“From the time I was born, my summers have been spent at the beach,” says Sissy Yates, a native Washingtonian who has helmed the jewelry label Sissy Yates Designs for the past seven years. “Our family and friends usually set up beach chairs in a wide circle each day and share in everything from food to beach toys to gossip.” Yates, who heads to Martha’s Vineyard for the month of August, describes what makes a perfect beach day for her.
What do you bring to the beach?
A Roberta Roller Rabbit tunic and beach towel, Sun Bum sunscreen, Havaianas flip-flops, a lightweight beach chair that can be carried like a backpack, a boogie board, healthy snacks, and a bucket for collecting sea treasures.
Your favorite beaches?
Black Point or Quansoo on Martha’s Vineyard, Point Dume in California, Santa Teresa in Costa Rica, Tulum in Mexico, and Anguilla.
Best beach activity?
Walking for miles on the sand, searching for inspiration for my jewelry; bonfires at night; clambakes; and time with family.
This article appears in the August 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
If you’re somehow not yet convinced of Washington’s rep as a menswear capital, get ready to be impressed. The creators of five new, local menswear startups, specializing in a slew of accessories from hand-stitched ties to patterned socks, are gathering for a happy hour celebration in May—and you’re invited. The Art of Style is a free, public event that offers guests the opportunity to mingle with some of the city’s newest innovators in menswear: The creators of Bull + Moose (neckwear), Nice Laundry (socks), Read Wall (shirts and suiting), Stubble & ‘Stache (skin care and beard grooming), and Off the Cuff (style consulting) will be in attendance.
While enjoying cocktails and perusing the latest collections of the four retail labels, you’ll also have the chance to see the vibrant works of international artist Samara Shuter, known for her menswear-inspired paintings (as well as Off the Cuff’s logo); rumor has it that a few of her prints may even be up for raffle at the event.
The Art of Style. May 16, 5 to 7 PM at the Huxley (1730 M St., NW). Free; online RSVP required.
Designers Alvaro Roche and Elsa Arcila have traveled the world for fashion—with stops in France, Venezuela, and Italy—but it wasn’t until they got to Washington that they decided to set down roots. Following years of experience in the industry, including Roche’s stint with designer Gianfranco Ferré and Arcila’s degree from LA’s esteemed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), the pair noticed a void in the style scene of their new hometown, and decided to take it upon themselves to fill it. Thus was born Aroche, their namesake fashion label whose inaugural collection of minimalist flats, patterned clutches, and customizable totes debuted online in early March. We caught up with the designers to hear more about Aroche’s origin and what’s next for the brand.
How and when did you decide to launch an accessories line?
Alvaro Roche: In the past three years, we’ve noticed a higher success rate in online brands. We want to be a part of that success. We also wanted to change the reputation that Washingtonians are unfashionable. DC is the capital of the US, after all! I was especially interested in customizing and personalizing bags. When we started figuring out who our target customers were, we realized shoes were the perfect product to complete the picture—light, well-proportioned nylon/leather bags and funky, comfortable flats.
Alvaro, you attended Parsons and worked for Ferré while Elsa gained fashion experience at FIDM. Can you give us an example of how you’ve applied skills from those experiences in creating Aroche?
AR: I worked at Ferré during a time when art and fashion were almost indistinguishable. It was a very free and creative period. I cofounded EPK, a children’s clothing line, and was designing thousands of items per year. I learned how to hone that creativity into salable products at an industrial and affordable level. When Elsa and I first talked about Aroche, we agreed it had to be the marriage of two concepts: great design and affordability. Instead of working on thousands of styles, we focused our attention on making sure the sizes, details, and proportions were perfect. We could only do that if we kept the collection small.
Elsa Arcila: At FIDM, I was exposed to new technologies and multichannel marketing. It helped me envision the strategy that Aroche would take as a brand. I also learned that e-commerce was the future of marketing and retail.
Cameron St. Clair Archer’s designs for her namesake jewelry line are a study in perfectly chic contrasts: Blend one part industrial (she works with reclaimed metals) with a dash of tough (hello, spikes and chains), and mix in a bit of earthy, organic beauty (thanks to the raw stones and delicate gems). Finish with a healthy dose of asymmetry and some lush color, and the result is that sweet spot between sculptural cool and endless wearability. Archer launched the line in 2010 after teaching herself to rework her own jewelry, and now it’s a full-time job.
We stopped by her Bloomingdale workspace recently to see where the magic happens, and chatted with her about why she likes working in DC, and how abstract concepts like spontaneity and adventure inspire her designs. Read on for the scoop—and peep her seriously gorgeous creations.
Tell us a little about your background. How did you end up designing jewelry?
I’ve always been pretty crafty, and I love using my hands—the dirtier the better, be it painting, sanding, drilling, refinishing, gluing, you name it. I suppose the jewelry came about from a real lack of creative expression at a previous job. I was hungry for it, and started to take apart/recreate jewelry I already owned just to see if it was something I enjoyed doing. I did some research and started buying simple starter materials. I would stay up very late designing, and I’d wear my creations the next day. I started getting compliments, and women would ask me who the designer was and where they could buy pieces. Thus, Saint Clair Jewelry. There’s something equally meditative and invigorating about designer jewelry—the combinations truly are endless.
How would you describe the Saint Clair customer?
The Saint Clair woman is not afraid to take risks. She stands out in a crowd; she is a leader, a thinker, an empowered woman who knows what she wants. She appreciates and practices openness and inclusiveness. She is a risk-taker, she’s goofy—unapologetically so—and, more important, she is confident, which is the most beautiful piece of jewelry anyone can own.
How has your work evolved since you started designing?
I definitely take more risks. I lean more toward asymmetrical designs, and I don’t stick to one genre. I also am not so obsessed with following the latest and greatest trends, which I’ve learned can really inhibit creative freedom. I make things I like—things that feel right—and I put myself out there. Like I said, design possibilities are truly endless, and if you limit yourself to one genre, it becomes a bit sticky.
Erika Schrieber’s debut collection is proof that minor upgrades to a piece of clothing can have a transformative impact. The nine-piece line, dominated by midi skirts with ever-so-slightly flared hems, flowy shift dresses with drop waists, and sleek blazers with ultra-wide lapels show us how one can look simultaneously sophisticated and edgy—something that holds particular weight in Washington, where striking the right balance of style and professionalism is a never-ending challenge. Schrieber’s full spring/summer 2014 collection, produced right here in DC, just launched online, and she has even bigger plans for the future. We caught up with the 25-year-old designer to hear about how she got started in the industry, where she finds inspiration, and favorite local shops.
It’s not that we don’t love a sparkly bauble from a big-box retailer—see our ample collection of shiny H&M necklaces and dainty Forever 21 studs as evidence—but there’s something special about finding an awesome piece that’s been lovingly dreamed up right here in the area. Our region is lucky to count a whole lot of jewelry designers among our very own, from minimalist GiantLion to luxe Dina Mackney. Click through the gallery to see seven local designs at the top of our love list.
This week welcomed two new lookbooks filled with fashiony eye candy, courtesy of some of DC’s most stylish. The deets, along with a few of our fave images:
Saint Clair Jewelry
Washington-based jewelry designer Cameron St. Clair Archer is one of our faves for her modern-organic aesthetic. For her very first lookbook, she tapped local style writer/stylist/creative spirit Kate Greene as her model and Worn Magazine’s Nicole Aguirre and Beth Silverberg as photog and stylist, respectively. The result: dreamy images bursting with cool design. Click on over to Worn to see the complete lookbook.
Maybe you’re a seasoned DIY-er. Or maybe, like us, two left hands means your chosen form of DIY means hitting the “add to cart” button on Etsy. Hey, we can’t all be Erica Domesek.
Or can we? DC’s latest venture Topaz + Arrow is on the mission to help us all become a little craftier with a brand new series of workshops that will approach personal style, home decor, party planning, weddings, and more from a handmade perspective. The collaborative effort is a partnership of cool creativity, teaming up Morgan Hungerford West of the art and lifestyle blog Panda Head with Virginia Arrisueño of the knitwear accessories line DeNada. And the craft sessions—constructed to be a complete experience, not just a tutorial—will take place in an equally chic spot: Bloomingdale’s multipurpose loft/art studio space the Ulysses Room.
Ticket sales launched today for the inaugural workshop, “Feathers, Yarn, and Brands: A Home Decor Craft Session.” June 23, 1 to 3 PM at 52 O St., NW, Studio 302. Tickets ($37.50) are available through Topaz + Arrow’s website. Read on for a word from the duo on why they launched the venture, and what to expect from the series.
We know you’re busy mapping out your spring shopping marathon right now, so while you’re at it, add a local label to the list: Nana.
When the Mount Pleasant boutique of the same name closed earlier this year, owner-turned-designer Jackie Flanagan assured us she wouldn’t disappear along with it. With a slew of events, like a Valentine’s Day bazaar and trunk shows for the shop’s most-missed brands, she’s still very much involved in the local shopping scene. But what we’re really dying to know is what’s happening with her own clothing line.
Nana’s spring collection launches tonight via pop-up at one of our U Street faves, GoodWood, offering the first look at the much-anticipated wave of organic dresses, skirts, and tops. The brand’s gotten a little more creative this time around, using new textures, hues, and prints, like the florals on the blouse shown above. Flanagan describes the aesthetic as “utilitarian elegance,” aiming for the collection to be as befitting for a European vacay as for Friday’s board meeting. Each piece is sewn together at Adams Morgan's Bits of Thread studio and made from sustainable materials. Ever owned a skirt made of hemp? Here's your chance.
It won’t be the first Nana event. Since the shop closed in January, Flanagan has been adamant that the brand has simply changed its location, not its presence. She plans to team up with more local retailers for similar events, and of course, the Etsy shop remains.
The event is from 5 to 8, but if you can’t make it, not to worry: the collection will become available online starting tomorrow. Happy shopping!
Yes, we admittedly talk about the Shirt a lot (see here, here, and here). But as a small fashion company lead by two kickass DC ladies with an equally kickass product, it’s hard not to. Especially as their collection of something so essential to the Washington woman’s wardrobe gets more and more chic each season. And we’re not the only ones taking notice— InStyle focused the November version of its popular “Your Look, Three Ways” column on the Shirt’s.