Nordstrom Interview

Three Minutes With: Rachel Roy

The always lovely designer—and repeat Project Runway guest judge—Rachel Roy visited our Seattle Flagship Store last week to meet and mingle with lucky shoppers. There was a lot to celebrate, including the launch of her Rachel Roy Dress Salon (check out the gorgeous lookbook) and her new shoe line. What better time to do a little Q&A and get the dish on her inspirations and must-have item for fall!

Tell us about your new dress collection and the inspiration behind it.
Beauty, strength and effortless elegance inspired the new collection. The dress, to me, is about the ease of putting on one singular piece and making that your statement. It’s a collection of dresses that flatter, fit and move with each need in a woman’s busy life. I love that feeling of strength balanced with feminine silhouettes, and wearing a great dress can make you remember what is beautiful about life.

What do you look for in a great dress?
The feeling of elegant, sexy confidence. When you put it on, you know.

Is there an overall theme that ties your collections together?
My goal is always to design things that make women feel smart and confident, and there’s always a theme of the effortless and exotic in my collections. I think beauty and style should be effortless and at the same time look amazing, so I try to achieve that through interesting silhouettes and shapes. Exotic touches like print mixing and fabric manipulation add interest and depth to the story we are telling with the collections.

Where do you look for inspiration when designing?
Old Hollywood movies have always been an inspiration. I love the strength and glamour of Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn. I surround myself with art that inspires in my home and office. It’s important to me to fill my spaces with canvases, photography and sculpture that tell a story or elicit an emotion.

Describe the woman you envision wearing your clothes.
I design for women like me—working, raising a family, and navigating everything that comes with that. It means a great deal to me when women trust me enough to wear the collection or try something new. Designing, to me, is about helping women express themselves, and when she chooses to wear something from my collection and feels good in it, then I’ve done my job.

Do you have a favorite new trend or must-have item for fall?
A dress! It’s that one piece that’s always flattering and that works perfectly with anything from a leather jacket to a sweater coat. It’s the most versatile piece a woman can own.


Three Minutes With: Kenzo

Kenzo Creative Directors, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (Opening Ceremony founders) chatted with us about their fall 2012 collection, favorite cities for fashion and their ultimate style tip for women. Check out what these fashion darlings had to say.

Image by Gregory Harris via Interview

Who is the Kenzo woman?
When we design a collection, we don’t picture a specific individual or type of person. Instead, we always want to design for all kinds of women, for all occasions. Within the FW12 collection, we focused on different stories for women, whether it’s a woman getting ready to go out in her chicest outfit, or going for a casual lunch date with friends, so that within the collection there were pieces that worked for every woman and every story.

What were the inspirations for your Fall 2012 collection?
This collection was inspired by interiors. There were sharp lines that evoked the sharp corners and linear elements of an interior landscape together with the softer curves and accents that make a home. The prints for this collection are very special to us. One is a hand-drawn marble print, and there are also fruit prints designed exclusively for us by Spanish art director Juan Gatti that were a play on bowls of fruits as home accents.

If you could give a woman just one style tip, what would it be?
Wear something that you are comfortable in. You could be wearing the latest trend, but if you aren’t comfortable in it, it won’t look good. To us, the most fashionable thing you can do is to look like yourself and embrace your individual style.

What’s next for Kenzo?
We want to push ourselves and Kenzo into the future. Part of Kenzo’s history, and its future, is to inspire people, to make them feel bold, to laugh, to go do something interesting. There is a whole universe to explore with the house, and we’ve only just started a very exciting voyage.

What are the essentials every woman needs in her wardrobe this fall?
Knits are always an important part of a fall wardrobe – knits were an important story in our fall collection for this very reason. They are so versatile, and can really fit any occasion. And of course, fall is a great time to invest in a coat for the season, so we also focused on outerwear. We especially loved the wool coats with the pleated bottom that zips off to become a cropped jacket.

What other fashion designers or innovators  do you admire?
There are so many brands in the industry that we admire for different reasons. We’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with some of these—for example, Juan Gatti is someone that we’ve long admired in the fashion industry, and we collaborated with him to create the exclusive fruit prints for the FW12 collection.

What is the most fashionable city in the world?
New York will always be a city that inspires us—the street style in New York is unlike that in any other city. That being said, we have been lucky enough to travel to many different parts of the world, and each location has been an inspiration to us in different ways.


Donna Karan

Donna Karan spent some time dishing with us about her fall collections, eponymous lifestyle brand and her most important style tip for women—not to mention what every woman needs in her wardrobe for fall.

What kind of woman do you design for?
I design for a universality of women who are urban, creative and passionate. Even if she doesn’t live in a city, she has the sensibility of one who does. This is a sophisticated woman—one who multitasks in her daily life, one who travels, one who always feels like she’s short on time and needs day-into-evening clothes she doesn’t have to think about.

What is the inspiration behind your pre-fall and fall 2012 collection?
We called pre-fall and fall Wo-Man. The concept is about empowering women with a potent mix of his tailoring and her sensuality. To me, style is in the contrasts—strong, soft; light, dark; liquid, structure.

So the objective was to offer her a sharp, shouldered and slim silhouette that could multi-function with ease and sophistication. A great, double-breasted cutaway jacket she can suit up with cuffed pants or a splice skirt. The femininity of a silk bodysuit. A tailored dress that is seduces by flashing just enough skin at the neck and/or leg. A topcoat she can wear over everything. The more pulled-together, the more confident, the more seductive.

If you could give a woman just one style tip, what would it be?
Know yourself, your body, your style, and dress to accentuate the positive and delete the negative. There’s nothing more stylish than confidence.

How has your brand evolved from where it began, and what’s next for Donna Karan?
Evolved is the perfect word because our Seven Easy Pieces philosophy is the same it was when we first began. Yet the woman and her lifestyle have evolved, and so the actual pieces have evolved with her. She’s even more diverse, pulled in even more directions. Style-wise, she’s more flexible, more creative because she’s not an either/or, she’s an “and.” That’s why we’ve opened Casual Luxe, to address her more relaxed side with sophistication.

What are the essentials every woman needs in her wardrobe this fall?
Think in terms of tailoring. A strongly shouldered cutaway jacket—it will modernize everything you own. A pegged or envelope skirt. Maybe a coatdress or jumpsuit. Tailoring feels very new and fresh.


Iris Apfel

Our favorite nonagenarian style icon, Iris Apfel is making headlines again. The Boston Globe reports that she’s donating over 600 articles of clothing and accessories (we’re talking the likes of Lagerfeld, Dior, McQueen) to the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts.

All 600 enviable pieces were already lent to the museum during its 2009 exhibition, “Rare Bird of Fashion: The Irreverent Iris Apfel.” After reading the news of her collection’s permanent return to the museum, we thought it a perfect time to open our treasure chest and relive our interview with Apfel—shot as she as she marked the exhibition’s opening by styling our Nordstrom Northshore windows.

“If you can have one good little black dress and have a lot of accessories, you can change the look of the dress, and you can have umpteen outfits and always look good.”—Iris Apfel

This rare bird of fashion is sheer delight.


The de Young Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Nordstrom present The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, showing now through August 19.

With 140 haute couture and ready-to-wear designs, along with sketches, archival documents, photography and video clips, this exhibition showcases the masterful craftsmanship and rebellious spirit of fashion’s “enfant terrible“, starting from the launch of his first collection in 1976.

We were thrilled to speak with Gaultier about his works on display, his design philosophy and his thoughts on beauty and individuality.

Learn more about the exhibit and ticket information. “There is no one type of beauty.”—Jean Paul Gaultier


Julie Macklowe, vbeauté Founder

Creator of the vbeauté skincare line and It Kit™—a travel-friendly gunmetal clutch filled with customizable, refillable essentials—Julie Macklowe schools us about her unique products that are sweeping across the beauty scene.

What inspired you to create the vbeauté skincare line?
TSA security agents took my toiletries, so I purchased expensive luxury products in France only to find myself in hives three days later in the middle of nowhere in Normandy. Murphy’s Law.

We love the It Kit™ idea. How did it come about?
I sketched it on a napkin while having a glass of wine on my flight back from Europe. Of course the kit wasn’t enough; I wanted the IT technology, so I partnered with the world-renowned CRB Lab in Switzerland to develop the line.

I wanted to create the best skincare and keep it affordable, so you didn’t have to go broke buying it—vbeauté ranges from $48-150 for the full size, with refill sizes from $18-42, so anyone can use our products.

What are the technologies in and benefits of vbeauté?
All vbeauté products have Swiss Alpine Rose Botanical Technology. The alpine rose is a beautiful plant that grows high in the Swiss Alps, goes through extreme climate changes, dies each winter and rejuvenates itself each spring—fresh like your skin.

We combined this plant, which has natural protection from the elements, with the latest patented BioCellular peptide, and vComplex was born—the latest in Swiss Botanical anti-age technology. Since I have very sensitive skin, all products are paraben free, fragrance free, and gluten, nut and oat free—great for all skin types.

What are your other beauty must-haves?
I’m a firm believer that foundation ages your skin, as your skin cannot breathe. Therefore, I try to avoid wearing any heavy makeup daily—usually light mascara and a lip gloss are all I wear.

I love CHANEL Inimitable Intense Mascara and Edward Bess lip gloss.

What can we expect in the future for vbeauté?
We are big believers that less is more, so we will launch very select products to keep our line simple. Right now a great mask and zinc SPF are in the works. The launch date is TBD as they must be PERFECT.

What’s your one beauty tip to live by?
Never leave home without your It Kit!

Shop vbeauté.


Rachel Zoe Answers Your Questions

You asked, and Rachel Zoe has answers. Fashion editor, stylist to the stars, TV star and designer of glam mix-and-match pieces, Rachel Zoe took a few minutes out of her time during a visit to one of our stores to answer style questions supplied by our Nordstrom Facebook Community. Check out her expert answers.

We love you too, Rachel. You rock. Shop Rachel Zoe

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Elle Magazine’s Joe Zee

Elle Magazine Creative Director and reality TV personality Joe Zee made a personal appearance in two of our stores this week. His new show, All on the Line is dedicated to helping struggling designers bounce back from near ruin.

His first success story, Radenroro, is now available in our stores and online. While providing styling tips and shopping with customers, as well as toasting the success of his show and the Nordstrom launch of Radenroro, the refreshingly gregarious Zee spoke with our editor about his newest venture, how to free up your wardrobe and why he’s looking forward to the warmer months ahead.

For those who haven’t seen the show, can you describe Radenroro and what type of woman it most appeals to?
I think what’s really great is that it appeals to women of all ages, and they’ve done really versatile pieces, so it doesn’t become a limiting wardrobe. It becomes a great top, a great skirt, a great jacket, even a great dress that you can wear from day into night. You can wear the pieces with flats and flip-flops all the way up to a great pair of heels and a necklace and go out at night. You can pair a top with a pair of jeans, or you can put it with a dressy pair of pants. Those ideas become so versatile.

In fashion today, you want to buy something that feels like an investment, not something that feels like a fad. That’s what they have accomplished. Once we got rid of what they were doing that was generic and got them to do something that felt memorable and special, then I felt we really nailed it.

When choosing the designers you were going to help on the show, why Radenroro—what about the label caught your attention?
The casting process was really collaborative between Sundance, Authentic Entertainment (the production company) and myself, but I think what we really loved about Radenroro was that they had a very interesting story. They had been around for seven or eight seasons, and I’d never heard of them. I basically see everything, so that was really intriguing to me.

Then, when I looked to some of their clothes, I thought there was the beginning of an idea there. I felt like, this is what girls want, and I could see girls walking down the street wearing this, but Radenroro hadn’t quite pinpointed it yet.

I get this itch in me where I’m like, just give it to me! I know if I can just twist it a little bit, I know I can make that happen; I just have to turn the dial. It’s a thing in me where I feel like I can make it happen if I can just get to them, and that part of wanting so badly to help them was a big trigger.

In the first episode, you said, “sometimes bad is better than boring.” As in better to take some risks than none at all?
I’m a big believer in taking a risk. I’m also a big believer that if you’re going to walk into a room, someone’s going to remember good and bad, but nobody’s going to remember someone in the middle. And I’d rather be remembered than not noticed at all. I’m a big celebrator of personal style—go out there and do what feels right for you, good or bad, and it’ll work on you. It’s just good or bad subjectively. Go out there and take a risk. Make a statement. Put it on. Don’t dress for other people, dress for yourself!

Like I said, Radenroro can design a black dress, but who needs that? It sounds so unmemorable to me, so why don’t you go out there and make a dress that people will want to remember.

If you did a show about a
woman’s struggling  wardrobe instead of a  designer’s struggling label, what advice would you give to breathe new life into her closet?
I think many women get style-challenged because they feel like, “oh, that skirt can only go with that top,” or, “I can only wear that jacket with these pants,” and they get stuck in a rut. It becomes, “I don’t have anything to wear.” I love when women just break it all up. Take a chance. Do things.

I think people often don’t even realize you can take a suit and break it up: put the jacket with jeans, put the pants with a different blouse. Just do it. Just mix it all up. Put ‘that’ with ‘that’ one day, and just give it a try.

That’s such a freeing philosophy.

But it’s true though. So many people have dresses hanging in the back of their closet with a price tag still on them because they think, “oh, I don’t have the perfect shoes to wear that with.” But you really do have the perfect pair of shoes. Just go for it; just do it.

On a different note, what are you excited about in fashion for spring and summer?

The one thing I really love right now that makes me feel like I can’t wait for spring and summer is color.

In New York City, we have had a ton of snow. If I have to look at another snow bank, I’m going to have to jump out the window. It’s just been the most dreary winter. So I want to see happy colors. I want to see happy people. I want to see people dressed head-to-toe in bright tones walking down the street and for it all to be just very cheery. Lots and lots of color.

Shop for lots and lots of color yourself, and visit the Sundance Channel to see more info and a programming schedule for All on the Line.


An incredibly talented and highly acclaimed jewelry designer, the dashing and easygoing, Alexis Bittar spent a generous six hours in our downtown Seattle store today signing his pieces, chatting and shopping with customers. He also carved out a few minutes from time with his fans to share his infectious laugh and speak with us about his collections, style tips and what’s next for his label.

What do you love most about what you do?
I think the best thing about being a jewelry designer is that I feel like what I do hopefully straddles art and fashion. You get to create this personal expression for women that they wear. Wearable art has such a bad connotation, but I feel like there is that component involved in the jewelry.

I like to push the limit with developing techniques and trying new mediums. So, I feel like ultimately it’s an expression of art and fashion.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I look at everything…I’m always looking for innovation. I look at architecture, furniture—I love antique jewelry. I feel like in terms of craftsmanship and skill, if you look at jewelry pre-1950s and 1960s, the craftsmanship is just incredible. I look at fashion, art—I try to take all of that in, you know?

I love turn of the last century, like 1900-1915 in terms of modern art. It’s incredible. For me that’s the birth of real modern art.

Your three lines Lucite, Elements, and Miss Havisham all have a distinct look, but what ties them all together? What defines Alexis Bittar?
I design every piece, so hopefully my DNA is in there. Hopefully there’s—this is a generalization because it’s maybe not true for all the pieces—there’s a sense of creativity, a little bit of whimsy, and I feel like the pieces are all strong. They’re not coming from a timid place.

If you could give your customers a tip on style or wearing your pieces, what would it be?
Well, I think a few things. One is that a stack of bracelets looks better generally than just one, unless it’s a strong bracelet. I think it’s good to invest in a statement piece of jewelry, whether it’s a cocktail ring or a larger bib necklace. And I think you need to feel comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. You really want to choose it…you don’t want to feel like the jewelry is wearing you, so you need to have a sense of comfort, but you always try to push it a little bit…push your limits a little.

And I would definitely say stay away from wearing matching sets, like a set of hoop earrings with a hoop necklace, even for my brand, you don’t need to put on Lucite earrings and a Lucite necklace…one’s enough. [Laughs.]

You’ve worked with a long list of celebrities and designers—like Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field, Michael Kors and recently Jason Wu. Are there more collaborations on the horizon? Who would be your dream to partner with?
I would love to work with Comme des Garçons—that would be like my favorite brand to work with. Or McQueen, even though he passed away, I think the show [at Paris Fashion Week] looked really good…Sarah Burton is strong.

In terms of collaborations, [long pause] yeah, I have one, but I can’t talk about it. Sorry. [Smiles.]

What’s next for Alexis Bittar?
I am going to be working on a bridge fine jewelry line; I think that’s the next real venture for the company.

Anything for men?
You know it’s weird, it comes up a lot as a question, and it’s a really particular market. I definitely think I can get to it, but feel like I’d rather get to the fine jewelry first. Men, me included, often own and wear their same one piece of jewelry everyday, and that’s it. It’s not as fun, and you don’t want to make the jewelry too fun. You don’t want guys wearing tons of jewelry. So it needs to be really simple, unless you’re like Liberace, and you can pull it off. [Laughs] but I’m not rushing it.

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The Vivacious Betsey Johnson

We recently welcomed fashion icon Betsey Johnson to our downtown Seattle flagship store. Having started at Mademoiselle before creating her eponymous line in 1978, Johnson has more than 30 years in the industry. Known for her whimsically feminine designs, this fashion force has since been inducted into the Fashion Walk of Fame.

No wonder over 500 customers and fans flocked to our Savvy department to shop her latest collections in apparel, lingerie and shoes while enjoying a live-model presentation to music from our DJ.

We took the opportunity to have a quick chat and to ask about her insights on fashion.

What’s the best piece of fashion advice you’ve ever received?

The best piece of advice is to do your own thing. Buy only what you love and throw it together how you want. When I started in fashion, I didn’t know the business. Today, I try to represent the “dos” and not the “don’ts” of fashion.

Can you describe the inspiration for your fashion designs?

I design pretty, edgy, street, rock ‘n’ roll, look-at-me clothes. There is never one single inspiration for me. I make what I want to wear. For me, one piece is the easiest, like a dress. It could be skintight or puffy-fluffy stuff. I design for a 12-year-old to a 68-year-old.

What inspired your signature cartwheel down the runway at the end of your show?

Happiness inspired the cartwheel. I’m so happy after a show that a cartwheel was a way for me to express that—it felt good and everyone is happy. I can see myself being wheeled out in a wheelchair at the end of my show to do my cartwheel. It’s tough to live up to the pressure of the cartwheel. Now I limit myself to four a year; usually I’ll only do it backstage and at the end of a show.