All Posts in Behind the Seams
February 13, 2015 - Comments Off on Fashion History: 5 Things You (Probably) Don’t Know About Lace
There's a lot more to lace than its ability to add a feminine flair to any outfit it graces. Looking back, the fabric has hand a place in most fashion trends through the ages—from the overwhelming lace ruffles Queen Elizabeth would don in the 16th century to the "Below The Knee" dresses flappers so often turned to. For the custom evening and bridal gowns Nicole has created, she favors the exquisite laces made on traditional Leavers looms in France. But there's equally a place for modern-day stretch lace, and we also love the subtle sophistication and function it brings to our Evelyn Dress.
With so many delicate designs and patterns, it's hard to imagine the making-of being anything short of painstaking (and to call it "involved" would be an understatement). So, in our effort to bring everyone closer to the clothing they love, we're digging into a few highlights in the history of process of this elegant textile. Read on and learn.
Lace History Tidbits
In the 17th century, lace was even used to decorate door knobs. Years later, "his and hers" lace collars would become all the rage. Today, the textile plays a much more strategic role in fashion—one that can put a design over-the-top or impress with its subtlety, depending on how it's incorporated. There's a lot to take in when it comes to the history of the fabric, but here are five things you probably didn't know before reading this.
- Tatting (a specific type of lace making) was inspired by the intricate knotting of sailors—used for both functionality on the ships and as mementos for long-distance loved ones. (Side note: Nicole's Great-Grandmother from Greece was an excellent tatter)
- Lace helped people survive Ireland's Potato Famine. Once food became scarce, the women of Ireland created schools to teach crocheting and lace-making. The founders of the schools even assisted their students in selling their creations—helping them survive a time when money and food was hard to come by.
September 30, 2014 - Comments Off on From Idea to Business Plan: How DENYC Helped Nicole Lenzen Define Her Business
There are all kinds of ways to get your business off the ground—whether that's pulling together a business plan by yourself or working with a support group of sorts. Both methods can work, it just depends what you're taking on. Our lady, Nicole Lenzen, decided to work through the base of her endeavor with a strong group of people learning alongside her. Design Entrepreneurs New York City (DENYC) is a small business incubator that's in its third year, which takes a curated group through the ins and outs of putting together a business plan and presenting pitches to industry veterans—including esteemed executives from investment companies, fashion brands, and retailers like LVMH/Christian Dior Couture, Lela Rose, Macy's, and more.
Nicole was one of the entrepreneurs who participated in this year's incubator after hearing about it from a friend who had participated in the past. From giving marketing outreach a more human approach with character profiles to working alongside a temporary mentor, she shared more about the program and what she took away from the experience.
What is DENYC?
DENYC was sponsored by FIT and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, with prize money awarded by GIII—a huge apparel company. Effectively, it's sort of an incubator/mini-MBA program. Getting in this year was quite competitive. I applied in April, and it's really been my life the last few months. The program's goal is to develop a business plan, and a selection of participants are asked to present at the end for a cash prize. In terms of where I stood, I was actually selected as one of the finalists who was asked to present. I didn't win, but still loved and valued the experience.
The workshop part of the class was structured to span four weekends (all day Saturday and Sunday) for four solid weeks in a row in June. You're locked up in a basement in FIT with class from 9am until 6pm—you even have lecturers over lunch. It's just you, the 34 other participants/designers, and the speakers. The attendees were all in the fashion industry, but we all have our own businesses. To be in the class, you have been a business for at least a year. This years participants ranged from apparel to accessories to jewelry to menswear—some years there's childrenswear, but I don't think there were any this year. So it's a nice mix.
The instructors taught us everything from financials like cash flow statements and P&Ls to branding, sourcing, costing, and production—a lot of things that were really relevant, some things that were aspirational, like exit strategies for "when you're ready to sell your business." Those were the bigger picture things that none of us were fully ready for yet. I took copious notes. Even if it was stuff I had already learned, it was a nice reminder of best practices. There was a teacher who had been in the garment district his entire career and just being able to check in with him was wonderful. I could ask questions like, "Am I paying the right amount for dresses in the city?" I could always expect an honest answer. He had great information on manufacturers.
September 8, 2014 - Comments Off on How a One-Armed General Gave Us the Raglan Sleeve
Raglan sleeve variation on our Edie Romper
Before I jump into the slightly gruesome (yes—I mean gruesome) history that resulted in the ever-popular raglan sleeve, let's break down what the style actually is, for those of you not familiar. You've likely seen raglan sleeves in sports and other athletic wear, used for their comfortable, movement-friendly fit. But they also play a stylish role in everyday attire. The main distinguishing characteristic is the angular (vs. round) armhole shape, meaning the sleeve itself is one piece that goes all the way up to the neckline. Take a look at this baseball jersey for a great example. The entire red section is the raglan sleeve:
Our very own Edie Romper has a feminine take on the raglan sleeve—just with added gathers, and a shorter sleeve length compared to the more commonly seen baseball raglans. Now that you know what you're looking at, let's get into the history.
It all dates back to a guy named FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, a British Army officer in the early 19th century. Among many less memorable battles, Somerset fought in Napoleon's last big battle (called the Waterloo Campaign) and received injuries to his right arm that led to amputation. Considering what medicinal methods must have been at that time in history, it's remarkable that he lived through the trauma to share what was to be the general's major gift to fashion—now, that's one sentence I never thought I'd pen. (Fun fact: According to Wikipedia lore, immediately after having the arm removed, he asked for the ring his wife gave him before they took the appendage away.) Despite his disability, Somerset continued to see success as he resumed his position in Paris as secretary to the British Embassy. He was eventually named Baron Raglan (of the village Raglan in south east Wales, UK) in October of 1852, shortly after receiving the title "Master-General of the Ordnance." Sounds important, though I have not the slightest clue what that job description would include.
August 4, 2014 - Comments Off on What to Wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island
Vintage style mavens Michelle Coursey & Voon Chew on the dance floor - photo by Paul Stein
When it comes to themed summer happenings, the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island is one of my favorites. It takes place over two glorious weekends, with the final 2014 dates coming up August 16-17th. Conceived by the dapper bandleader Michael Arenella, the event is a dreamy escape back in time: 1920's garb, antique gramophones, a vintage motorcar exhibition, pie contests, properly themed cocktail, and—of course—lots of dancing. (You can see the complete "Run of Show" here.) Once you get past the excitement of what the Lawn Party actually is, don’t let the anxiety of coming up with an outfit weigh you down. There is no specific dress code, but everyone is encouraged to channel elegant vintage-inspired attire to contribute to the overall spirit. Here are a few tips for dressing for the occasion, but make sure to buy your tickets first.
Miuccia Prada + Catherine Martin costumes for Baz Luhrman's Gatsby
The 1920s style brings about visions of fringed shifts and beaded extravagancies. This is the event to pull out your finest and wear it well. For inspiration, the gorgeous costumes created by Miuccia Prada and Catherine Martin for Bahz Luhrman's Gatsby take the cake, and we absolutely love the campaign for Campari starring the lovely actress Eva Green. Try scouring vintage and thrift shops for aged beauties from the era. Or if you're feeling more daytime summery, lightweight feminine cotton dresses can also fit the bill. For previous lawn parties we've worked with clients to revamp their vintage finds: dresses in silk + cotton gingham as well as a pretty floral print.
Nicole Lenzen handmade lace & silk headband paired with a vintage dress - photo by Sarah Joj Tester
Mind Your Head
The headpiece played a role as an extension of a hairstyle in the '20s. What that means: Feel free to keep your 'do simple—a few waves and finger curls should do the trick—and compliment it with a flapper-style headband that was popular towards the end of the decade. If you are one of those DIY-inclined ladies, try using a plain headband or scarf and adding your own adornments to match your outfit. Or if you prefer a hat or fascinator, NYC milliner Gretchen Fenston has gorgeous jazz age-inspired creations. Otherwise a floppy woven hat is perfect for a hot summer's day full of drinking and dancing.
This is a given. Whether you decide to go for a more modern look and pair your favorite pair of lace-ups with your get-up or an era-appropriate pair of crescent-tipped heels, make sure you won't end up nursing blisters halfway through the festivities. If it's a pair of '20s inspired shoes you're hunting for, look for a pair that features an ankle or t-strap (great for dancing!); low, chunky heels; or an oxford for a menswear inspired look. Finding a local pair might be the quickest, but Modcloth has a great selection of era-inspired shoes, as well as Remix and American Duchess for quality vintage repro.
Milliner Gretchen Fenston in her own creation - photo by Voon Chew
Feminine Accessories, Bold Lips
A string of pearls can go a long way. Toss a few around your neck or on your wrists for a feminine touch that won't take away from the rest of your outfit. Bonus: Playing up the nude colors of your accessories allows for a bold, red lip—which is always the best way to cap the perfect outfit. Read more
July 8, 2014 - Comments Off on Meet the Eva Collection: Feminine, Tailored Dresses and Separates with Vintage-Inspired Details
Feminine details, vintage-inspired charm, and an all-over elegant silhouette is a given with the new Eva Collection. As always, the styles focus on keeping you put-together, no matter what the day throws your way. Whether you've got a bike ride commute followed up with an important client meeting or an impromptu happy hour get-together, we've got a pleated neckline, peplum or pocket (and much, much more) to keep you looking lovely no matter how hard you work.
Today's office dress code may be leaning a little on the casual side, but women still deserve to look and feel great during the day while stepping it up style-wise. Finding that perfect place between power suit and sundress, the Eva Collection is redefining modern work wear by introducing an elegant, feminine style that'll keep you feeling empowered.
But don't just take our word for it. We showed off the collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week and Lindy Focus XII. Keep your eyes out for our versatile new styles being worn the way they're meant to be worn—on the move.
May 19, 2014 - Comments Off on Fashion Show at Frankie Manning Centennial
Sunday May 25
9pm (doors open at 8pm)
610 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019
We are really looking forward to participating in a fashion show this Sunday during Frankie 100 weekend! Over 2500 dancers from 47 countries are descending on NYC for five days to celebrate the life and achievements of legendary Lindy Hopper Frankie Manning, who would be turning 100 years old.
Frankie was one of the original dancers of the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, who then went on to lead and choreograph multiple dance troupes, and perform in several feature films. After serving in the army during WWII, Frankie settled down as a family man and postal worker for 30 years. It wasn't until the 1980s during the swing dancing revival that Frankie was brought back to his glory. I was lucky enough to take a weekend of workshops from Frankie in Oakland, CA in 2000, during my first foray with Lindy Hop.
In the spirit of the evolution of the dance, the fashion show will display vintage looks from the 1920s-40s, along with contemporary designers inspired by the various eras. We'll be showing a selection of styles from the Nicole Lenzen Eva Collection - elegant, feminine silhouettes designed and tailored for movement, channeling vintage inspiration through a modern design eye.
We are excited to share the stage with menswear designer Chloe Hong traveling in from Korea, as well as additional talented clothing and accessories designers and vintage collectors. After the show we plan to dance the night away to Gordon Webster supported by not one - but two - bands, and countdown to Frankie's 100th.
We hope to see you at the show!
March 5, 2014 - Comments Off on New York Fashion Week 2014 Eva Collection Runway Show
Check out the video from New York Fashion Week featuring our runway show and special backstage footage! It was fantastic showing our new Eva Collection to a full house at the beautiful Alvin Ailey Studios, and supporting the Catwalk NY 2014 HIV/AIDS benefit.
The Eva collection features feminine and elegant silhouettes that channel vintage inspiration through a modern design eye. Designed and tailored for movement, the versatile collection is ethically produced in New York City from fair-trade and performance silks. We will be introducing new styles regularly in our online shop.
We were fortunate to collaborate with jewelry designer Vanessa Maldonado, videographer Maya Oren, and DJ Sonny Choo. Thank you also to photographers Nina Galicheva and Brad Kellogg for capturing so many lovely moments, and everyone else involved in the production!
January 28, 2014 - Comments Off on New York Fashion Week 2014 Events
We are excited to introduce the new Eva collection during New York Fashion Week! The collection features feminine and elegant silhouettes that channel vintage inspiration through a modern design eye. Designed and tailored for movement, the versatile collection is ethically produced in New York City from fair-trade and performance silks.
FASHION WEEK EVENTS
We are thrilled to participate in New York Fashion Week with a Runway Show, Pop-Up Shop and special Trunk Show. Our collection is currently available for sale during a two-week popup. Stop by during regularly scheduled open hours to try styles on, or meet the designer and learn more about the brand during an evening trunk show! The collection will also be modeled in a runway show benefiting HIV/AIDS, alongside other designers including Project Runway contestant Nathaniel Paul.
LAUNCH NYC POP-UP SHOP
January 28 - February 12
Mon - Sat: 11:30am - 7:30pm / Sun: 12 - 6pm
Launch NYC at MNY55
55 West 17th St. New York, NY 10011
Wednesday, January 29: 6 - 8pm
Sunday, February 9th: 6pm
Catwalk New York 2014: A benefit for HIV/AIDS
Alvin Ailey Studios
405 West 55th St. New York, NY 10019
TRUNK SHOW – MEET THE DESIGNER
Monday, February 10th: 5 -8 pm
Launch NYC at MNY55
55 West 17th St. New York, NY 10011
December 23, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Bubble Dress
by Lisa Viet
The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection takes us through an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes conveyed by dresses inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing.
After the Elena dress and the Mariposa dress, we now introduce the original design that inspired the entire Candy Collection: the Bubble Dress. Drawing from the playful airiness of bubble gum, the dress silhouette is feminine, flattering and fun.
The quintessential Candy dress
As the first dress design that led to the entire Candy Collection, the Bubble dress draws inspiration from bubble gum and candy that will transport you into a whimsical world of fun and play. From the candy ribbon folds of the belt to the lightness of the skirt, the sweet Bubble Dress is perfectly delicious.
This playful hourglass silhouette has a sleeveless bodice and flattering boat neckline. The bubble hem provides just the right amount of fullness while the sheen of the silk accentuates the natural movement of the skirt. Read more