while I have been sitting at home in bed with my leg up (after my operation on friday) I have had a lot of time to play around on the internet and earlier today I stumbled across this interview with one of my favourite designers Katie Ermilio, it has been sourced from www.young-sophisticates.com and i hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.
What was the first article of clothing that you ever designed?
The first piece I ever designed? I can’t remember exactly because I’ve been designing since I was little. My favorite thing as a child was making my own paper dolls and all of their clothes, so I suppose I was designing before I ever really knew it? But the first piece of clothing that I designed and had made was a mint green baby doll dress that I wore to my eighth grade dinner dance. I sketched it out, selected the fabric, and worked with my father’s seamstress to have it made.
Fashion design is literally in your genes. You are the fourth-generation fashion designer in your family. Did you always know you would grow up to follow in the family footsteps?
Surprisingly no. In fact I didn’t even consider design as a part of my future, though I always knew fashion would be. For as long as I can remember I wanted to work in magazines – I love art, writing, typography, graphic design and of course clothes – so I saw fashion magazines as medium that married my interests and went forth to pursue a career in publishing.
What is it like to be the first woman in your family to carry the design torch?
It’s so exciting. I can’t imagine anyone happier than me that the Ermilio name and legacy will live on in my work. I’m also so thrilled to be giving the company new life here in New York – while I am a native Philadelphian – my maternal grandmother grew up on Washington Square downtown. Her father (my Great Grandfather, Leopold Porrino) established an insurance agency here in the city that is still in operation. He was good friends with LaGuardia, so there is a huge part of New York in the Ermilio story.
Do you consciously try to incorporate elements from your family’s designs, or are they just inherently there? In other words, is there one Ermilio style, or is it different from generation to generation?
There’s certainly a distinct Ermilio style which naturally finds it’s way into my work. This notion of chic gentrified apparel with a relaxed sensibility is a mainstay of my aesthetic (as well as my father’s and grandfather’s.)
Was style something you learned, like a trade or an art, or was it something that was more or less absorbed by osmosis by being around your grandfather and father?
My style is complete osmosis, as is my design sensibility. Everything I know about clothes I learned from my father’s shop and spending much of my young life around tailors, fittings, and him. He and my grandfather are both the best-dressed men I have ever known. Of course, as a young girl to me it this was all second nature because the clothing world was my life, and now as a young adult I reflect back on my childhood and can appreciate where my knowledge comes from.
Other than designing clothing, what are your most artistic or creative hobbies?
Some people are surprised to learn that I paint, and I’ve always loved art – so going to museums and galleries is a favorite pastime of mine.
What habits have you cultivated as you design? Do you listen to music? Do you like a certain environment? Have you developed any quirks to start the process?
My design process can originate from anywhere and I really never know when an idea is going to strike me. I find that my best work (or at least my favorite pieces) are organically inspired. I don’t really sit down and set aside time to design. Rather, I let the mood strike me and go from there. It’s funny – some days I can’t fall in love with any of my drawings and on others I won’t be able to turn the ideas off.
What kind of a woman do you design for? If you were asked to design a one-of-a-kind dress (or other piece of clothing) for anybody, who would you like her to be?
I would like to think that design aesthetic marries a sense of timelessness and modernity. My clients span generations in their age range, so I consciously try to create garments that defy limitations when it comes to a woman’s age.
Are there certain colors or details or fabrics or patterns that you find yourself drawn to over and over again?
As far as palettes go I love neutrals, and more specifically different shades, textures and variations of ivories, creams and whites. I also gravitate towards luxe fabrics as I use them to re-interpret staple pieces (such as blazers, straight leg trousers and shorts).
My family legacy in menswear certainly has the most prominent influence on my work. I’m constantly blending and juxtaposing traditionally masculine pieces with feminine silhouettes. I find the unwavering tradition in classic menswear so beautiful and I reference it time and again in my clothes.
What’s your own personal style? What do you wear on a day-to-day basis?
My sense of dress definitely has a timeless feel. I’m a bit of a tomboy – always mixing clean classics with feminine accents. Growing up in the world of tailoring taught me everything I know about proper proportion and fit, so that’s something that’s become ingrained in my personal style.
On a daily basis, I wear blazers, slouchy tees and Chanel ballet flats. And my shorts from the Fall 2010 Collection are a staple in many of my outfits. I wear them constantly.
How do you think your family’s history has influenced your career? Has it been a burden or a blessing?
My family history nurtured my aesthetic and gave me an outlet to create, and without that I can’t really say whether or not I would have ever discovered my love for design.
My dad is an expert on equestrian apparel, fit and proper dress and he consulted and created jodhpurs for Maggie Norris’s 2001 Collection. There was a presentation at Bergdorf Goodman and I was given a seat at the show. It was my first fashion show of any kind, and my very first taste of runway. I have seen my dad in action for countless fittings, but this was really special and it left a lasting impression on me.