Today we sit down with Elizabeth Giardina, Vice President of Design at 10 Crosby Derek Lam (aka the talented mind behind those dreamy looks we swooned over yesterday), to talk about what inspires her distinct approach to design ~ everything from Instagram and elegant relatives to Alvin Ailey dancers and a bottle of fine wine…
Where are you from originally?
St. Louis, Missouri
Your background was in sculpture; what drew you to working in fashion?
My mother was interested in what she called ‘women of style’ ~ so I grew up with books about Millicent Rogers, Babe Paley, Elise de Wolfe, etc. From her, I have always been fascinated by great style and individuality. Also, as a young child I started dancing ~ mostly modern and jazz ~ and watching films and looking at photos of Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelley, and Bob Fosse. I was completely absorbed not only with how these great artists moved and created, but also how integral their costumes were to their characters. All this evolved into a love for fashion design.
I get the greatest joy from watching how people wear their clothing. I love when a woman looks entirely confident in her clothes ~ especially when I designed them! Also, I love a fitting; working with cloth three-dimensionally on a body is so satisfying.
How did you get your first ‘break’ in the business?
This job is the best one I’ve ever had, so honestly I would call it my first break. The moment I met Derek, Trevor Ballin (our creative director for Collection) and Jan Hendrick-Schlottman (our CEO), I knew I wanted to work here. All three conveyed such a passion for design and also were just so easy to be around. I knew I would have the creative space and confidence to make 10 Crosby work.
What have you found to be the unique challenges in designing a diffusion line that lives under the umbrella of a designer label?
Carving out who the 10 Crosby woman is. It took us a few seasons to figure out what kind of shapes and materials work best for our customer.
Who is the 10 Crosby woman? How is she different from the core Derek Lam customer?
The 10 Crosby customer is a modern woman; sophisticated, worldly, yet completely natural, possessing an instinctual chic, style without pretension. We like to think about how we can take classic shapes and give them a clever twist. Our customer wants true design at a contemporary price point; clothing that is a bit more relaxed and casual than Collection, that really goes from day to night and into the weekend.
You’ve said before that fabric development is an important focus for you every season, as it is an exciting point of differentiation in the contemporary market. How are you able to innovate while keeping price points accessible?
Fabric development is key ~ starting with Resort 2014 we really had the key team members in place to start making our own textiles. We put a lot of creative energy into designing and developing every part of the line from the fabrics, prints and embellishments to the final product. In order to hit our price point we have a balance of materials and details.
You’re known for your incredible jewelry collection. What is your earliest jewelry-related memory?
I have been wearing a lot of rings since I was very young. To have a conversation about my jewelry is to know me ~ I walk around every day with jewelry from family members dead and alive, old lovers and my current love. I feel that the jewelry represents who is important to me. I remember every year since I was very young, going to the jewelry store with my grandmother and mother to pick out jewelry for my grandmother to buy for my mom and aunts. I also remember every year visiting my family in San Antonio and driving across the border into Mexico with my mom specifically to go silver shopping. Jewelry has always been an important part of my life.
My favorite artist frequently changes, but since the MOMA exhibit I really appreciate Wolfgang Laib
I am happiest when I am enjoying a great bottle of wine and delicious food with friends and family
I’d like to steal a townhouse in Brooklyn where I can have multiple guest rooms and throw huge parties
I’d love to have a chance to work with the Alvin Ailey dancers
Romance is in the little moments
The thing that would surprise people most about my job is how much it is a team effort
My fashion pet peeve is faux ethnic jewelry
Every woman should own a great moisturizer and use it liberally
The key to life is living in the moment
These days, the thing I wear most often is my 10 Crosby faux pony coat
The coolest place I’ve ever been is New York! I am thrilled to live in such a creative, diverse, inspiring city where I do not have to drive
My #1 social media addiction is Instagram
Being a glamourai means being confident in yourself, knowing how to take care of yourself and wearing clothes that you feel comfortable and look great in