19 Cool NYC Designers You’ll Actually Want to Wear

It’s easy to get halfway through NYFW and still not see a single thing you’d want to actually wear. We’re here to fix that with 17 of the coolest female designers in New York City. You’ll want to wear all their clothes AND be their bestie.

Chelsea Scott

Chelsea Scott

Dzojchen

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Age: 33

Hometown: Singapore

Currently: Between Singapore and Brooklyn

Education?

The University of Life. Whilst I didn’t study fashion at school, I spent five years prior to starting my label Dzojchen, traveling the world, living amidst different cultures, collecting experiences, sparking inquisition and exploration, and working amidst different aspects of the industry. From there, I took the entrepreneurial plunge and launched the label.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Paradoxical. Refined-street.

What trend are you most excited about this season?

70s — bringing sexy back.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Low-high homages.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes?

Madonna — a constant reinvention. She’s a chameleon of cool.

Your pop culture fashion inspiration?

Labyrinth, Atonement, Grease, Heathers, Orlando

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

I currently show in Paris, Singapore & Seoul, but I would love to show in London. Something about the sincerity of the streets.

How can we get your clothes?

We stock globally with our stockists listed on our site, and will be launching our new ecommerce platform this fall.

Emilia Pfohl

Emilia Pfohl

Namilia

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Age: 28

Hometown: Düsseldorf, Germany

Currently: Berlin, Neukölln

Education?

Since I was little I wanted to move to Berlin, I always felt attracted to the city’s atmosphere and art scene. When I knew Vivienne Westwood was teaching at the University of Arts, I decided to study there.

Describe your clothing line in three words. 

Rebellious, pop, hot.

What trend are you living for this season? 

I have to admit I’m still obsessed with over-knee boots even though they are a bit last season. But I am also very excited about that ongoing trend of reinterpretating vintage clothes in terms of creating new silhouettes out of existing garments.

And of course the patent leather and PVC come back.

What trend would you like to never see again this season? 

Trends will always come back at some point – I feel like it’s a never ending circle. But I don’t mind it, it’s always a reinterpretation of existing trends that have proven to be successful somehow.

Trends that I really don’t want to see back this season are buffalo platform boots and leggings… but I am definitely looking forward to get surprised one day by a wonderful new interpretation of them. I believe that every trend has a reason even though some of them seem weird and unnecessary.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes? 

Definitely Marilyn Monroe. I will never forget that moment when she absolutely pulled off that naked dress. Probably the first step towards the “free the nipple revolution”

Your pop culture fashion inspo? 

We get a lot of inspiration from pop art culture artists like Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons or Richard Hammilton. I love the fact that the pop art movement aimed to blur the boundaries between “high” art and “low” culture — the concept that there is no hierarchy of culture.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why? 

MILANO! I love the Italian temperament and humor. Fashion should be something to enjoy not an over intellectual concept nobody understands.

Where can we get your clothes? 

First of all at our online shop but also in shops like VFILES in New York, JENKO in Hong Kong, St1 Soup in Italy, and la Boutique due dipicche in Italy.

Sarah Lathrop

Sarah Lathrop

Sext Pixels

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Age: 30

Hometown: Golden Meadow, Louisiana

Currently: Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Education?

I didn’t attend fashion school. I have a film degree. I started doing costumes/wardrobe on films in New Orleans. Also would make fun things to wear for friends’ tree house parties. Designing crazy costumes is fun. Once I made a huge metal birdcage dress that I’m still pretty proud of. I realized maybe moving to NYC to pursure more fashion-based stuff made more sense for me.

Describe your line in three words.

Bubble gum punk.

What trend are you most living for this season?

Plastic! I saw Valentino recently made a plastic couture gown and I almost fell on the floor.

What trend would you never like to see again this season?

I’m almost over stilettos. It’s because I can’t walk over drains in them like Rihanna can.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes?

Grace Kelly. Someone recently told me I look like a punk Grace Kelly so now I’m trying to look that way. Also Rihanna because she’s the queen. Rei Kawakubo recently purchased some clothing from me at Pop Souk. So I’m curious if she will wear it.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Party Monster and Clueless. These two definitely shaped what I think is cool.

If you could show your collection anywhere besides NYC, where would it be?

Tokyo or London. I went to London in 2007 and honestly couldn’t believe how refined the style is there. There’s an actual true vibe that I adored. I haven’t been to Japan yet but hopefully I can in the upcoming year. I dream of just being able to see pink. I’ve seen photos of an entire area that is pink. So based on that makes me really want to go.

Where can we get your clothes?

Sextpixels.com

Stella Rose Saint Clair

Stella Rose Saint Clair

Stella Rose

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Age: 29

Hometown: Born in NYC but raised in Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Currently: Bushwick, Brooklyn

Education? 

My mom’s 80s club wear closet, between the pages of Fruits magazine, and reading up on punk fashion history during geography class in high school.

Describe your clothing line in three words. 

Retro. Punk. Kawaii.

What trend are you living for this season?

Trends don’t excite me much anymore. These days I’m less interested in wearing what everyone else says is cool, and more excited about just being my own creation.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Tattoo chokers, bucket hats, and extra large pants. Middle school was a bummer. I don’t need a constant reminder.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes?

I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t been raised on Nina Hagen records. Creating something beautiful for her to wear is the least I could do to express my gratitude.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Just rent Liquid Sky.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

I’ll be throwing a fun party in LA the weekend after NYFW! Follow @itsstellarose and @iwearstella for more details!

How can readers get your clothes?

Visit me at itsstellarose.com

Lindsay Jones

Lindsay Jones

Muséd

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Age: 27

Hometown: Park City, Utah

Currently: NYC

Education?

I did go to school in New York City for a bit, but I learned much more in Zac Posen’s studio.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Elegant, edgy, rebellious.

What trend are you living for this season?

Shaved heads on girls.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Bonnets.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes?

Sibyl Buck. She’s intelligent, glamorous, and punk. I love her irl and I love what she stands for.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Alexander McQueen, Steven Klein with Madonna, Yohji, Margiela, old YSL Shatzberg books. Commes des garçon everything. Valentino.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

Paris because that’s where the fire is.

How can we get your clothes?

www.músed.com

Eleen Halvorsen

Eleen Halvorsen

Eleen Halvorsen

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Age: 28

Hometown: Fredrikstad, Norway

Currently: Harlem, New York

Education?

Parsons, the New School for Design.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Otherworldly, muted, eccentric.

What trend are you living for this season?

I have to be honest and say I don’t know much about current runway trends, I try to stay away as much as possible to keep my inspirations neutral, and my designs true to my inner voice.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Same as above.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

70s Bianca Jagger. Her bold but free style, deep cut blazers, headpieces, feathers — the perfect mix of feminine and masculine elements. Plus who else would look that badass riding a white horse inside of Studio 54?

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Leon in The Professional. Such a visually inspiring movie. I love how perfectly Leon and Mathilda (young Natalie Portman) complement each other’s style.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

Paris. The romantic in me is in love with the beauty of the city and its chic vibe. It would be amazing to have a show in one of their beautiful old buildings.

How can readers get your clothes?

At Carolina Sarria on 149 Ludlow St on the LES. Online from my website. Or email/contact me to set up an exclusive appointment for fittings and SS17 Preview all through Fashion and Market Week. I work a lot with private clients and really enjoy getting to know the people who wear my clothes.

Lindsay Degen

Lindsay Degen

Degen

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Age: 28

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Currently: Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

Education?

Rhode Island School of Design.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Unisex crazy knits.

What trend are you living for this season?

Silk scarves and people caring about Made in America.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Those off the shoulder ruffle tops and dresses.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

Patti Smith. I admire her art and attitude. I like her version of womanhood, gender in general, and beauty with age.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

My Neighbor Totoro and other Japanese animation. I get the most inspiration from looking at color and texture.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

I think London has more of my vibe. They appreciate the art and color.

How can we get your clothes?

SHOP.DEGEN.US

Ashley Golden

Ashley Golden

Bedroom Behavior Lingerie

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Age: 29

Hometown: Newburgh, NY

Currently: The Bronx, NY

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Fun, Bright, and Sexy.

What trend are you living for this season?

Sheer dresses worn over white tees. Just love any lingerie inspired looks.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Cornrow braids.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

JLO for sure. I love her style. She is effortlessly sexy in her own way. I love that her personal style stays true to her Bronx roots.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

Miami, because I love the vibe and I feel that my customer is the ultimate Miami girl.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

I love Galore magazine obviously! I get great inspiration from their articles and editorials. I also love Nylon magazine.

How can readers get your clothes?

www.bedroom-behavior.com

Akua Shabaka

Akua Shabaka

House of Aama

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Age: 18

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Currently: NYC

Education?

Parsons The New School of Design in New York, but I learned fashion from my mother (our head seamstress for our duo brand House of Aama).

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Primal, urban and timeless.

What trend are you living for this season?

The use of layering with dresses. Especially V-Neck dresses with button downs underneath.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Ripped mens jeans, I mean, they’re cute only sometimes.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

Hmm, probably Solange since she’s such a fashion icon in my book. Or to take it back further, probably Diana Ross for our new collection coming soon.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Especially for where House of Aama is going, I would encourage people to watch Coco Before Chanel, Gucci: The Director, Frida and Mahagony to understand the aesthetic – with a cultural flare of course.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

I would love to show my collection and the new stuff we’re working on in either Atlanta or London.

How can we get your clothes?

Houseofaama.com and stay updated through our Insta and Twitter @Houseofaama.

Sandra Gagalo

Sandra Gagalo

SAGA NYC

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Age: 28

Hometown: Staten Island

Currently: Brooklyn, NY

Education?

FIT- and the HS of Fashion Industries.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

High-end, genderless, streetwear.

What trend are you living for this season?

High-Chaps.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Athleisure.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

I’m enthralled by FKA Twigs and I would love to see her in my clothes ! #majorgoal. She is so lovely, divine, and aware of her inner self, a true-individual.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

I’m forever inspired by Blade Runner and Daisies, the 1960’s Czech film. Music videos really inspire me like Bjork and Aaliyah. I love any editorial styled by Panos Yiapanis. “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness”- is probably one of my favorite fashion books.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

Besides NYC, I would love to show my collection in London. The emerging scene over there really get’s more hype. I feel like underground and subversive independent designers have a stronger support system out there.

How can readers get your clothes?

They can go to my online shop HERE.

 

Elizabeth Gilligan

Elizabeth Gilligan

Elizabeth Gilligan

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Age: 22

Hometown: Great Falls, Montana

Currently: Portland, Oregon (just moved here to work for Adidas)

Education? Drexel University

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Inclusive, unapologetic, anti-Trump.

What trend are you living for this season?

We all need more custom denim – shirts, jackets, jeans. If you have 2K, you can buy the embroidered Gucci jackets. Or if you have like $20, you can make your own.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

I hope the trend of dressing for a man or anyone other than yourself dies off really quickly. Just wear whatever you want to wear, all the time. Except flip flops. I hate flip flops.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes?

She’s still alive, but I really want to dress Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She does not give a shit what anyone else thinks, and she’s quick to put racists, homophobes, bigots, and misogynists in their place. I also feel like she’s the type to compliment another girl’s shoes and actually mean it.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Zoolander. Derelicte was one of the most revolutionary collections to ever walk the runway, and the movie is a good reminder that we should never take fashion too seriously.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

I’d like to show my collection in my hometown of Great Falls, Montana for two reasons. One, to show the people there that there is more clothing in the world than Wranglers and flannels and two, to prove that fashion design is indeed a real major.

How can we get your clothes?

For now, I am happy to accept orders for custom pieces through my website (www.elizabethgilligan.us) or Instagram (egilligan). I hope to figure out the logistics of larger production soon so everyone can share in my vision of strength and equality.

Megan Kothari

Megan Kothari

Aaryah Jewelry

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Age: 25

Hometown: Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Currently: Midtown Manhattan, in the Diamond District.

Education?

The Fashion Institute of Technology.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Bold, tribal, and iconic.

What trend are you living for this season?

Hoodies and faux fur.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Moon boots.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

Rani Lakshmibai (she was a indian warrior princess in the early 1800’s).

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Valentino SS16 campaign shot by my favorite photography Steve McCurry

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

I would love to show in Tokyo.  They are so diverse in their style and are major fashion risk takers. I appreciate that!

How can we get your clothes?

Shop AARYAH on our website: www.aaryah.com.

Nili Lotan

Nili Lotan

Nili Lotan

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Age: 58

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel

Currently: Tribeca, NYC

Education?

Shenkhar College, Israel and 10 years as creative director at RRL Ralph Lauren

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Chic, effortless, and timeless

What trend are you living for this season?

Velvet, camo, and even Leopard print.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Anything that makes a woman feel uncomfortable.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

So many! Patti Smith (inspires me so much), Freida Kahlo, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger. I love strong self-possessed women.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

Dior and I (2014)

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

Paris, France.

How can we get your clothes?

Click your way to www.nililotan.com or stop by our store in TriBeCa or East Hampton, or try one our stockists like Barney’s, Matches Fashion, InterMIX, Dreslyn, ShopBop etc.

Natalya Nyn

Natalya Nyn

Toy Syndrome

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Age: 28

Hometown: Moscow, Russia

Currently:

Education?

I went to FIT but I was at the same time I was working as a research assistant for an exhibit at the costume institute at the MET.  So I was constantly seeing inspiring images and making weird stuff.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Just. Be. You.

What trend are you living for this season?

Non trend trend, denim, slime (maybe not a trend, but I love it).

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

The attitude “I’m too cool” because I wear designer, I think approachable and friendly can be v. cool.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, Daria and Wednesday Addams (I know they’re fictional but I love them).

Your pop culture fashion inspo?
True Cost, documentary on the cost of fast fashion, I think activists are my favorite kind of people, people that make a difference and inspire others.  I think “cool” and making a difference can go together and be fun.
If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

How can we get your clothes?

Toysyndrome.com or check out the The Rising States on 168 Ludlow St, New York to shop in person.

Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole

Ketch

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Age: 26

Hometown: Harlem/Bronx, NY

Currently: Bronx, NY

Education?

I attended Fashion Industries, I have also taken Menswear classes at FIT. I was also very much inspired by my late great aunt. She was such a swaggy upper west side, vintage collecting, wine sipping whipper snapper. She managed a tuxedo shop in the garment district so there were endless sewing supplies and fabric in her apartment.  She taught me how to hand sew, which I cherish so much. She also had pieces for days and of course I stole a lot of them (before I inherited the rest)  and still receive endless compliments to this day. She taught me that simplicity is key and that you don’t necessarily have to be overly sexualized to accomplish a successful “look” as a female.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

One of One.

What trend are you living for this season?

I’m in love with the choker and slip dress trend, I’m such a 90’s girl!

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Honestly, I’m over homemade fur slides.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your clothes and why?

If I had to pick a women from history to wear my clothing it would be Afeni Shakur. She was an American political activist,black panther and the mother of Tupac Shakur. She represented strength as a black woman/mother and she was a motivator of freedom and liberation. When I design my one of one pieces, I’m designing for a rebel, I’m designing for anyone who is open to liberating themselves though individuality. In a world where everything is based on “the wave” my ultimate goal is to create an aesthetic that allows my customer to feel completely okay with not looking like else.

Your pop culture fashion inspo?

I love The Devil Wears Prada, which I can relate to because I interned for a long time. I follow The Sartorialist and Hypebeast most consistently for New York street fashion inspiration.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

How can we get your clothes?

I would love to show my collection in Japan and Italy. These are both destinations I have never been but I feel inspired by their culture and fashion. I also think both places would appreciate my aesthetic.

Etsy: UPCYCLED BY KETCH

IG: @ketch @ubketch

Arpana Rayamajhi

Arpana Rayamajhi

Arpana Rayamajhi

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Age: Sometimes 15, sometimes 50.

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal.

Currently: Union Square, NYC

Education?

I did not go to school for fashion, although it was an option. I went to Cooper Union and got a BFA for painting and sculpture. As for fashion education, it started with my mother and then TV, rock ‘n roll music, magazines, and seeing people on the street.

Describe your jewelry line in three words.

Unusual, artistic, beautiful.

What trend are you most excited about this season?

I do not like trends therefore I am never excited for them.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

I would like for wanna be rock ‘n roll-inspired jeans with massive holes to forever disappear from the market.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your jewelry and why?

I would love to see Frida Kahlo wear my work. Also, Bjork.

Where do you get inspired?

Inspiration and knowledge is everywhere. Traveling and seeing how different cultures see fashion or rather style is very interesting. The streets and how people wear clothes is inspiring. Jimi Hendrix is inspiring.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be and why?

I want to be able to share my work with the entire world. Tokyo, Paris, and London to name the obvious. But I would also love to see how Nepal would see my work outside the context of all the press and attention I have gotten for it. Also, I would love for people who are not into fashion or who live in mass consumerist urban spaces to see my work. I am very curious how that would be perceived.

How can readers get your jewelry?

www.arpanarayamajhi.com as of now and very very soon… somewhere fantastic! I cannot declare it yet, but once I can, I will be announcing it via Instagram — @arpanaraya. All I can say is that I am very excited about it and I cannot wait to tell everyone!

Sarah Law

Sarah Law

Kara Store

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Age: 30

Hometown: Stanley, Hong Kong

Currently: Tribeca, New York City

Education? Parsons School of Design in New York and in Paris.

Describe your accessories line in three words.

Individuality, Authenticity, Modernity.

What trend are you most excited about this season?

No trends.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Trends.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your accessories?

Luisa Casati!

Favorite fashion movie/book/editorials ever?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

Naoshima, Japan. Google it, you’ll see why…

How can readers get your accessories?

KARA is available online at www.KARAstore.com; and globally at luxury retailers including: Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony, Lane Crawford, Harvey Nichols, SSENSE.com, Shopbop.com and Net-a-Porter.com.

Amy Mazius

Amy Mazius

Eleanor Kalle

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Age: 25

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Currently: New York City

Education? Painting studio at Lehigh University

Describe your jewelry line in three words.

Easy, stackable, timeless.

What trend are you most excited about this season?

Layering chokers.

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

90s tattoo chokers; I love metal and velvet so much more.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your accessories?

Mary Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen. Their taste is impeccable.

Favorite fashion movie/book/editorials ever?

For casual looks, Clueless. For outerwear, Jacqueline Susann novels–the furs. And for jewelry, Celine campaigns with Daria .

If you could show your collection anywhere in the world besides NYC, where would it be?

I would love to show it in Japan–it’s such an amazing, inspirational place I’ve never been and admire the personal style and attention to self expression.

How can readers get your accessories?

Eleanorkalle.com! The Milly boutique stocks our favorite chokers exclusive to their store from the runway.

Hayley Pisaturo and Romina Cenisio

Hayley Pisaturo and Romina Cenisio

Venomiss

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Age: We both just turned the dirty 30!

Hometown:

Washington Township, NJ and El Paso, TX

Currently:

NYC: Hayley lives in the East Village and Romina lives in Chinatown, but is back and forth working with Nike in Portland at the moment.

Education?

Hayley got her BFA in fashion design from Parsons, and got her styling education from working with Karl Templer and Nicola Formichetti. Romina got her BFA in Fabric Styling from FIT, and got her IRL fashion education being a part of NYC’s nightlife since 2005 and graphic designing for clients ranging from HBA, to Rihanna, and Nike.

Describe your clothing line in three words.

Sexy, comfy, and sparkly.

What trend are you most excited about this season?

We’ve noticed classic bandanas are coming back, worn as chokers or armbands or layered with a doo rag. We love this look, especially when it’s a bandana that has some crystal VENOMISS bling!

What trend would you like to never see again this season?

Models that are starving themselves to be on the runway! Being unhealthy is never in style.

Which badass woman from history would you love to see wearing your accessories?

Christina Aguilera from her “Dirrty” era is definitely the ultimate VENOMISS girl! She was in control of her sexuality, not apologizing for her look or attitude, and just was an all around boss bitch.

Favorite fashion movie/book/editorials ever?

Favorite editorial would be Steven Meisel’s “Hollywood” spread for Italian Vogue from January 2005, which makes fun of the celebrity/paparazzi culture. Also early 2000s Dior and Galliano runway videos are a never-ending source of inspiration. We love when fashion has a sense of humor, and when there’s some trashiness thrown in the mix. Also “The Glitter Plan” written by the founders of Juicy Couture is worth a read, and David LaChapelle’s over the top fantasy fashion photos are a fave of ours!

 

How can readers get your accessories?

venomissnyc.com

 


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