handmade by artisans and makers of their previous era, which honors the story of the artists who came before us and continues a modern vision of these ‘lost’ artistic forms.

As far as utilizing other materials, I have created a sustainable fine jewelry collection as an extension of the atelier collection. ‘Metamorphosed Art’ is a collection in which antique sterling silver (from the same time period as the materials used within the garments, that have
also been deteriorated from their original intended forms) is developed organically into modern sculptural forms.

FM: What is your working process like? Do you start out by sorting antique pieces into groups that would work well together, or is it a more accumulative process?

MP: I begin with the antique materials that are uncovered; the individual textiles dictate the process and development of the piece. Each piece from the atelier collection is hand draped directly on the form. Through this signature draping technique I am able to individually evaluate and apply the antique textiles and their placement, similar to creating a sculptural
composition.

FM: Do you work from special orders? How do you communicate with clients to understand their visions while maintaining creative freedom throughout the process?

MP: I can create custom orders based upon the collection concept. Each piece is essentially one of a kind due to the antique nature of the materials, but silhouettes can be repeated and similar materials utilized to create multiple pieces from the collection. This also lends the ability to custom fit or create a new piece based upon the client’s unique measurements.

I have also worked alongside clients in creating special gowns for their weddings; the process is a beautifully intimate conversation concerning what about my work inspired them to commission a piece and how it incorporated into their own vision. One process that was particularly inspiring was creating a gown for a bride who wanted to integrate textiles from her own mother’s wedding gown. She was also getting married in Spain, so I utilized a selection of textiles from her mother’s wedding dress (which was a beautifully simple pleated cotton) and combined it with antique Spanish silk lace from the 1800’s. The result was an heirloom dress that is uniquely hers, but it still utilized all of the signature elements from
my own design philosophy.

FM: Have you ever collaborated with other designers, or are you hoping to in the future? What would that collaboration look like?

MP: I am in the process of an exciting collaboration with a textile artist on some very special and unique textile development for a ready to wear collection which includes signature Mimi Prober atelier elements and the continued philosophy of integrating antique textiles.

FM: What other models for zero waste fashion do you see working best in the future? Why have more designers not changed their practices?

MP: I believe sustainability in design, including zero waste fashion, is the future. There are many ways to utilize the concept--from pattern to draping to the recycling of textiles. From both an environmental and economic standpoint, there is no reason why materials should ever be wasted. Big change always starts small, and the designers of this generation are increasingly becoming aware of the need for industry change.

FM: Can you tell me more about your integrated production process and Manufacture New York?

MP: The integrated production process is very unique as it provides great opportunities for business acceleration. At Manufacture New York, I have access to my studio base alongside the facilities for the production process (which has proven well for the creation stage for our ready to wear line development), as all of the product development, sample making, and small run production can be produced in house in the same environment where my studio/atelier is based.

The educational offerings at MNY are also an essential addition for a designer or business that is interested in expanding their knowledge base with hands on workshops. Businesses can learn how to integrate sustainable practices including textile creation and zero waste production methods into their own brand ethos through these industry led classes and
training.

FM: Would you please share any traditions or events you are looking forward to, or any items on your wish list?

MP: What I find most inspiring about the holidays in NYC is the sharing of traditions from all around the world and the true sense of community celebrating from all walks of life. We all may celebrate the holidays differently, but we all share the same basic purpose, and New York is a great city that brings it all together.

As a great and unique gift to give for the holidays, I would recommend the one of a kind sustainable antique sterling sculptural pieces from the 'Metamorphosed Art' fine jewelry collection. My favorite is the draped hand ring and minimal band.

 

Rebecca van Bergen

Mable Yiu

Rebecca van Bergen in Varanasi, courtesy of Neil Davenport

Rebecca van Bergen in Varanasi, courtesy of Neil Davenport

by Camilla Misiaszek

Rebecca van Bergen is the Founder and Executive Director of Nest, a non-profit committed to helping local artisans sustainably develop their small businesses. She is empowering women, promoting prosperity, and introducing globally inspired designs and materials to the fashion industry. Here, she shares with us her remarkable journey, impact, and travels.

Camilla Misiaszek: What prompted you to start Nest? What was your source of inspiration?

Rebecca van Bergen: I founded Nest when I was 24. It was 2006 and I had just earned my master’s degree in social work from Washington University in my hometown, St. Louis. This was the same year that Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to create economic and social development through microfinance and microcredit. I was drawn to his work, and wanted to explore the opportunities for economic development beyond monetary investment but through training and infrastructure as well. I always knew that as a woman I wanted to support fellow women – I felt and still personally feel, even more so now that I am a mom, that economic independence and family life should not be mutually exclusive. 

An avid traveler, I had noticed that craft was very unique in its ability to create employment opportunities for women while allowing them to care for their children and families. On top of this, the women always seemed to be very happy when working on their craft – it seemed to bring personal joy and the opportunity to connect with others in the community. At the time, sustainable fashion was not a buzzword, so artisans and homeworkers were certainly not a widely discussed issue. I decided to make this my issue. Recognizing that the company I wanted to work for did not yet exist, I entered a business plan competition for social enterprise and to my surprise, I presented my idea for what is now Nest and the $24,000 grand prize funded Nest’s start. 

CM: Please describe how you partner with businesses to provide opportunities for local artisans.

RVB: Nest believes very strongly that change in the artisan sector must come from many directions. Many brands employ artisans and homeworkers in their supply chains. This is incredibly important for artisan groups, because it provides them access to the market, which fuels sales and keeps their businesses strong and growing. Despite how fast-paced and largely mechanized the fashion industry in particular has become, industry estimates indicate that 40% of garment production is likely to be happening in homes, rather than in the four-walled factory setting. Nest is very committed to helping these brands that work with artisans and homeworkers to bring visibility and viability to these complex supply chains. We offer our artisan assessment and programming services to them through a fee-for-service model, and also invite them to source from artisans who have already benefited from Nest business programming. Artisans with whom Nest has assisted have been able to achieve strong sourcing partnerships with cult brands including The Elder Statesman, FEED, West Elm, TSE and many others.

CM: How has Nest impacted local artisans?

RVB: I am so proud to say that Nest’s impact right now is stronger than ever. It grows with each year, and we are just getting started. By bolstering the global craft sector and leveraging a fair capitalist market as the sustainable glue to hold its programming in place, Nest’s goal is to see artisan business growth across all groups reached by Nest programming. In 2015, artisan businesses benefiting from Nest’s services realized an average increase in production of 45% and revenues grew by 76% on average, across the board. Most importantly, this economic growth is trickling down to the individual artisan level year over year. In 2015, Nest artisans saw Nest artisans saw an average increase in staffing of 8% and Nest artisans earn on average 120% more than their national minimum wage. As countless studies show with great proof of concept, when women in developing economies are empowered through employment, they are likely to invest their incomes in family care and community enrichment. For every Nest artisan employed an estimated 20 other lives are impacted including the lives of family members and children as well other people in the craft supply chain.

CM: What is the most memorable place you've traveled to? 

RVB: India has a way of taking hold of something deep within you that never quite leaves. Varanasi in particular is a holy city of death, and yet it is pulsing with life. The food, the colors, the emotions, the passion for family and culture – it is all bold and raw and compelling, just like the craft that comes from the region. In Varanasi, Nest works with handloom silk weavers who have been struggling to keep this 500 year-old tradition alive. Just ten years ago as many as 100,000 Indian handlooms were active, but since the rise of the power loom and the outsourcing of cheap labor to factories, this number has been cut in half. With Nest’s help, we have seen a dramatic increase in awareness and appreciation for the rare handloom technique. Following a design elevation mentorship, our partners in India presented a new contemporary silk collection to luxury fashion brands in Paris, resulting in incorporation of their silks into three Spring 2016 runway collections! It is incredible to be a part of this cultural diffusion and merging of East and West – one of the rare experiences that make Nest’s work so special. While I am able to travel less these days with two young children at home, I look forward to my next trip to India!

CM: What are some of the challenges you've faced as an entrepreneur?

RVB: As an entrepreneur, your company or organization becomes your baby. Your heart and soul are invested in your work, and the lines between personal and professional life can be blurry. By and large, there are meaningful benefits to this synergy. However, I have learned the importance of setting aside time that is reserved exclusively for family and moments of personal repose. I know Nest will always be there waiting for me when I pick back up my work again.

CM: What are your plans for the future?  

RVB: Nest is approaching its ten-year anniversary! As we approach this milestone, we are at an incredible inflection point in our growth as an organization. Over the past ten years, we have learned so much about the complexities of the artisan sector and we have been able to analyze where the greatest challenges and opportunities lie. As we head into the years ahead, we are excited to play a larger role in not only directly servicing artisan businesses, but also in tackling the global sector solutions that plague the craft sector as a whole. These issues include wastewater management during textile dyeing (an issue that creates both environmental and safety concerns), living wage models applicable in the piece rate payment setting, and technology integration for rural or highly decentralized groups. These challenges, and many others that other organizations shy away from, must be solved for the sector as whole in order for the industry to advance. Nest is committed to continually identifying these big picture issues, connecting key industry leaders, and working with these partners to build solutions at scale.

CM: In the spirit of the holidays, what's on your gift-giving list?

RVB: The greatest gift for me is the health and happiness of my family. Believe it or not, that includes my Nest family too – my dedicated team, our philanthropic supporters and volunteers, and the artisans we have the joy of working with. There has been so much pain, suffering, violence, and hurt taking place in the world, that I feel grateful for all the examples of love, compassion and understanding that I encounter daily. Nest stands for these values. 

Nest is also inviting our supporters to gift a $60 holiday donation in honor of someone special for the holidays. All donations will be sent with a beautiful ByBoe 14K gold fill necklace [image below], designed and donated by artist and Nest supporter, Annika Inez. Each delicate necklace is packaged in a Varanasi silk pouch made by our artisan partners in India, and includes a note describing the donation. Handmade in New York, these special gifts fund a 100% donation to Nest, supporting makers around the world. In addition to this, I am always excited to see the holiday offerings from Nest’s partners like West Elm, FEED, and The Elder Statesman, who are committed to a more socially responsible industry and are making gorgeous objects that bring beauty into our lives.

Photos courtesy of Nest.

Rose-Marie Swift

Mable Yiu

Founder of an organic cosmetic line used by models and celebrities around the world, Rose-Marie Swift discusses the inspiration for RMS Beauty and why it is so important to check the ingredients list in both your food and make-up products.

by Mable Yiu

Mable Yiu: The whole glowy and dewy no-makeup makeup look has really blown up over the past few years. Did you predict this when you first started RMS, or was it something you had always been a fan of yourself?   

Rose-Marie Swift: To me the idea of glowing and dewy no-make-up skin always went hand in hand with my beauty philosophy, so the trend was really there the whole time. Timing just wasn’t right  for it to blow up.  The whole trend in clean eating for health stemming from the uproar over our chemical laden food and environment led the ground work for it becoming mainstream.

MY: I love how your products incorporate organic and moisturizing ingredients such as raw coconut oil and cocoa butter. What was the process like creating your own cosmetic line, utilizing specific oils and minerals?

RMS: It all started on my journey through my own body cleansing after I found out I had health issues stemming from a great abundance of heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides found within my system. I started a whole regime to purge my system and self-heal. One of the catalyst was changing my diet to a raw food diet. Through that I learned about raw oils, butters and their many healing properties, etc. I started slowly using that knowledge to mix my own products. With the help of a chemist friend in Canada whom helped me with the actual formula percentages, I was able to actually go into the labs with my own formulas that are now what we know as RMS Beauty.  It took many years and just as much time on research and experimentation but I am happy with the results.

MY: You have mentioned that you started an organic, healthy and pure beauty line due to some health issues you experienced in the past that were related to toxic chemicals found in every day cosmetic products. Where can people find more information about which ingredients are good or bad for their skin?  

RMS: The internet is full of great information as long as you know who to trust.  Also there is a site called www.cosmeticsdatabase.com and an app THINKDIRTY (to name one) which helps you to navigate the confusing world of cosmetic ingredients and grades the toxicity of some of these products on the market.

MY: If you had to choose one product to get you through these upcoming dry, winter months, which one would it be?  

RMS: My beauty oil for all of its skin balancing and antioxidants that protect the skin. I also have to add in my lip and skin balm for easy application and mobility (it just can be thrown in your purse).

MY: Where do you see RMS Beauty heading in the future?

RMS: Hopefully on its continuous travel upwards.

MY: What are your plans for this Holiday season, and what are you giving this Holiday season? 

RMS: I am going to spend my holiday in my hometown of North Vancouver Canada with my family.

 

Photos courtesy of RMS Beauty

Alireza Niroomand

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of Kat Irlin

Photo courtesy of Kat Irlin

by Mable Yiu

Alireza Niroomand, stylistic eye behind Sant Ambroeus Soho, shares fashion and design insights.

Born in Iran, raised in Paris, and having made New York City his home 12 years ago, Alireza Niroomand is the charismatic manager behind the fashion establishment. He's also the reason why the restaurant has attracted waves of celebrities and developed a stylish following. Niroomand is not only an expert in the hospitality industry, but has also made fashion part of his lifestyle by working with brands such as Kate Spade, where he was photographed for her fall campaign. We asked him about his experience working with such brands.

It's been a true honor! And very inspiring. The best part is that I got to meet most of the artists I ever dreamed to meet...The whole experience has been rather surreal. I am very grateful.

The famous plate wall at Sant Ambroeus Soho. Photo courtesy of Sant Ambroeus.

The famous plate wall at Sant Ambroeus Soho. Photo courtesy of Sant Ambroeus.

What are your future plans?

The plan for the future is no plan, which I believe is the best plan. I leave room for spontaneity, which has been very effective thus far!

Daniel Silverstain

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of Nir Arieli

Photo courtesy of Nir Arieli

by Mira Dayal

Named one of the "10 Most Promising Designers" by Vogue Italy in 2012, Daniel Silverstain has since become an innovative fashion icon.

What experiences led to your interest in fashion? What have been some of your most exciting experiences (shows abroad, partnerships, breakthroughs) so far?

To tell the truth, even though I grew up surrounded by fashion and manufacturing (having both of my parents running a fashion company back in Israel), I was the one in the family always trying to avoid it. I have studied music since I was 7 years old, and that's all I was concentrating on. I clearly remember always saying to my parents that I am musician and I am not interested in fashion. Later I became a record artist, releasing albums and performing across the country. After my army service, I felt like I needed to be away for awhile, and decided to travel to Nepal and India for 6 months. Asia was a game changer for me, as I started exploring textiles with knitting, screen printing, and even jewelry making. On my last day in India, I decided I wanted to continue studying these worlds of design, and 3 months later I applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City. 

Since I was a young kid I loved New Yorkthe energy, rhythm, possibilitiesand always dreamt about living here one day. At the time I was sure it would be for my music career. I couldn't imagine I would be follow the footsteps of my family and launch my own label as a fashion designer. I would say moving to the city all the way from Israel was the most important step I have done. Many exciting opportunities followed this move. I began studying fashion, winning "10 Most Promising Designers" by Vogue Italy two years later. Showing in New York Fashion Week with ELLE Magazine while still being a student, working for amazing international brands brands such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Calving Klein, Elie Tahari, launching my own brand, dressing up Lady Gaga for her birthday, and the list keep going..

Where do you see your brand heading in the future, both physically and in terms of design? How do you think your brand sets itself apart from other young designer brands?

DANIEL SILVERSTAIN collection gained organic exposure even before I launched the brand. The most repetitive comment I received from day one was that the product is different from what's out there, and yet it's very wearable and comfortable. This is our main goal - to create unique designs that make women feel special and stand out in the crowd yet remain comfortable. Today's market is extremely saturated and full of talent. I believe that we hold on to a very important balance of luxury materials with unique aesthetic, and comfort. At the end of the day, individuals who buy luxury products want to feel their purchase was price worthy and makes them stand out. It can be translated with amazing textiles, great craftsmanship and fit, but most importantly they need to be able to live in these great designs and not feel as if they are wearing a costume. 

I love being part of fitting with private clients coming to our studio. There is an immediate transformation in the way they stand and carry themselves once they are dressed up in our collection. The look on their face is priceless. Many times they don't even expect to look like they do, or think they can't pull it off. But once they are in this dress, their mindset changes about themselves and they look confident and powerful. Fashion has a lot of influence on the way we behave, and great design can lift us up immediately. My dream is to dress more and more women and make each of them stand out in their individual way. 

I am very intrigued by the accessories market and looking forward to start develop that niche to complete a total look of DS woman.

Why womenswear? Do you see yourself widening the brand into menswear in the future? 

There is no direct answer to that to be honest. I simply chose fashion design back in school, and felt very natural in this environment. Womenswear categories are a bit larger than men's, with dresses, skirts, and non ending materials to use. There is not a single material you can't use and translate into womenswear, while menswear is a bit more strict and functional. Most men are very straightforward with their fashion, and usually it is more about the styling than a single unique item. With that being said, I did explore once with a small capsule collection for men which received great response, and I am sure I will get back to it soon enough. It is definitely an interesting, fast-growing market, which in a way has much more to evolve to compare to women.

In contemporary culture, gender fluidity is increasingly brought into discussions across all aspects of life. How do you see this playing out in fashion and design?

I see it all the time. I mean, I myself wear some of the items I design even though they were made for women. As I said, menswear has a lot of room to grow still as far as categories. I am sure we will see in the future men wearing skirts and dresses (it's not like it never happened in our history). I feel like today women are very open in terms of wearing anything, even menswear, and society is more and more accepting of it. Men are still exploring it but there is definitely an evolution happening.

You cite 20th century art and architecture as sources of inspiration for your work-- who are some of your favorite artists and architects? What shows, performances, or projects have you enjoyed recently?

The BAUHAUS Movement. My family is from Tel Aviv, Israel, which is home to more Bauhaus buildings than anywhere in the world and recognized by UNESCO as a "Heritage Treasure." I always adored architecture (and almost decided to study it instead of fashion), so I feel big part of me is still designing as if I design for a building. I find the Bauhaus has a timeless futuristic aesthetic. It represents functionalism, minimalism, and geometry. One main principle of the Bauhaus is the reunion of the arts and the crafts in order to achieve total works of art. According to this principle, all arts, as well as new technologies, should be combined in the art of building. It is interesting since I never explored or learned about this movement directly until much later, and yet my designs and overall aesthetic have been influenced by it from beginning.

The Art of Living

fairweather enterprises

By Alexandra Fairweather & Lisa Graham

As real estate experts, we regularly visit the beautiful homes of tastemakers and movers and shakers. We have learned that there is truly an "Art of Living" that should be explored, studied, and ultimately mastered. Recently, we spoke with the beautiful Yesim Philip, former professional Turkish basketball player and founder of the luxury sport clothing line, L'Etoile Sport, at her gorgeous Upper East Side home to discuss how her lifestyle is a direct expression of who she is.

How did L’Etoile Sport come about?

Sports have been part of my life since I was six years old. I started playing tennis actively about five years ago and I couldn’t find clothes that were stylish enough to wear on and off the court. So L’Etoile Sport was born in November of 2011 before fitness apparel had become the new “sportswear.” Now sports are having a huge influence on women’s fashion.

Do you find that your experiences as a professional basketball player in Turkey have influenced your line?

I guess, playing basketball professionally made me aware of athletic clothing and what I need to perform better. I lived in these clothes 24/7, so it was important to create something feminine, functional, yet still elegant and classic.

What are the inspirations for your line?

I take things that are basic, integral parts of everyday life, then mix and mold them together so they are simple but at the same time completely different. So everyday clothes inspire me.

What are you most looking forward to with your new line?

Every season is exciting but I am most ex- cited completing a collection and finding perfection. I design for tennis, golf, launching activewear and cashmeres to complete the collection. Having all the parts of the collection in sync with one another is the fun part of it. My ultimate goal is to continue creative work and build a collection that stays true to my brand identity.

How do you define “The Art of Living ” and how have you expressed it in your home?

I believe in simplicity, timeless elegance, and perfection. I try to create that in my apartment with simple decor but jazz it up with my art. I want my art to pop out, not to disappear in a jungle of furniture. I try to balance the values of innovation and tradition, if that makes sense.

Do you have a favorite feature of your apartment?

Benches under Jenny Holzer photographs. My husband thought at first they were mismatched, but he loves them now.

How would you define your style?

I think my style represents simplicity with timeless elegance.

Do you find that your line, L’Etoile Sport, influences your design at home?

I feel like they are the same. I like simplicity with a modern twist yet still classic.

Do you have a favorite piece of art in your apartment?

I love a Louisa Fishman painting in our living room and Jenny Holzer photographs.

Do you have advice for people who are designing their home?

It is important to have your own touch in every aspect of the design of your home. Even though you may get help from a designer, make sure that designer shares the same point of view as you.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood in New York City?

It will sound like a cliché and not cool, but I love my current neighborhood and love being close to Central Park.

Why did you decide to live on the Upper East Side?

We used to live in the West Village, but when I got pregnant with our second child and found out it was going to be boy, we decided to move closer to the park so he can enjoy the free space it offers.

What are your favorite spots on the Upper East Side?

Central Park, Central Park, Central Park. I am heavily involved with the Central Park Conservancy and without the park I'm not sure if many of us would still be living in the city.

The Brand of You

fairweather enterprises

By Evan Hughes

We caught up with Delisha Grant, attorney and expert on self-branding, for some tips on building your personal brand.

For someone just getting started, what is the best way to start identifying what their “brand” is?

It is important to consider three key components: Talent—What are you insanely good at? Passion—What would get you out of bed in the morning even if you were not paid to do it? Unique identifiers—What characteristic(s) separate you from the pack and would make people stop and take notice? The multimedia age that we live in is really a blessing and a curse. Technology and new media have made it much easier to gain access to a target demographic, but at the same time, the market is almost always flooded with other brands competing for the same target audience’s attention. Cutting through noise and establishing your niche takes immense dedication and consistency. It is not an overnight process. I have found that those who can settle into the area where talent, passion, and uniqueness intersect are much more likely to stay the course and build a sustainable brand.

Is blogging still of interest to recent grads?

I think blogging is here to stay. It is a great way to pique (and keep) public interest and have a “voice” on the Internet. But, blogging only brings benefit when it’s done correctly. If the purpose of blogging is to grow a brand and expand its audience, new posts must be frequent—once per week at minimum. I haven’t even mastered this yet, but I have seen it work for others. Those who are intrigued by your content will crave more of it, and the moment they realize that you blog sporadically is the moment they will inevitably stop being very attentive. It is worth noting that once your blog is established and has a substantial following, the frequency is a lot less important. Also of importance—what blogging was 10 years ago is very different from what it is today. Gone are the days when blog posts had to be several paragraphs to be taken seriously. It is no secret that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I think this is partially why micro-blogging sites like Tumblr have become so popular. Brevity rules the day. This doesn’t mean that lengthy blog posts are a no-go (I’m still a fan of well-written articles that look more like an op-ed piece than a twitter update). It just means that the content must be pretty informative and/or inspiring if you want people to keep reading beyond the first 250 words. Lastly, blogging creates a very unique opportunity to significantly expand your audience overnight. Video isn’t the only thing that can go viral. There are countless stories of bloggers whose popularity skyrocketed by way of one post landing in front of the right set of eyes. You never know when your content may be shared by the right person or picked up by a major media outlet and result in thou- sands or even millions of new readers flocking to your blog.

What role can/should video play in branding yourself?

Video is incredibly important in branding yourself, and probably the component that people are slowest to adopt. Appearing on camera can create a level of unwanted vulnerability that can be avoided in other branding elements like blogging. However, this is precisely why video is so effective. It reveals the person behind the brand, or confirms that the person and the brand are really one and the same. This is some- thing audiences seem to be more and more interested in. It makes you “human” and gives your personality and quirks an opportunity to shine through. When done correctly, it can lead to viewers falling in love with you as a person and supporting your associated brand(s) for that reason alone. Social media also makes “guerrilla” style videography completely acceptable. Who says you need an expensive camera and an experienced editor to connect with current and prospective fans through this medium? Just get started, even if it means taping on your smartphone. If you generate a significant following, a media partner may come along and foot the bill for a more sophisticated setup.

Giving 100 Percent

fairweather enterprises

JOAN HORNIG designs stunning jewelry at price points for all budgets, but what she does with the profits is even more amazing, says EVAN HUGHES.

Sure, you could call Joan Hornig a “jeweler to the stars.” After all, her gorgeous designs have adorned the bodies of such Hollywood A-listers as Zoë Saldana, Emma Roberts, Emma Stone, Amy Poehler, Naomi Watts, and Cameron Diaz. But you’d be only half-right. In fact, Joan Hornig’s real accomplishment is that she donates 100 percent of her profts to charity. No, that is not a misprint. 

Browse the tasteful, distinctive pieces—made with 18k gold, sterling silver, and semiprecious stones—on the Joan Hornig Jewelry website ( joanhornig.com) and you might presume that Hornig is smiling all the way to the bank. But the former Wall Streeter has a much higher purpose.

After the tragic events of 9/11, Hornig was inspired to transition away from high finance and put her budding passion—and exquisite talent—for jewelry-making to work helping others. But the Harvard Business School graduate was determined not to follow the conventional charity formula of throwing expensive bashes for worthy causes (where, unfortunately, the nonprofit being supported by the benefit is often an afterthought). 

Instead, Hornig decided to focus on the enthusiasm and passion that many potential charitable donors bring to jewelry. “Jewelry is portable sculpture that doesn’t find a home till it’s worn by a woman,” Hornig says. “As a fundraising tool, it’s easy to transport and store, and because of the precious metals used to craft it, jewelry only increases in value over the years.”

Thus was born Hornig’s philanthropy model: When you buy one of her pieces— available at luxury retail outlets such as Bergdorf Goodman and at joanhornig.com, she donates all of her profts to the charity of your choice.

“We make it easy: Just tell us the name of the nonprofit you want to donate to, and we’ll track them down and take care of the paperwork,” Hornig notes. “And once you’ve made a donation, your charity will go on our online list so others can consider donating to your cause too.”

A quick look at her website will confirm that this is a win-win: Not only are you supporting the worthy cause of your own choice, but you will take home a miniature work of art—often inspired by tribal designs and Hornig’s deep knowledge of art history. And lest Hornig’s beautiful design eye makes you fear sticker shock, know that she prides herself on offering price points from under $50 to five figures. The name of her parent company really says it all: Philanthropy Is Beautiful. 

Christophe & Carolina: Fluent in Style

Mira Dayal

Christophe von Hohenberg & Carolina von Humboldt met at a party in Christophe’s home in 2008. She was admiring the nude images on display, when he walked over and introduced himself as the photographer. . . . 

. . . And the rest is history. 

Trompe l’oeil painter and interior designer Carolina von Humboldt speaks the language of art:

Almost daily, I walk past a beautiful interior design studio on the ground foor of a building on New York’s Upper East Side. The space evokes the image of a white canvas with accents of color: Photographs adorn the room; books are neatly stacked under the window; a white desk hugs the wall and a kitchen aisle runs down the room’s center.

I have often wondered who works there and what their lives are like. I found out one recent fall weekend when I set out to interview renowned interior designer and trompe l’oeil painter, Carolina von Humboldt, and discovered the studio was hers.

The atmosphere is sophisticated yet warm and inviting, which speaks to Carolina’s unparalleled ability to create and customize comfort. Her ofce is decorated with a beautiful combination of classic and modern pieces. Her paintings and designs beautify private homes and ofces around the world, including the Paris headquarters of Estee Lauder Europe and the corporate ofces of Fiducial in Paris, Lyon, and Antwerp.

“You need to talk to the client. You have to get along as human beings before anything happens,” said Carolina, who defnes style as “timeless,’’ and is inspired by “the mystery of tomorrow.’’ 

Carolina von Humboldt was born in Paris to Spanish-German parents. She started her career in Paris as a textile designer when she was 18 years old.

“I fnished high school, and I went to an art school in Paris and then I wanted to go on my own. I didn’t want to stay in my parent’s house,’’ she said. “You either study and stay home or you do something else, so I got a job as a textile designer.’’

Her frst big job was with the Parisian luxury linen maker D. Portdault, where she worked on their custom line and designed the prototype for their frst beach towel. “I remember feeling very proud. It was a big blue fsh in diferent shades of blue!” Carolina said.

She soon decided to study trompe l’oeil in Paris, Milan and Rome. “Since I was little, I always painted, more or less, depending on my life and other things,” explains Carolina. She enjoys painting nature, especially water because “it changes all the time with the light, the weather.” 

After a 10-year pause for a modeling career, Carolina moved on to interior design, working with clients in their corporate ofces, commercial spaces and residences in Europe, South America and New York.

When starting a new project, she imagines the design from the client’s perspective. “My frst step is to feel in the same wave length with the client and remember they will live or work there, not me.” Carolina likes colors to travel through the rooms. “They should come back here and there, but in a subtle way. It should not be obvious.”

She has lived and traveled throughout Europe and Latin America and speaks fve languages fuently, although Italian is her favorite. “I went very often and I lived there, but I’m not Italian,’’ Carolina refected. “I always liked visiting. I think it’s the country that has the most beautiful things.’’

Carolina moved to New York in 2004 after a client commissioned her to design a Madison Avenue apartment. The city remains one of her favorite places in the world.

“Everyone wants to be working here,’’ muses Carolina. “There must be something; there is a reason for that.”

Carolina von Humboldt’s current project is Le Bilboquet, the iconic French bistro on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. To learn more about Carolina, please visit cvhinteriors.com and carolinavonhumboldt.com. 

Hats Off to Kokin

Mira Dayal

The master milliner is on top of the world.

EVEN AS A CHILD growing up in Bufalo, NY, Kokin was drawn to the dramatic. While he imagined a career on the stage, little did he know that the spotlight would fnd him not on Broadway, but on top of the world of millinery masters.

Kokin counts among his devoted clientele the likes of Julia Roberts, Hilary Duf, Michelle Pfeifer, Cindy Lauper, Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Sophia Loren, Mischa Barton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cher, Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Bianca Jagger, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon.

“I really appreciate designers who make a woman look beautiful,” says Kokin, who rose to the top of his feld with the unveiling of his fall, 1983 collection. “Great design is memorable; bad design is forgettable.”

He would know. Kokin is responsible for creating some of the most memorable pop culture fashion moments. Alicia Silverstone wore Kokin in the 1993 movie Clueless, as did Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) sported a Kokin topper in the television show Gossip Girl and Sofa Vergara seductively tips a Kokin hat while sipping Diet Pepsi in a recent ad campaign.

In a period when grunge and “heroin chic” became the rage with oversized plaid shirts and ripped jeans, Kokin focused on refned feminine designs. 

A stickler for top quality, Kokin works with fne materials like cashmere jersey, duchess satin, python leather and wool ottoman. “People will always pay for something beautiful,” says Kokin. “If something was beautiful in 1950, it is still beautiful today. In every collection you will see Audrey Hepburn peeking through from somewhere.”

Kokin explains that running a millinery shop is still like running an old world business. Many of his machines date back to 1890, and when a part malfunctions, it can be difcult to fnd someone to make the repair. “It’s a hard business,’’ he admits. “It’s a business that not everyone understands.”

Kokin has adapted to changes in the industry. “Stores don’t really have hat departments anymore,” he laments. “However, I’m selling more hats without a hat department than ever before.”

He now has a fagship store on 1028 Lexington Avenue in New York City, and his designs are also sold in Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, as well as stores in Rome, Paris, Dubai, Tokyo, and Beijing.

Kokin’s craft is also getting a royal boost from Kate Middleton. Like Princess Diana before her, the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearances in exquisite hats have sparked an increase in sales. “Thanks to Kate Middleton people now come in requesting fascinators,” he says, adding that many customers come in requesting “fasteners” or “fashinators.”

Kokin believes that a woman should dress “for the theater of her life.” He claims that “women buy things in my store that they wouldn’t buy anywhere else,” noting that many customers have “always wanted to wear a veil, or a fedora like a man, or even a cocktail hat.”

The master does not think that a beautiful hat, which he regards as “one of the greatest cosmetics,” should be reserved for special events, adding that superstars Barbra Streisand wears her Kokin originals when gardening, and Bette Midler opts for a topper when having a “bad hair day.”

Not only does Kokin create one-of-a-kind masterpieces, but he sells everyday hats as well. In fact, his best selling hats are black berets.

“There’s nothing like all black,” opines Kokin, suggesting that women should always wear the colors in which they feel the most comfortable. “There’s nothing like a blonde wearing the color of champagne or a redhead wearing green,” Kokin says. “I really like it when a shoe matches a bag. I think it’s chic.”

He recommends protecting your investment by storing hats in hatboxes and not in plastic bags or hanging on the wall, where they collect dust.

Kokin hopes to open stores in Beverly Hills and Paris. “I’m re-entering to do ready-to-wear and accessories.”

To Kokin, no woman should ever look frumpy in a hat. “I always say spend the money on your face. No one is going to take photos of your feet.”