Category Archives: interview

frugal fashion tips: glam your look with gorjana (and a discount!)

it’s no secret that gorjana is one of my favorite jewelry lines. every season, they never fail to debut pieces that are gorgeous, unique, and completely wearable. i get endless compliments on every piece of gorjana i own, and they’re unfailingly the styles that are in heaviest rotation from my jewelry box.

their holiday collection is no exception, and with pennies being pinched by all of us, i love the idea of picking up a stunning new piece of jewelry to help you update a holiday look that’s already in your closet. their olive leaf necklace, for example, is a perfect statement piece – it’s gorgeous alone or paired with a strand of longer beads (i love it with my dean harris quartz necklace).  

but the piece that has barely left my neck since arriving is that lovely silver sand coin necklace above.  at 40″ long, this piece is just amazingly wearable.  i’ve worn it as a single strand, i’ve doubled it over, and i’ve even shortened it by fastening the clasp behind one of the coins, so that part of the necklace dangles down the back.  for dressier occasions, try doubling it and layering with a classic pearl strand, or leave it long for a simple, classic statement with all black.  however you wear it, it’s amazing.

to put a little icing on the proverbial cake, i thought i’d ask gorjana, the owner and designer of the line, to share some tips on accessorizing for holiday affairs. her advice:

Making sure not to over-accessorize is key when it comes to jewelry, especially for more formal events such as holiday parties. The combinations I usually stick to are a great pair of statement earrings with a stack of varying bangles, or a great necklace with a simple earrings and a cocktail style ring.

Don’t be afraid to mix metals. The holidays are all about sparkle and shine, so I love to stack up my gold and silver bangles for a more dramatic look.

It’s simple to update your jewelry ensemble with a new piece that you can layer with all your favorites. I love our Olive Necklace because it easily compliments my shorter, personal necklaces that I wear every day, and also my wraps that I throw on for an evening out.

as a little extra treat, gorjana is kindly giving shoppingsmycardio readers 25% off the entire site through wed 12/17.  just use code SHOPPINGSMYCARDIO at checkout!

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SMC interviews: lauren moffatt

i have been so excited to introduce this latest interview!  lauren moffatt is one of the hottest contemporary designers in fashion right now – her looks are coveted by everyone from cameron diaz to sofia bush, and with good reason.  lauren has an amazing ability to design pieces that are both relaxed and sophisticated, and completely unlike anything else out there.  i jumped at the chance to chat with her, and find out exactly what makes this superstar designer tick!

ShoppingsMyCardio:  How did you get started in fashion?  Tell us your story!  

Lauren Moffatt:  For as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to getting up in the morning and figuring out what I was going to wear.  I began making clothes when what I wanted wasn’t in the marketplace.

SMC:  I have to ask – I’ve heard that you once lived on a boat?  There must be a story there – I’d love to hear how that came about, and how it’s influenced you (if at all!).   

LM:  I did!  I lived on a sailboat in the Hudson River.  It was such a fun time of my life, and really enabled me, financially, to start the business.  The laid-back, bohemian lifestyle definitely influenced my aesthetic.  

SMC:  Your designs are incredibly popular with the celebrity set – do you design with that group in mind?

LM:  I don’t.  I design for myself.  Luckily, the pieces speak for themselves, and have become popular with stylists and celebrities.

SMC:  I love your designs because I think you have a really strong point of view.  Can you tell us a little about where your designs are coming from, and who your ideal customer is?  Are you designing for a certain woman, or a lifestyle, or something else entirely?   

LM:  I design things that I would like to wear.  They are effortless-looking, while still being special.  I never like looking too “put together,” and our collection reflects that.  Our customers are women who value not wearing something everyone else has.  They mix old with new, messy with neat, and the outcome is just a cool look.  

SMC:  When you actually sit down to design, what do you need around you to be creative?  

LM:  A cup of tea!

SMC:  Tell us about your fall collection – what are some of the key styles you’re most excited about, and what’s your favorite piece from the fall line?

LM:  The high-waisted skirt, the boyfriend blazer and the ladylike minidress are all great silhouettes for fall.  My favorite piece has to be our long wool military coat!

SMC:  I’d love a little sneak peek at spring trends – can you give us an idea of what to expect from your line?

LM:  A lot of gray, with pops of bright color.  Also, you’ll see short silhouettes, but more body-conscious looks.

SMC:  Other than your own designs, what are your three favorite items in your closet right now?

LM:  A fabulous Stella McCartney dress, a pair of perfect vintage Levi’s, and a hand-printed silk scarf from a New York flea market.

SMC:  If you could design for any person, living or not, who would you choose?

LM:  Kate Moss

SMC:  What one style secret do you wish you could teach every woman out there

LM:  Accessories make the biggest difference in your look.  It’s so important not to over-accessorize, but what a great scarf, or bangle, or even just a fabulous pair of earrings will do for your outfit is huge.

SMC:  Last, a few easy ones:

  • Eggs or waffles?  Eggs (but Benedict!)
  • Polaroid or digital?  I’d love to say Polaroid, it’s so much more romantic, but digital.
  • High tea or happy hour?  Definitely high tea.
  • Shorts or skirts?  Skirts
  • Go out or stay in?  Go out!!

lauren, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us and share a few fashion secrets! you can check out lauren’s entire fall line at her website, or shop styles online at shopbop!

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SMC interview & collection preview: rebecca minkoff!

that’s right – the amazingly talented designer, rebecca minkoff, very kindly took some time out of her busy day to tell all of us about her exciting new collection for fall ’08, as well as to share some more of her fantastic tips on fashion and design!  she also graciously granted us a sneak peek at her fall collection…and trust me, you’re going to want to see this!  just click “read the rest of this entry” below, and check it out!

Read on

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shoppingsmycardio interviews: le train bleu

dear readers, today i’d like to introduce one of the true stylemakers: bria of le train bleu. her store (both the online site and the “real” version, located in portland, oregon) is positively notorious in the world of fashion for epitomizing that rare talent of mixing the best of upcoming trends with timeless, unique pieces. any true fashion addict has bria’s gorgeous finds for le train bleu at the forefront of her fashion radar. bria was kind enough to offer to guide us through some of her favorite styles, trends, and advice, and i’m thrilled to share it with you.

shoppingsmycardio: i have to start by gushing a little – i just love le train bleu. you do such a great job of picking really wearable pieces that are still so unique, and i love that you manage to mix in vintage and a few key home accessories as well, without making the store feel disorganized at all. how did you come up with the concept for the store? 

le train bleu: Ah, thanks – that totally makes my day. The homewares, apothecary, and vintage selections are fairly new and just stages in a long evolution. It’s a little known fact but Le Train Bleu actually started as an activewear store, albeit a very eclectic and eccentric one. I started out selling activewear as fashion. We had a lot of dancewear – high-fashion legwarmers (there was a terrific company called Dosty that we couldn’t keep in stock), cool dancewear imported from a company in Italy called Dimensione Danza. You can see a vestige of these roots on the site now if you look closely: we still sell leotards!

SMC: you have a knack for finding designs (and designers, for that matter) that really are “up and coming” – your shoppers get the high fashion look without necessarily the high fashion price tag. how do you decide what pieces and designers to stock?

LTB: It’s very instinctual—I buy whatever makes my heart race. I’ve gotten smarter about it though as I’ve gone along. I do make a concerted effort to have a range of prices. There are some surprises in regards to price though: my core customer is not very hampered by price and it’s not because they’re rolling in dough. It’s a very small niche market of people who are hard-core fashion collectors. They are the trendsetters and will scrimp and save and blow half their paycheck on a pair of high-waist jeans from Australia, because they just have to have them. This means that I can just as easily sell a $600 dress as a $60 pair of boots. It just has to be the right dress. The right boots too, for that matter.

SMC: tell me what trends you’re most excited about for fall ’08.

LTB: Midi hemlengths! I am shocked by how hard it is to find a skirt or dress that falls anywhere below the knee right now but for Fall we’ll have some more options: I’m very excited by the Tibi collection. And the color red—I can’t get enough.

SMC: what trends from last year are you counting on to stick around, and which pieces should we send to goodwill?

LTB: I guess I think more in terms of moods and stories than trends. I would be heartbroken to know that my customers were casting off things they had purchased one season earlier from Le Train Bleu—that runs totally contrary to what I feel about clothes. For me, clothes become dear friends and we might have periods in our lives where we fall in and out of each other’s lives (I do have some things in boxes that I’m not wearing right now, but I know in a year or two they’ll be back in my closet).

SMC: if a woman wanted to choose one special piece to update her wardrobe right now, what would you point her toward?

LTB: A trench coat is timeless and ageless and there’s one for everyone. I think a little structured tailoring is always cool and flattering.

SMC: what are your 3 favorite pieces in store right now?

LTB: On my shopping list right now would be the Speak Easy candle (vapors of gin, pipe tobacco and wood), The Vera Blouse from the Australian line Fleur Wood (very me – a slightly 1970s style via the 1940s in an amazing print and color), and the Bianca Dress from Heidi Merrick (her dresses are so well tailored).

SMC: what is your favorite piece of clothing (or accessory) that you’re wearing today?

LTB: Well, it’s morning and I’m still at home in my ritual of answering emails and drinking my coffee. I’m wearing my beloved cotton Thai fisherman’s trousers.

SMC: tell us about your favorite, never-fail outfit.

LTB: A wrap-around skirt, a very slim cut printed blouse (I love the 70s cut again, lean through the torso and cut high in the armhole) and a pair of heeled boots. If it’s cold, a really tailored great wool coat.

SMC: what one style secret do you wish you could teach every woman out there?

LTB: Relish the choices we have and when the marketplace offers up a style that is perfectly you, stock up. I haven’t worn a babydoll dress or a pair of skinny jeans in my life because they don’t suit me at all but I have been taking full advantage of the high-waist styles that have been offered in the last few years, because that style works well for my body type and my personal style, being a lover of the ’70s silhouette.

bria, thank you so much! i know you’ve given me loads of new ideas for my wardrobe, and can’t tell you how much i appreciate your taking the time to share your advice with all of us!

oh, and for those who are now lusting after everything on the le train bleu website, you might recall from my last le train bleu post that they currently have a lucky mag discount code for 25% off, good through june 1. use code luckybreaks1 at checkout!

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shoppingsmycardio interviews: design*sponge, part 2

as promised, here is part two of the interview we did with the lovely and talented grace bonney, of design*sponge. she has loads more wonderful tips, tricks and words of wisdom to help us all demystify the world of home design.

(photo of grace’s lovely home, courtesy of d*s)

shoppingsmycardio: with all of the time you spend scoping out new designers, pieces, and artists, how do you restrain yourself from buying one of everything? i guess what i’m asking is, budget aside, what keeps your style consistent?

design*sponge: The nice thing about running the site is that it feels like the things I’ve covered are actually in my home. I know that sounds totally cheesy, but I set up the site to feel, for me at least, like my own personal inspiration board. I even wanted the background of the site to feel like a neutral backdrop on which I could post new colors, fabrics and pieces that I could enjoy for a day or two and then let go. It’s like window shopping without having to actually go anywhere.

In terms of consistency, my style actually isn’t all that consistent – it’s always changing and morphing as seasons change and trends come and go. I tend to always go for something classic and feminine but the details are always different. I think that’s pretty true of a lot of my readers though – we all have a base style we feel comfortable with and add and subtract details on top of that style to fit our moods.

(mixed media, by amy ruppel)

SMC: it can be so daunting to start an art collection – and especially now, with sites like etsy and 20×200, affordable art is everywhere. it’s a good problem to have, but i think a lot of people have a hard time narrowing the field, and being selective. do you have any words of wisdom for younger people that are interested in starting to collect art?

DS: I’m definitely starting to focus on artwork more and more these days. I used to care more about furniture but with the economy being what it is, I can’t really afford to buy big pieces of furniture anymore – so I find myself focusing on prints, small collages and paintings. But when it comes to editing a personal collection I think that it’s something only the collector can decide. Artwork grabs people for different reasons so it’s tough to suggest ways to be selective.

That said, I always suggest that, rather than buying up multiple $25 prints from a popular artist (that everyone else on Etsy can buy), people save up that $25 for a few months and try commissioning a small, custom piece from that artist. It’s a great way to have something one-of-a-kind without totally breaking your budget. Those are the pieces that mean most to me in my home.

(oil on canvas, by zoe pawlak)

SMC: i’m particularly impressed by your ability to pick out artists early on in their careers that are destined for success – jen garrido is an example that comes to mind. who would you say are some of your “artists to watch” right now?

DS: Oh man, there are always so many artists I’m enjoying and trying to soak up before they become so popular I can’t afford them any more. I guess in terms of fine art I’m really loving Zoe Pawlak and Chelsea James right now. And even though Julia Rothman is totally a design star now I still think she hasn’t even begun to have the sort of visibility she’ll have in the next few years. I have my eyes firmly planted on her. She’s wildly talented, incredibly sweet and I think she’s going to be huge. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see big, national companies wooing her in the coming months/years.

(image courtesy of jonathan adler)

SMC: home design can feel really overwhelming for most people – i think it’s hard for most of us to translate the fabulous ideas we see into something concrete and workable, but still our own. individual pieces, or even entire rooms designed by other people might sing to us, but how do you translate those inspiration items into an overall aesthetic, so that you don’t just end up with clutter?

DS: Man, if I had a short answer to that question I’d be a genius. But sadly I’m pretty ‘green’ when it comes to creating an overall aesthetic. Because my style is always changing I’m in a constant struggle to keep things less jumbled, but ultimately I think that’s okay for now – I’m young, I’m sort of all over the place when it comes to life and projects and style, so right now my home reflects that. But I’m sure as I settle down and mature a bit more my style will become more refined.

In more general terms though, I think it’s always great to stick to simple, classic pieces when it comes to big furniture and let smaller decorative accessories like pillows, lampshades, etc. do the talking when you want something fun and different in a room. Those can easily be sold or gifted when you’re ready to try something new and they won’t leave you with a heavy, expensive piece of furniture that feels dated.

(image courtesy of d*s)

SMC: if you weren’t writing design*sponge, what would you be doing for a living? do you have a “back-up” dream job?

DS: I’ve got a few, but they all involve food. I’d love to go to culinary school just to learn and then go work at a specialty food shop. There’s no way I could handle the heat of a professional kitchen (literally and figuratively) but I love food too much to ignore that side of me forever.

SMC: what one design tip do you wish you could teach everyone out there?

DS: Right now it would be to focus on quality pieces and let accessories do the trend-talking. When it comes down to it, we’re all on some sort of budget so it makes sense to stick to classic pieces that won’t go in and out of style quickly and leave the fun, trendy purchases to small things like lighting and pillows. Those smaller, less-expensive pieces will let you play with color and pattern without maxing out your credit card.

i’d like to extend a really huge thank you to grace for taking the time to talk with us. she’s a busy, busy lady these days, between the incredible success of design*sponge, her new gig as a contributing editor at domino magazine (my all-time favorite mag, by the way), and the zillions of other projects she’s always working on. if d*s isn’t already in your top blog reads, i hope you’ll change that soon – it’s really a fab and inspirational site!

(ps…if you missed the first half of the interview, catch it here!)

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shoppingsmycardio interviews: design*sponge

for those who aren’t familiar, grace bonney is the editor and founder of design*sponge, the ultimate resource for all things new, stylish and fabulous in the world of home design and accessories. she’s also a contributing editor for domino magazine. so, in a nutshell, she’s amazing.

i am positively addicted to her site – it’s the first place i check for inspiration whenever i’m ready for some changes to the home decor at casa SMC, whether it’s a fabulous new serving piece for my upcoming soiree, a new piece of art, or a complete room remodel.

grace is such a sweetheart that she very kindly offered to share some of her expertise and advice with all of us. i loved her answers so much that i’m actually splitting the interview across two days – it’s just too much good information for one post. so, look for the second half later this week. and now, without further adieu…

SMC: I think it’s pretty safe to call you the queen of design blogging – design*sponge is such an amazing resource for so many people! Can you give us an idea of how design*sponge came to be? Did it begin through your work with one of the many magazines you’ve written for, or was it more of a personal outlet? 

design*sponge: Well, I wouldn’t call myself the queen of anything – except maybe queen of ‘America’s Next Top Model marathon watching’. Design*Sponge has always been such a fun project to call my “job” and I’m just happy that people are still reading and enjoying it.

When I started things in 2004 I was just trying to find a personal outlet for my endless design chatter (my boyfriend could really only handle so much). I tested out a lot of formats and styles and ended up settling on a product-focused blog with occasional personal mentions, because that represented me at the time. But as I’ve changed changed and grown up a bit more I’ve tried to move away from that format and focus on evergreen content- pieces that will be pertinent months or even years down the line (like city guides, product guides, diy projects and home tours). The magazine work was just a really lucky offshoot of the site- it started with a few newspaper pieces and lead to a 2-year stint at House & Garden Magazine. Now I’m a contributing editor at Domino and enjoying having a place to write outside of Design*Sponge.

SMC: Your email inbox must just be a treasure trove of great ideas. What is the most fantastic piece you’ve seen this week?

DS: Oh man, right now I’m so far behind on my email I don’t even know. The good and bad thing about being a one-woman-show (in terms of email and day-to-day operations) is that I have to answer several hundred detailed emails a day. 75-100 of those will be emails with a zip file full of home photos asking for a personalized list of suggestions, a few hundred will be small product requests (great sofa under $500? Dining table in hot pink?), a few dozen will be assignments and correspondence regarding projects we’re working on at the site and then 150-200 of those will be submissions. I love answering everyone’s emails personally but I can fall behind pretty quickly so this week I’ve barely dipped into the submission folder. I did see a few great additions to the ShopSCAD online shop, some new cards from Blue Ribbon Letterpress and some great new furniture makeovers from Knack Design.

SMC: How would you describe your personal design style? And can you translate that into a few key pieces that you have in your house now?

DS: Right now? Chaos. My home is in flux right now and always represents where my head is at the moment. With site projects and wedding planning coming up I’m a big mess of ideas so my house is a big mess of ideas. But right now I think I’m starting to embrace a bit more traditional style with an emphasis on strong wooden furniture and feminine patterns. I’d love to go for a modern-day Dorothy Draper look if I could but I don’t think I could pull it off. I think I’m perpetually the girl who wants to be classy and cool but always ends up a little frazzled.

SMC: One of my biggest design challenges is budget, and another is time. If I had my way, I’d just gut my house and do things exactly the way I want them, from top to bottom. But, of course, that’s not reality for most of us. What sort of baby steps do you start with when you want to start making changes? Say, for example, that you had $100 to spend – what would you do? What about $500?

DS: I guess it really depends on your needs – but I know that’s not a fun answer. If I had $100, honestly I’d save it up and get that to around $500 or $1,000 and then tackle a room makeover. I’m trying to focus on encouraging people to invest in nicer pieces so they end up throwing away fewer pieces each year.

That said, if you have $100, I’d suggest hitting the flea market or thrift shop where you could find a chair, chandelier or maybe even a great dining room table that just needs a little paint/fabric love to give it a facelift. Re-habbing old furniture is a great way to stretch a tight budget.

SMC: If you had to design an entire house, from furniture to knick-knacks, using just 3 online sources, what would you choose? (I know, it’s torture…)

DS: Off the top of my head: Shop SCAD, Orange (a vintage store in LA) and Heath Ceramics. I’m trying to combine crafty with vintage but keep things simple.

SMC: What are your favorite, no-fail home decor tricks to employ when you’re really stuck for ideas?

DS: That’s an easy one – I turn to my trusty staplegun. I have a huge collection of fabric I keep in my utility closet and when I’m bored I redo the seat cushions on my desk chair or any small seats/stools that are easy to swap out. I also love to use gift wrap as impromptu wallpaper in unexpected places like door molding and inside cabinets or drawers.

a huge thank you to the fabulous design*sponge for all of this fabulous advice, and stay tuned for the rest of this interview later this week – grace gave loads of wonderful advice for buying art and restyling your own home.

(ps…i just want to point out that that last tip is a truly fabulous one…i never realized how easy it was to reupholster a chair until i just stopped being scared and tried it. now i’m addicted!)

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shoppingsmycardio interviews: reform school

from my first visit to reform school‘s outstanding website, i knew i was going to be spending a lot of time there. the site boasts a truly unique mix of art, home decor, books, paper goods, fashion accessories…i could go on and on.

reform school started out as a brick & mortar store in the los angeles area, but owners billie and tootie quickly found there was such tremendous demand for their wares that they set up the website, and it’s been uphill ever since.

one of my very favorite qualities about the site, in addition to the dozens of fabulous things i never knew i needed but suddenly can’t live without, is their ‘student of the month’ series. the owners collaborate with well-known or up-and-coming artists to develop a limited-edition print that is only available through reform school, and is priced to make the work of these amazing artists affordable for anyone. i recently picked up this amazing print by jen garrido (her first print, actually), of whom i’ve been a longtime fan.

there are literally so many things i want to show you all that this post would be ridiculous if i wrote them all up. so, i’m just going to post pictures along with the interview. just click the pics, and enjoy what billie and tootie had to say – they’re just fantastic people!

shoppingsmycardio: i would love to know how you and your partner came up with the concept for this store – i don’t think there’s anything else like it out there. can you tell me a little about how you decide what makes it onto the shelves, and what the overall concept/inspiration is?

reform school: Basically the concept came from our love of several different things…handmade contemporary crafts, sustainable design and independent art and artists. We thought they fused well together and they were all related on some level. Our focus is obviously one of reused or recycled materials. Simply, what makes it onto our shelves are items we find unique and that we would enjoy in our own homes or lives. As partners, we’re always bouncing product ideas off one another and most of the time we’re on the same page. However, if one feels really strongly about something and the other may not be so into it…we trust eachothers instinct to at least give it a shot. So far this has worked out really well for us.

SMC: do you buy one of everything you stock? i’m not sure i’d be able to stop myself!

RS: We’ve learned to control ourselves a bit on ordering but still have a way to go. It’s definitely a huge perk.

SMC: what are your top 3 favorite items on the site right now?

RS: Always the Student of the Month. It’s just very personal to us. It means alot to us that these artists are willing to create something exclusively for ReForm School. We both love the Ayumi Horie pottery, Yu-i Chen scarves, We Are So Good Together print, and of course the Treeblock Treehouse and building blocks for kids. Okay, okay,…so that more than three, but really…we could keep going on and on!

SMC: are there any areas of the site you’d like to expand on in the near future?

RS: Yes, we plan to add bigger items such furniture and it’s always a thrill to discover up and coming artists whose work hasn’t been seen anywhere else. (Such as Yu-i Chen…..she’s unbelievable!) We’re constantly working on more exclusives with different artists and companies.

SMC: i absolutely love the ‘student of the month’ series – can you tell us a little about how that came into being? any artists you’re working with that you could give us a sneak preview of?

RS: Obviously when you open up a shop, you want to offer something different and origianal and we are always looking for ways to work more closely with our favorite artists. The Student of the Month is a great way to keep customers interested and it certainly keep us on our tippy toes constantly seeking new artists and product for each month. Look for new work by Alyson Fox, Hammerpress, K-Studio and many more in the coming months.

SMC: normally, i’d ask about your favorite, no-fail outfit. but i’d actually like to know about your favorite, no-fail home decor tips. any words of wisdom for those of us who are desperately trying to make our homes as cool as reform school?

RS: Personally we rely on flea markets, thrifting…and the best…curbside giveaways! Any product from ReForm School would fit well with any decor Just like clothing…always invest in quality pieces. We always ask ourselves…is this something we’ll like 5-10 years from now. It’s a great way to practice sustainability.

a huge, huge thank you to billie and tootie for taking the time to chat with us.

one big ordering tip: if something you love looks “out of stock,” it’s worth checking in with the store before you dispair. they get new stock in so often, it’s entirely possible what you’re looking for is in the shop and just not up on the site yet.

ooh, and….well, let’s just say if you’re not already a daily candy deals subscriber, but you saw something you liked at reform school…well, today would be a really good day to sign up.

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shoppingsmycardio interviews: doie designs

i recently got the loveliest email from doie designs, asking me to take a look at their line of casual and loungewear. the line, made primarily from eco-friendly bamboo jersey, features loads of great basic pieces mixed with gorgeous little dresses in fabulous patterns.

doie’s fall collection is all marked down now on her site, as well as on, so it’s well worth checking out. my picks are the manzanita dress and her super-cute striped hoodie & pants, which i love so much more than most matchy-matchy loungwear.

i have to admit, though, that most of my favorite pieces are from her upcoming spring ’08 line, which should be available in april. she does have a sneak peek on her site, and it’s well worth checking out. i’m absolutely in love with the bamboo print silk top above – it’s by far my favorite piece from the line, and i’m doing some serious coveting.

anyway, i liked what i saw so well that i asked the designer, sara kirsner, to do a little Q&A with us.

shoppingsmycardio: from looking at your bio, you’ve had some pretty fabulous experiences – interning for DKNY and Marc Jacobs just have been amazing! did you always have the goal of starting your own line, or did you decide to start your line after seeing a gap in the market? i’d love to hear how you got started. 

sara kirsner: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in fashion. I used to draw mini “collections” when I was in grade school and I tried to give my friends makeovers in the fourth grade. When I decided to leave advertising and apply to Parsons School of Design, I knew that I wanted to work in fashion, but I thought that having my own line would be something that would possibly happen way down the road.

When I was working as a freelancer in the design department, at Ann Taylor, I took a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia with some friends. A friend and I had talked about starting up a loungewear line, so when I was on the trip I had a few prototypes made up in a small town full of tailors, call Hoi An. When I returned, my contract with Ann Taylor was up and I was so inspired by my trip and had so many ideas for the line, that instead of looking for a new job I threw myself head first into creating Doie. The friend that I was supposed to start the line with ended up deciding to work full time at Polo Ralph Lauren. I was petrified at first, to do it alone. I knew nothing about starting a line but I was so excited and invested, that I just kept going.

SMC: you must have had some amazing learning experiences working with all of those other designers. what did you learn from those jobs that was most valuable to you in starting your line?

SK: The internship experiences at DKNY and Marc Jacobs were very different from each other. I learned a lot from both of them, but I realized that neither environment felt like the kind of fashion that I wanted to do. Working for a huge corporation felt too impersonal and working in the high fashion runway world was also something that I didn’t feel was a good fit for me. However, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karen are my two favorite designers and no matter how hard the internships got, I was constantly in disbelief that I was actually “working” for those companies. I was able to meet both designers during my time there.

SMC: you primarily use fabrics made from bamboo – did you choose to design with bamboo fabrics because you really prefer the fabric or because you’re trying to be eco-friendly? can you tell us a little about that choice?

SK: I started out using regular cotton. After my first collection was produced, I was showing it to my friend’s mom, who also owns Vivaterra, a great website/catalogue featuring eco-lifestyle products. She loved my collection and asked if I could make a few pieces for her in a sustainable fabric such as bamboo or organic cotton. I really liked bamboo and after learning more about it I decided to continue using it for all of my future collections. My family is very environmentally conscious. It just seemed natural. After learning how environmentally disastrous cotton is, I will never go back.

Bamboo production is not completely virtuous as there are harmful chemicals used to breakdown the bamboo into fabric, but bamboo growth does not require any pesticides and is 100% sustainable. I am trying to incorporate more organic cotton and organic wool these days.

I do use bamboo because it is environmentally friendly, but I also love the feel of it! It has the softest hand and it drapes so well. Bamboo is also naturally anti-microbial, which means the fabric actually prevents bacteria from growing on it, resulting in clothing that remains odor-free longer than other fabrics.

SMC: I love that you’re not afraid to include classic, staple wardrobe pieces in your line, along with the trendier silhouettes. How do you decide what to include in each season? I’d love to learn a little about your design process.

SK: I love to be fashionable and look put together, but I have never been super trendy. I try to include pieces that will be able to be worn for more than one season. This idea of “disposable fashion” at places like H&M, and Forever 21 is great for the wallet and a fun night out, but not so great for the environment. I obviously want people to want to buy my new collection each season, but I don’t want the pieces that they already own to seem obsolete. I usually do have a few trendier items, but as you mentioned, they are mixed in with staples that can hopefully be worn for years.

SMC: what trends are you most looking forward to for spring 2008?

SK: I am excited that the dress trend is still very strong. I live in dresses!

SMC: if you had to choose one piece from your line that’s your absolute favorite, what would it be, and what do you love about it?

SK: My absolute favorite piece is the Doie signature hoodie. It may change slightly from season to season, but that is the piece that I live in. I can lounge around in it and then still wear it out to meet friends, run errands, or to the gym. The hood is lined with a printed silk, so it is a little nicer than an old sweatshirt, but just as comfortable!

SMC: what’s next for your label? are you planning to stay with your more relaxed vibe, or do you see yourself branching out into more structured pieces? any plans to branch out into bags or accessories?

SK: Doie will always be about blending style, comfort and sustainability, but the collections are starting to include dressier pieces along with the loungewear. I want to have both types of styles, because I have both of those sides to me. I am branching out this Fall and incorporating organic wool into a few pieces. I am doing my first coat and I am very excited about it.

I have thought about doing a maternity line. More and more of my friends are becoming pregnant and I would love to branch out in that direction eventually.

SMC: when you go to sleep at night, what excites you about going to work the next day?

SK: It all depends on what is going on with the line. For example, this week I have been very excited to wake up and go to the factory where my Fall samples are being made. I can walk there from my apartment. I check in every other day or so to see what they have ready. It is really exciting to see my ideas “come to life.” The main thing that I love is not knowing what the next day is going to bring. For example, this interview was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t see coming.

SMC: who would you most like to run into on the street wearing one of your designs?

SK: I would to see someone like Natalie Portman wearing my line. She is not only gorgeous, but also smart and cares about the environment. I would also love to be out to dinner, or walking down the street and see someone wearing something from my line. I have yet to see someone completely random wearing my line. That would be exciting.

SMC: i’d love to know a little more about your personal style – can you tell us about your favorite, no-fail outfit?

SK: My no-fail outfit changes from season to season, but lately it has been the Doie Juniper dress (in black) with tights and a belt, my Charmone (cruelty-free) boots, and these amazing lazer-cut bamboo earrings by Molly M designs. It is such a comfortable outfit, but it still looks so put together.

SMC: what one style secret do you wish you could teach every woman out there?

SK: My #1 style secret would be to make sure that you are comfortable in what you are wearing. When someone feels comfortable, they project a certain confidence and people are drawn to them. If you are constantly fidgeting with your outfit, you will appear insecure and also won’t be able to enjoy yourself as much. And a good bra can make all the difference!

a great big thank you to sara at doie designs for taking the time to chat with us! i’m really looking forward to seeing what this designer has up her sleeve for future seasons.

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