You know how Disney World has Tomorrowland? Well, Coterie (our fashion market) has a similar area for the up-and-coming designers…the newbies. It’s aptly called TMRW where fashion’s fresh talent showcases within the larger show and buyers can flex their creative eye by making some instinctual decisions on who may have what it takes in a very competitive environment.
As I walked the vast aisles of the main show, TMRW is a welcome break to the hustle and established routine of what buying shows are about. Here, designers are sincerely eager to have you understand their concepts. On my last Coterie trip for TSALT, this is where I found Andie Kully.
Andie Kully’s collection was a match made in buyer’s heaven for me. My tendency has been to break away from what my hometown has adopted as its style. Old Town has a tendency to be preppy. There is an East Coast sensibility that is very rooted here and has made our choices as a community driven around navy and white — especially in the spring and summer. Keeping this in mind helps when I want to add a line with a fresh perspective. Andie Kully covered this in her presentation along with the other part of a well thought out “traditional” equation…embroidery. I should be very clear however, that Andie’s styles were not Lilly Pulitzer but I knew she had part of the Lilly-proven empire in mind with her bend on what women my age would wear on holiday.
I had the pleasure of exploring the styles before Andie came back to the booth. Sometimes as a buyer you want to see clothing through your own perspective before you see it through the eye of the designer. Meeting Andie was like reacquainting yourself with a long lost friend. I found out that she grew up in Baltimore close to the same time I was growing up in Alexandria. She was wearing the same preppy styles I had been as a teen: grosgrain ribbon belts and headbands, striped shirt dresses, Pappagallo bags and LL Bean totes. Her collection felt familiar to me. This is a heart-racing moment when you stumble on something new. It’s like the Holy Grail, and you want to introduce to your community of women because you know that not only will THEY understand it but it will compliment both their lifestyle and their need for individuality — a fresh take on a traditional idea.
While getting to know Andie, I found out that she too started in Interior Design…we clearly were living a parallel lives. She also loves the beach and wanted to create a collection that would take her there…mind, body, and spirit. We started discussing Harbour Island because Andie was also reminding me of India Hicks. The same appreciation for lifestyle branding, schooled in design from one viewpoint and now utilizing her skill set in another form, clothing. The fabrics were delicious silks in dreamy colors of corals, navies, greens, and sky blues. The pieces feel as easy to wear walking along the beach in the evening as they would entertaining in your own home. The styles are exactly what I talked about in She Said, She Said — away from the body tunics that allow the natural ventilation of a breeze cool you during the summer heat.
Our first Andie Kully delivery is in store now, with more to come. If you love what you see, send me feedback and I’ll reach out to her about doing a trunk show for resort season!
I had an opportunity to ask Andie a few questions regarding her line and her summer style tips.
What inspired you to become a designer?
For me, a love of textiles and color is at the root of it. Prior to starting my clothing line, I worked as a decorator. I had my own firm, Andie Kully Interiors, and worked on projects in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Hamptons, Tuxedo Park, and Martha’s Vineyard. While working on interiors, I loved the process of composing a palate of texture and color. I was also very interested in scale and proportion and how you strike that perfect balance. As I made the transition to designing clothes, I realized you’re still playing with the same variables, just at a different scale.
Can you share the back story for this current collection?
This currently collection was very much inspired by my summers in the Hamptons and the various pieces that could carry me through the season and its various events. I’ve experimented with embroidery, pulling the leaf motif from the palm print and translating that to embroidery on the Palm Dress. I’ve been really happy with the ribbon embroidery and can’t wait to explore that more in different ways for next season.
Who is the woman you are designing for? Can you describe her lifestyle?
The woman I have in mind loves fashion, but isn’t necessarily running out to jump on the next trend. She has a busy, full life and needs clothes that aren’t too fussy or complicated, yet are chic and make her look and feel great.
Do you have a personal favorite from your collection?
Hard question! I don’t think I could choose just one favorite. I LOVE the pieces that are embroidered with ribbon like the New Island Dress. The tweed shorts are just divine! So sophisticated. I’m also crazy about the Palm Print and am loving it in the silk pieces. Today I was wearing my Palm Print Cigarette Pants walking through the West Village, and a woman stopped me on the street to tell me how much she loved them. It made my month!
How do you incorporate other designers into your own wardrobe, and do you have ideas on how to blend pieces our readers may already own with the Andie Kully collection?
I love shopping. Always have. My grandfather owned a chain of stores so perhaps retail is in my blood. Grocery store, hardware store, Neiman Marcus…it doesn’t matter. I appreciate it all. This love and patience for browsing leads to some pretty great finds, so I really do mix high and low fashion. When I splurge, I tend to go for designers that are more “girly” like Giambatista Valli, Chloe, or Valentino. I just got this great long Valentino skirt and I’ve been wearing it with a plain old white tee shirt, some old sandals, and a great Marni wooden bead necklace that I bought years ago at a sample sale. You’ll find the spectrum in my closet, from Old Navy to J.Crew to Lanvin. In my mind, it all works together! As far as incorporating pieces of my line into an existing wardrobe, I think that’s easily done with a pair of white jeans (a must have) that can easily work with the tops and a pair of sandals to work with the dresses.
Do you have a philosophy on how to build a great wardrobe?
I think it’s smart to invest is some classic staples. In my mind, some essentials are beautifully tailored blazer that fits well, a great soft cashmere wrap in a neutral color, and jeans that flatter you. I think that a great wardrobe should reflect your personality and style, not what’s “in” at the moment. Jewelry is important, too, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. A great statement piece that is fun and bold and less than $100 can really change the look of jeans and a tee! And if you do have fancy jewelry, wear it! It’s no fun tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Those special pieces paired with the most basic outfits, think jean and a tee, look amazing.
When you go on vacation, what are five key pieces you tend to pack?
White jeans to travel in as I’m usually cold on the plane. A neutral-colored light-weight wrap for evening. A great day-to-night dress like my Island Dress. A strapless black bathing suit is always elegant. Plus, who needs the funky tan lines from straps or wants to hold in their stomach all day! I’d like to say “yes” to a glass of rosé at lunch. Last, but not least, some fun gold earrings! Irene Neuwirth chandelier earrings or some simple gold hoops are great. I try to keep it simple and bring pieces that all coordinate so that I can pack only one pair of sandals and one wedge or heel. My sneakers stay at home while I’m on vacation. 😉
Where are you planning on heading this summer? What will you be packing for that location?
This June we’re headed to Provence and the Cote d’Azur, followed by Barcelona. July and August will be spent in the Hamptons. I’ll be bringing many of the pieces from my line in addition to white linen pants, some fun Dolce & Gabbana flat sandals, and my cozy cashmere Jussara Lee sweater for the plane and chilly days. The balance of the summer will be in the Hamptons where I’ll live in my gold Teeks filp flops.
What is your guilty pleasure when you can carve out some personal time?
I’m very happy watching TV in bed with a glass of champagne in hand. I also love doing jigsaw puzzles and weeding my garden. I sound like I’m eighty!
Do you have any tips to summer style that keep you looking your best even in the heat and humidity?
Wearing the hair back is always a good idea!