Jewelry designer Caroline Whittington grew up in Northern Virginia, where she was inspired by nature and the workday fashions downtown Washington is known for. After four years studying painting and jewelry-making at Virginia Commonwealth University, she’s back in Centreville creating edgy, tribal metal and beaded jewelry in her home studio, which she sells out of her Etsy shop giantLION. Read on for the scoop on how our fair city gets her creative juices flowing, plus plenty of gorgeous jewelry pics.
As a socially conscious purveyor of Americana-inspired neckwear and shirts (for every product sold, a book is given to education initiatives in Africa), Spring Valley native Read Wall has been on our radar for a while now. The 25-year-old entrepreneur founded Read’s Clothing Project in 2011 after interning at Vineyard Vines, and has enjoyed modest success after nods from major men’s fashion sites such as Selectism and Valet Mag. And while it’s perfectly rational to let a new business incubate for more than a year, Wall is not exactly one to rest on his exceedingly stylish laurels. He quickly expanded RCP into Read Wall, a full-on made-in-the-USA sportswear line complete with crisp chinos, bright wax jackets, and cotton polos. After flipping through the amazing lookbook (GQ could seriously run the thing as an editorial and you wouldn’t know the difference), we knew we had to get him on the phone. Read on for more shots of the fall collection (soon available for preorder), plus a first-person look at how a distinctly Washington upbringing has shaped his aesthetic. When Wall hits it big—and we have no doubt he will—we’ll be thrilled to say it all started in the District.
Our love affair with Beth Lauren jewelry began way back in January when we featured two of her bracelets in a post about striped skirts. At first, designer Beth Silverberg was just another name to admire from afar on the Internet, and we kept visiting her site for the amazingly affordable mix of vintage elements, tough-girl spikes, and stackable chain bracelets. And then last month we discovered she resides here in the District. Win! Read on for the backstory on her line, plus a look into her U Street workspace.
Here in our nation’s capital, history is always in the making. So it’s not surprising that locals also love reaching back in time to spice up their wardrobes. The past few years have seen an explosion of amazing vintage stores, vintage-focused side projects, and pop-up shops in the area. In recent weeks, Butler & Claypool and La Petite Marmoset, two of our favorite vintage purveyors in Washington, just upped the ante by bringing an appointment-only shopping experience to the mix.
Both businesses recently opened showrooms and are using local fashion blogs and word of mouth to create buzz about their curated selections of clothing. In order to shop at either spot, you have to make an appointment and divulge a few details about what you’re looking for.
By Sarah Zlotnick
Hello, all you lovely Shop Around readers! If you somehow missed local designer Rochelle Behrens in our April “Women of Fashion” feature (or her stunningly stylish Creative Director Meredith Carter in What I Wear to Work), we strongly encourage you to take a look at these ladies—and their beautiful new collection of work blouses—now. Or better yet, come see all of us in person! Next Tuesday, June 19, we’re pairing up with Rochelle and the lovely ladies on her team to host a shopping happy hour at Johnny’s Half-Shell from 5 to 8 PM. And best of all, we’ll be giving away a shirt from the collection to one lucky attendee.
So stop by after work, have a drink, peruse the beautiful blouses Oprah herself deemed a must-have fashion item (when you see how the ingenious button system prevents the dreaded bust gape, you’ll definitely agree), and show your support for Washington fashion. There will be a special happy hour discount price of 20 percent on all shirts purchased, and you know we’re just generally pumped to meet you all.
Former DC-based makeup artist Crystal Hannon started her line of classic-with-a-flirty-twist dresses in 2010. “My passion is making women feel beautiful,” she tells us. “That made [fashion] a very natural crossover for me.” We managed to nab a few minutes with the designer, who currently splits time between New York City and Georgetown, to talk Washington style, the ins and outs of the design process, and where she turns for inspiration.
By Sarah Zlotnick
Public policy, law, international affairs--the list of academic strengths is long and wonky here in Washington. But students excel in creative areas, too--for proof, look no further than Marymount University's signature fashion design program. On a sleepy campus off Northern Virginia's Glebe Road, aspiring fashion designers learn the ins and outs of sewing a pattern, developing a line, and landing a fashion job post-graduation.
Each year, students compete for the honor of showcasing their designs at the school's annual Portfolio in Motion fashion show (see our favorite looks from this year's show here). After the show, each senior designer's portfolio is critiqued by Marymount's designer of the year. Past honorees have included Michael Kors, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, and Peter Som; this year the title went to Eileen Fisher.
Perhaps most well known for her luxurious, loose-fitting basics, the 28-year industry veteran has stores all over the world and a very loyal following among Washington women. Here, she opens up about the looks she saw, the pros and cons of designing outside New York, and why a work/life balance is important, especially in a field as creative as fashion design.
By Natalie Grasso
The looks in Mera Anwar's Miri collection are all about juxtaposition--think rigid silhouettes with soft details, and boyish pieces done in silk chiffon. And her design concepts aren't limited to her work--the idea of contrasts has shaped her life, as well. She studied biochemistry in college, but did a 180 and went into fashion shortly after graduation. She had been making clothes for friends since she was a kid, and quickly landed a gig as a design assistant for Jasmin Santanen. Currently, Anwar keeps a studio in New York but prefers to design in her hometown of Brookville, Maryland.
"New York can be too fast-paced," she says. "In Maryland I have time to think."
We caught up with Anwar to talk about her spring/summer 2012 collection, designing in Washington, and where she looks for inspiration.
There’s gridlock in the House and Senate, the markets still look shaky, and the Caps can’t catch a break—when’s the last time the Washington man got to check something off in the win column? But take heart, guys: At least nowadays you can look good while listing those #firstworldproblems, thanks to a slew of cool new men’s stores that have popped up in Washington this past year, just begging to help you update your pleated khakis and tired North Faces. From 3D body scanners to yellow bow ties, here are six new ways for men to refresh their closets.
The wardrobe necessity: A suit that actually fits
Where to find it: Alton Lane
Alton Lane’s Dupont Circle showroom combines the comforts of home, the look of a private club (leather couches and Scotch on the rocks included), and a state-of-the-art 3D body scanner to create an entirely new custom suit experience for men.
And what can you expect to find on the racks? “With the colder weather, we’re selling a lot of tweed blazers and flannel suits, which are both great ways to stay warm and still express your style,” says cofounder Colin Hunter. As for opening the DC showroom after much success with the New York flagship, Hunter couldn’t be more excited: “We want to not only be a part of the [men’s style] movement in DC, but also help steer it.”
Alton Lane. 1506 19th St., NW; 646-896-1212.
Sola Biu has always known two things: She wants to help kids, and she loves repurposing vintage items. Oynx Feather, the jewelry company she began in 2009 and runs out of her Union Station apartment, combines both of these passions.
“I was chatting with my girlfriends about how we all wanted to be doing something we loved but have it matter,” says the media relations coordinator of the beginnings of her jewelry line. One of Biu’s friends encouraged her to make this dream a reality, and when boutique owners started noticing the handmade necklaces she’d wear, Biu knew she’d found the perfect combination.
Nowadays, 15 percent of every Onyx Feather purchase is donated to the Invisible Children Legacy Scholarship Fund, which Biu picked for its use of creative methods to improve the lives of impoverished children in Uganda.
“They address not only a child’s immediate physical needs, but also his or her long-term needs,” says Biu of the education-based program. “That is how you change a community and help it to rebuild.”
We recently sat down with the bubbly, put-together do-gooder to discuss building a business in DC, local designers she loves, and jewelry essentials for every Washington woman. Read on for her insights.