Fashion events can be intimating for those outside the industry, so in partnering with Mindy Raf to produce Stories & Style, we created a new format to celebrate style in a more accessible way – a fashion trunk show with a comedic spin.
In addition to shopping, cocktails, and snacks, the crowd was treated to a fashion-themed storytelling show featuring Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's Ask Me Another, and Elna Baker of This American Life.
Fashion companies often rely heavily on celebrity endorsement for brand awareness, creating a buzz on social media but seldom converting followers into real customers (unfortunately the knock-offs typically reach the market sooner and for much cheaper than the original designer items).
Rather than pushing a new disposable trend on a famous face, the timeless Nicole Lenzen collection celebrates the real women wearing the pieces, who each make the styles their own. With a design focus on a flattering cuts and fabrics that function, getting potential customers into the clothes to experience that attention to fit and comfort is critical.
Having storytellers like Ophira and Elna perform gave the night a communal energy that you don’t experience at most fashion events. Being able to laugh at yourself, and find the joy in fashion was exactly what the night was all about.
As part of our pre-event promotion, we wanted to give our invitees a deeper look into the personalities and humor of our storytelling guests, so we gave them a throwback assignment of sorts, one that looks very familiar if you grew up with those handy-dandy packets called Mad Libs:
Elna Baker - Writer/Comedian
Elna Baker is a writer and comedian whose book The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance was published by Penguin. As a comedian and storyteller, Elna has performed with The Moth, on This American Life, Studio 360, Radiolab, BBC Radio 4, at the Upright Citizens Brigade, The PIT, The Magnet and at many other venues throughout New York City.
A taste of Elna's replies to our "Mad Libs":
- I can’t leave home without sending a messenger pigeon out first to alert the world of my coming.
- When I wanna dance I listen to The Cure. When I need to cry I listen to my creaking ovaries.
- The best compliment I’ve ever gotten was, shortly after losing weight, “You look sick. Is everything okay?"
- My favorite thing to do for myself is to walk over subway grates in stilettos while quoting Urkle from Family Matters.
- Fran Lebowitz is the most empowering woman I know.
- Fedora, Beret, Beanie, or Top Hat? Top Hat.
- At parties I try to stand right next tothe bouncy castle.
Ophira Eisenberg - Writer/Host of NPR’s Ask Me Another
Ophira Eisenberg is standup comic, writer, and host of NPR’s weekly trivia, puzzle, and game show “Ask Me Another.” She has appeared on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Comedy Central,” “VH-1,” and is a regular host and storyteller with The Moth. “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy” (Seal Press/April 2013) is her first book.
A taste of Ophira's replies to our "Mad Libs":
- I can’t leave home without red lipstick.
- My go-to clothing item is a sequin top. Unless it’s dirty, then I wear a dirty sequin top.
- When I feel most confident I look in the mirror and say, "it’s better than I thought."
- The strangest compliment I’ve ever gotten was, "I can tell by looking at you that you live in a fifth floor walk up. Keep it up."
- My favorite thing to do for myself is cancel everything on my schedule.
- Rachel Maddow is the most empowering woman I know.
- At parties I try to stand right next to the cheese cubes.
#DressSuccess Twitter Chat
To get the #StoriesandStyle conversation going before the event, we invited a bunch of the most empowering and entertaining women we know to share their style, stories, and fashion confessions on Twitter. We encouraged everyone to tweet their style advice, outfit blunders, favorite ensembles, most embarrassing fashion moments, and more, using the hashtags #DressConfess and #StoriesandStyle.
Breaking down dressing room barriers
While putting yourself on display trying on clothes at a fashion event (in the middle of winter I might add) is not every woman's idea of a confidence booster, we created a "warm" and empowering environment at Stories & Styles so all attendees shone with pride in their new items. As the designer, I was on hand to provide any fit or style guidance, happily witnessing shrieks of joy erupt from the dressing rooms. Shoppers were also encouraged to continue sharing #StoriesandStyle by posting photos of themselves in pieces from the Nicole Lenzen collection.
Not your typical fashion event
Throughout the night, guests laughed with Ophira about bad haircuts and vacation style and nodded in agreement as Elna spoke about "the kind of beautiful" she wanted to become. It was clear it wasn't your typical fashion event. Many attendees went home with a new Nicole Lenzen piece (or more), and we considered the event a smashing success.
“It’s not every day you get dressed by a designer for a storytelling show, and Nicole’s dress fit perfectly - it flattered, swung with the drama, and flowed with the comedy. I felt beautiful, even when talking about a terribly ugly post-breakup haircut.”
- Ophira Eisenberg, Writer/Host of NPR’s Ask Me Another