New York City hustling, Les Belles Heures color scheme and why is women wearing men's clothes the thing
The above snap is exactly what inspires us in how Emilie navigates all things lifestyle with such a unique flair.
Walking out of Trattoria Sostanza in Florence with a joyful smile on her face, probably following a feast including tortino di carciofi, pollo al burro and red Chianti, it is the perfect expression of those precious moments we turn into scarves through colors and prints.
Or when the joys of food, wine, friends and impeccable style come together in a perfect alchemy.
The epitome of the classy West Village New Yorker with a twist, always on the go and fond of furlane shoes and antiques, Emilie has become one of the regular friends we have so much pleasure meeting each time we can whether in Florence, Paris or New York.
Having worked her way through the world of style for more than a decade, she had contributed to the success of renowned names such as The Sartorialist, Andy Spade, Belstaff, Jason Wu and Belmond. Now in a more brand/editorial-centric role, she keeps on writing the story of a small child dreaming about clothes who now plays with the big shots.
She’s with us now, in the Journal, to tell you all about this.
Hi Emilie, thank you very much for taking the time to sit with us. Oh it’s my pleasure! I love what you do and it’s always exciting to chat.
Let’s start by the very beginnings. Where did you grow up? I grew up in New Jersey, an hour south of NYC in a pretty small horse farm town not far from the beach. I go back a lot now and appreciate the quiet, but when I was growing up I thought it was boring and wanted to be in a city like most rural kids.
Now you’re living in New York right. What’s your relation to the city? My family brought us into the city a lot growing up and I fell in love with it more every year. They were good about exposing us to theatre, museums, old restaurants and spending weekends exploring. It always felt so special. My uncle would take me to fancy bars as a kid and teach me about hosting a cocktail party, I guess he didn’t like “kid things.” I just wanted to experience all of that and eventually moved to NYC to go to fashion school.
How does it influence your work as a creative? New York has everything to do with everything! I can’t imagine what life would be like without having been raised in the fashion world around so many eccentric people, some who take you under their wing and some who don’t–– a combination that keeps you humble and evolving. The ability to expose yourself to so much creativity everywhere, to so many ideas, and to hustle before maybe even knowing what that means––it’s very New York. I haven’t felt that balance of collaborative creativity, independence and wild, can-do ambition anywhere else.
What initially attracted you to pursuing a career in the world of style? I was obsessed with clothes when I was a kid and strangely took to dressing in character, which helped when I became an American Girl model––you know, the dolls. I would wear dresses and berets or dress like the characters I was exposed to in books––I liked the stories and the history that went into style. I would make albums of advertisements and look at fashion tv, magazines, books and collage everything. I went to business school initially and they assigned a case study on Kate and Andy Spade. I wrote an application to FIT the next day and they had me go to summer school before accepting me. Commuting to the city every morning in the summer and dropping a scholarship pretty fast made me realize how understood I felt in the fashion world and that I had to make it work.
You did so many things and worked with so many inspiring brands and people in this industry. Would you give us a brief chronological tour of your journey so far? Oh wow, thank you! I started really young and didn’t have expectations. I’d pack boxes or make invoices, work on clothing production at the factories, I was willing to do any task and those things all came in handy later. Kate & Andy Spade hired me first as an intern, it was the most inventive, curious place I’d ever seen. I went to assist with a few menswear brands, had stints in photo production on big editorial shoots and then in a couture atelier. I loved the relaxed nature of menswear, lack of drama and focus on the clothes. I met The Sartorialist and he hired me to build the site out with him––that changed my life––as did working with Andy Spade yet again, more closely, to launch Sleepy Jones. Andy’s humorous perspective is so rare, he taught me to be in on the joke and let others in too. I liked doing a little bit of everything and still do, but I wanted a better understanding of global branding and marketing and went to do that with Belstaff. The company moved to England and I started freelancing with them and Mr Porter who I did talent casting with. It was the first time I freelanced and that independence inspired me to up and go to London where I consulted with a travel magazine and luxury leather goods brand. Lately, I’ve been working as an editor, copywriter and strategist with luxury brands, men’s and women’s, and writing articles. I like heritage brands and unique people with an offbeat story. If I could work outdoors, with tailors or in natural food and wine a lot more I would, maybe later!
What have been the most exciting experiences? Being part of the beginning stages and final part of something––working on a strategy and watching it happen. It makes me feel like I’m contributing to something much greater than myself, I love to help people in realizing their vision. You know that feeling! Living abroad has been the single most important thing. Leaving resources behind and learning to navigate a new place, a new industry, it puts everything in perspective and makes you realize your own independence.
Where you did learn the most? I’ve learned so much from everyone, but my experience with Scott Schuman was very formative as well as Andy Spade and the collective of Loden Dager. They were my first major work experiences with wildly inventive people. I learned how to see. But, mostly, from traveling and being outside of my comfort zone.
Who is the person that inspired you the most? Anyone who believed in young talent. All of the people I just mentioned and my boss at Belstaff. They were able to see what I was good at and help me to become closer to it, not fit into a box. I think that’s the point of all of this and what we’re really meant to do for each other.
Speaking of inspiring people, we recently had a chat with Gerardo Cavaliere about - amongst other things - applying menswear classics to womenswear, a thing he does with so much talent at GiulivaHeritage Collection; Yolanda Edwards also described her style as “a bit on the classic, tomboy end of the spectrum”. Why are women wearing men’s clothes so relevant nowadays? I think women are feeling secure and interested in dressing for themselves, and that translates in their style. Wearing men’s clothes takes a certain level of confidence and self knowledge, even just understanding that you like to wear them as a woman. It’s not what’s expected or the norm but a woman often looks her most feminine because of that––it looks natural because she feels natural. Most of the women I know and admire have a tailored sensibility about them. If they dressed any other way, in something frilly or tight, it wouldn’t represent their evolved approach to life. That sensibility translates to everything they’re interested in, from furniture to travel to point of view.
You worked on the launch of a project around that concept, called Homme Girls. Would you tell us more about that? Homme Girls is an editorial development by Thakoon. He noticed that the women around him, who are very cool women, all shared that evolved approach I was just chatting about. They want things that are tailored, they like the way men’s clothes are made and fit. They understand drape. Menswear is often superior to womenswear because of attention to detail and a more sophisticated fit. Many women now aren’t looking for cropped suit jackets or clothes nipped at the waist. He recognized that and wanted to help women navigate it. I worked with him in the initial stages to help develop what Homme Girls would be, how it collaborates with the world. Hopefully, women feel more understood, represented and educated in a way that’s sincere to their perspective.
Homme Girls’ manifesto says that “Wearing clothes demands style.(...) it also takes balls.” What is style to you? I think wearing clothes that feel true to you takes a lot of experimentation and self-knowledge. To me, that is style: getting to that place and going with it. Not getting to a place that’s dictated by others, simply rolling with what you’re into. If someone has that, you remember them no matter what they’re wearing.
How does it relate to attitude? Style communicates so much. Someone’s posture alone, their mannerisms or the way they walk can say whether or not they’re relaxed in their own skin. And those who are relaxed, who have little to prove, you see it and you feel it.
We first met right in front of our booth at last Pitti Uomo in Florence; you were wearing that fantastic white linen suit from J.Mueser, a pair of furlane and a Panama hat. How would you describe your own personal style? Thank you, that suit is fantastic. I wore it every day and just changed my shirt, hair bandana or ribbon, and slipper color. That made everything easy and, honestly, nobody cares if you wore something the day before, even in a crazy detail-oriented menswear crowd. I wear a variation of the same thing most of the time, some mix of tailoring, country clothes and Italian grandmother style...simple, kind of preppy and worn in. Whatever that is, it feels about right.
What are the basics of your wardrobe, items you always feel so good wearing no matter what? Anything that J.Mueser makes. A velvet suit from the Tom Ford era, old Gucci men’s loafers, RL Purple Label blazers from eBay. My boyfriend’s old oxfords tied with a velvet ribbon. Bandanas, a braid, and velvet slippers.
What’s your take on uniform dressing? Do you practice it? To say I feel strongly about it would be an understatement! I think that a personal uniform is one of the greatest things. Even with more mass uniforms, like school uniforms, there’s great power in the freedom and individuality you can find within that structure. I wore a uniform in high school and it made me pay attention to small details like scarves, shoes (doc martens at the time..) socks and, most importantly, character.
You also wear a lot of scarves. What makes a great scarf to you? Well, we’re here because your scarves are so good that they stopped me in my tracks at Pitti Uomo. And that was because of the color scheme––nuanced and nostalgic but completely refreshing. Soft mints, melons, yellows that made me want to run for the coast. That’s the power of fabric, of a scarf! A good scarf pulls you together, it’s romantic yet useful and adds a touch of character. And, for travel, it’s light, airy, silky but durable.
How do you wear it? I wear my hair in a braid with a bandana or scarf tied at the end all summer––if a scarf isn’t precious it can help with the sweat and you also feel put together. Otherwise, tied twice around my neck under an oxford, twisted thinly with a dress or sweater. Tied around my waist or head at the beach.
Tell us more about scarves and travel. They’re brilliant for travel. Like velvet slippers, they take up no space but elevate your look and are interchangeable if you, like me, enjoy packing light and wearing the same thing all of the time. Or just wearing the same thing all of the time.
How would you describe LBH in 3 words? Elegant, cool, genuine.
Now a few rapid-fire questions; what are your favorite brands/designers? Ralph Lauren, Agnes B., Old Gucci, Drake’s, Hermes, J.Mueser, Brooks Brothers boys dept, Santa Maria Novella & Buly1803.
Style icons? Japanese buyers, Argentinian gauchos and English countryside style.
Favorite vacation spot? Italy! Or places where I can surf.
Best place to eat in Florence? Cammillo, of course!
Who would you like to read next in our Style talk series? Camille Becerra.Sounds great! It has been so cool Emilie thank you so much for your time, means a lot to us. Thank YOU! Until next time!!