Runway News

Designer Stephanie Waldrip on Art, Fashion and Keeping It Made in America

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In only 2 years, designer Stephanie Waldrip has made quite a mark in fashion, having already dressed a certain pop star in something a bit more timeless than a meat dress. And what is going to continue to make her a household name is what her brand stands for: timeless silhouettes in rich textiles with that perfect combination of luxury and utility, which is what every modern woman needs. Having studied at the rigorous Savannah College of Art and Design, she comes with an education that shows in her production quality and choice of fabrication. We sat down to chat with the visionary behind this new American brand right after shooting our Queen of the Castle story featuring looks from Waldrip's Spring and Fall collections.

theFashionSpot: It was by sheer coincidence that we chose to shoot this Waldrip story at the Bond Street Equestrian Farm only to learn that Waldrip was strongly influenced by The Wild Horses of Sable Island. Can you speak to how those photos translated to the new collection?

Stephanie Waldrip: The photos are really majestic. I highly recommend everyone goes to check out the collection of photos by Roberto Dutesco at his studio in Soho — trust me, it is worth the trip! The emotions captured in every photograph leave you feeling like you are in a dream world. I get lost in the romance of each photo. Roberto Dutesco captured the sheer beauty of the horses and really showcased the impressiveness of everything from the body language of each horse to their silky coats. I found the photographs to be both romantic and classic and attempted to carry those characteristics to my collection. I say this because the collection as a whole has an understated beauty with elements that are are more striking and bold versus last season which was on the softer and prettier side.

tFS: Textiles are very important to your process; what fabrications do you incorporate to make women feel luxurious?

SW: I find that I always incorporate French jacquard. This actually is not a conscious decision but it just somehow always happens this way. The French textile designers really know how to make a woman feel special. For my last collection, the jacquard was woven in the heart of Paris on a one-of-a-kind loom. It makes the final piece much more special to me when I know the history behind the fabric. 

tFS: We love how cobalt makes a splash in this new collection, what are your thought on colors for fall and what colors will make a splash for spring. 

SW: For Fall, I am all about winter whites and a stunning emerald. For Spring, I'm into nectarine, melon, denim blue and geometric patterns of graphic black and white.

tFS: The bodysuit seems to be a staple in your collections, will you be getting into swimwear for 2014?

SW: I have been playing around with the idea of developing a swimwear resort collection that also focuses on easy pieces to wear while traveling. I have so many ideas for easy resort pieces that I would like to make it a reality, so stay tuned for next year!

tFS: There's an exciting contrast between proportion in your Fall collection, will that continue for Spring?

SW: Yes definitely. I always play with proportions but I like to keep it tame — it should always be the woman that wears the clothes not the other way around.

tFS: How did your studies at SCAD influence your work and how has that experience melded into the pace and energy of NYC?

SW: I chose not to go straight to NYC for school because I knew my path would lead me there eventually. SCAD is not your average “college.”  It is a serious game changer and I would only recommend it to people who are serious about what they want in life. I chose to go there because I knew I had to be focused and dedicated if I was going to accomplish my goals. It’s a very competitive school with great incentives and definitely prepared me for the challenges NYC was going to throw my way.

tFS: Has your Colombian heritage played a role in the Waldrip aesthetic?

SW: My heritage, without a doubt, plays a big role in our aesthetic. First off with the textiles — Colombians love texture and luxe fabrication. We also appreciate an understated sex appeal — it's all about being sensual but classic at the same time.

tFS: How important is it to keep production in NYC and what are the ups and downs of doing so?

SW: It is very important to me to keep production in NYC. I work with a great team here in the city and that includes the individuals who work at the garment factories in the garment district. I would feel too far removed from the operations if I sent my production abroad. It also provides better quality control for me to examine each item before we ship to a customer. At this stage in my business, I do not think it is possible to be "too" hands on or "too" involved in every aspect and production is a huge part of the business.

tFS: What's been the highlight of your career and what's your next big goal for Waldrip? 

SW: The highlight has been dressing showstopping celebs like Lady Gaga and getting pickup by some of my favorite stores like Shopbop. Our goal moving forward is to keep growing and continue to grow our global presence.

To learn more and find a Waldrip retailer near you visit Waldrip here.

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