2015 Critics

Reem AcraReem Acra, Special Occasion

Reem Acra launched her fashion business in 1997 with a bridal collection that quickly became recognized for its elegance and impeccable designs. This success led to the introduction of the Reem Acra prêt-à-porter collection six years later, which is marked by its rich colors, lush fabrics, playful patterns, and modern aesthetic.

While attending the American University of Beirut, Acra was discovered by a fashion editor who saw her in a gown she’d made from her mother’s dining room tablecloth, and offered to host a fashion show for her. Following the serendipitous encounter, Acra studied at FIT and in Paris at École supérieure des arts et techniques de la mode (ESMOD).

Acra has dressed global icons of style for weddings, red carpet appearances, and awards ceremonies. Her following includes established stars like Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé, and Halle Berry; up-and-coming talents like Kristen Stewart and Taylor Swift; and royal families around the world. Her ready-to-wear and bridal collections are carried by some of the world’s most exclusive retailers, including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S., with an international presence in luxury retail outlets in more than two dozen countries. Acra is a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and serves on the board of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council.

Victoria BartlettVictoria Bartlett, Sportswear

Born in Gloucester, England, Victoria Bartlett graduated from the London College of Fashion with a degree in fashion design. She learned time-honored couture craftsmanship assisting Rhavis of London. After moving to New York, Bartlett introduced a collection, BC, with Jeffery Costello in 1989. She then moved on to fashion illustration before launching her acclaimed styling career. She worked as a fashion editor at Allure and as fashion director for Interview and Big magazines, and has created fashion editorials for ID, Italian Vogue, L’uomo Vogue, Numero, and French Vogue, among other publications. Her celebrity clients for advertising campaigns and consulting projects include Madonna, Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, and Scarlett Johansson. Her fashion clients have included Theory, as fashion director, Miss Sixty, Armani Exchange, Miu Miu, where she launched the brand identity, Versace, Calvin Klein, Christian Lacroix and many more.

Recognizing the demand for utilitarian yet stylish undergarments that can be mixed, matched, and layered, Bartlett founded her brand, VPL, to fill the niche between lingerie and sportswear in fall
2003. The VPL aesthetic is rooted in the comfort, functionality, and style imperative to a woman’s everyday uniform. The line, which has been sold in over 25 countries, transitioned through a high-end contemporary collection, including swim, shoes, and accessories. In spring 2014, VPL transitioned into a fashion-active line, encompassing a performance-based collection, in response to a demand for fashion-forward fitness attire.

VPL has allowed Bartlett to pursue her true passion for design, though she continues to do consulting and styling. The brand received the Ecco Domani award in 2006 and a CFDA award in 2012. VPL was a finalist for the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award and the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund in 2007, and for an International Woolmark award in 2012.

Morgan CurtisMorgan Curtis, Intimate Apparel

Born in New York City, Morgan Curtis is the third generation in a family of fashion. Inspired in large part by her mother, renowned designer Jill Stuart, Curtis set off on a similar path. Growing up, she expressed her creative energy through oil painting and illustration. After earning a degree in fashion design from Cornell University and attending Central Saint Martin’s, she began designing for the Jill Stuart brand, where she has collaborated since 2009. Through that experience and her recent series of doll paintings, Curtis realized her desire to combine her two biggest passions: illustration and lingerie. She wanted to tell a story using both mediums, and Morgan Lane was born.

Morgan Lane launched with lingerie and sleepwear for Resort 2014. For Curtis, lingerie is the most essential piece of fashion and the closest to her heart. The brand is represented by an image from Curtis’s personal illustrations — a doll named Lanie. Lanie is a muse of sorts who defines the playfulness, enchantment, seduction, and mischief of the Morgan Lane girl.

Curtis has developed Lanie to identify her brand, with packaging, embroideries, and even a custom lace using the signature Lanie image. Curtis’s attention to detail, use of modern fabrics and hardware, and love for classic elegance have allowed her to deliver a one-of- a-kind collection.

2015_critic_annalise_frankAnnalise Frank, Knitwear

When Annalise Frank was 7, her mother taught her to sew. By the time she went to high school, she was knitting her own designs. The Nashville native moved to New York to study fashion design at FIT, making her mark at school shows and at New York Fashion Week. As an intern for Twinkle by Wenlan, she used her well-honed hand-knitting skills to create the accessories for the brand’s 2009 show at Fashion Week. From New York, she went to Italy where she studied knitwear at Politecnico di Milano. Her firm foundation in design and a global perspective gave her a solid start in the fashion industry.

She started her career at Abercrombie & Fitch, where she quickly moved up to oversee the sweaters line for its intimates brand Gilly Hicks. Her expertise in textiles and passion for quality knitwear made her a valuable resource at A&F. While there, Frank began to explore new ways to express her love of textures and pattern, even outside the design office. A self-taught weaver, she’s done large-scale installations for independent boutique Tigertree in Columbus, OH.

In 2014, Frank returned to New York to oversee the women’s sweaters department for American Eagle Outfitters. In her short time at the company, she has already helped design a successful fourth-quarter assortment. Frank, with her eye for color, pattern, stitch, and trend, is a driving force for America’s leading teen retailer.

Tess GibersonTess Giberson, Knitwear

The Tess Giberson brand speaks to an expanding global audience of strong, empowered women. The line is recognized for its cool, effortless, and creative aesthetic with a distinct knitwear component. Tess Giberson began her career at Calvin Klein after graduating from RISD in 1996. In 2001, Giberson officially launched the Tess Giberson line. The brand garnered accolades from Barneys New York, which picked up the premiere collection, and from prestigious specialty stores across the United States, Japan, and France. Applauded by the art community as well, Giberson has displayed designs in exhibitions such as the 2003 Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum Triennial; “Skin and Bones” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Los Angeles; and “New York Fashion” at the Victoria & Albert Museum, in London.

In 2005, TSE Cashmere, recognizing her craftsmanship and creativity, hired Giberson as creative director. The knowledge acquired from that global brand paved the way to expanding the Tess Giberson wholesale business worldwide. In fall 2010, she re-launched the line and opened her first retail space in Soho, New York, with projections to open additional locations over the next several years.

Giberson has been a member of the CFDA since 2011. Her collection is sold at prestigious stores such as Barneys New York and Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S., Ron Herman and Isetan in Japan, and Boon the Shop and Lotte in Korea. As the company continues to evolve, the brand still preserves the creative spirit it has had since its inception.

Azede Jean-PierreAzede Jean-Pierre, Sportswear

Azede Jean-Pierre is a young women’s wear designer based in New York City. Since its inception, her namesake label has been committed to celebrating the sensual femininity of its customer. It pushes the boundaries of functionality and innovation through exploring technique and achieving balance in wearability and design. Jean-Pierre was born in Haiti and raised in Atlanta. She attended Savannah College of Art and Design and in her third year decided to pursue the launch of her own label. She later moved to New York and honed her skills interning at Ralph Rucci and Ohne Titel. Jean-Pierre debuted her first fall/winter collection in February 20l2. The collection, which utilized high-end fabrics, was well received by the press and was photographed by some of the industry’s leading publications, landing the cover of WWD after New York Fashion Week.

Jean-Pierre’s collection has been picked up by Moda Operandi; Chalk Boutique, in Chicago; VOD boutique, in Dallas; and Tinker Tailor. It is also distributed through its online store. The label has been featured in major publications and has become a red-carpet favorite for several stylish and influential celebrities like First Lady Michelle Obama, Lady Gaga, and Solange Knowles. Recently invited to the White House by the First Lady for the inaugural Celebration of Design, Jean-Pierre was among the designers (including Zac Posen, Naeem Khan, Maria Cornejo, and the Marchesa ladies) who presented workshops for students. Last season she was featured in Glamour magazine’s “Changing the Future of Fashion.” The brand has been steadily growing, and is quickly establishing itself as a label to watch; Style.com calls it “the next big thing.”

Phillip LimPhillip Lim, Sportswear

Phillip Lim was born in Southeast Asia to Chinese immigrants who fled to Southern California to escape Cambodia’s civil war. His mother was a seamstress and his father was a professional poker player. While his mother had an early influence on him, Lim didn’t fantasize about being a designer. He studied finance for three years at California State University in Long Beach, where it became evident he was in the wrong major and he switched to a degree in home economics.

While working at Barneys in Beverly Hills, Lim came across Katayone Adeli’s collection and was moved to call the designer’s office and ask to work for her. Despite not knowing what a portfolio was, he got an internship and eventually earned a position with her design team. When Adeli relocated to New York, Lim remained in L.A. and co-founded the label Development. After four years there, Lim left L.A. for New York and launched 3.1 Phillip Lim with business partner and friend Wen Zhou in 2005.

His line of youthfully elegant wardrobe classics with a twist was quickly embraced and celebrated by critics, fashion editors, and customers alike. Lim’s talent is reflected in accolades such as the 2006 Fashion Group International’s Women’s Designer Rising Star Award and the 2007 CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear. In June 2012, Lim was awarded his second CFDA Swarovski Award, this time for menswear. Today, 3.1 Phillip Lim includes women’s wear, menswear, children’s wear, accessories, and shoes.

Bonnie Young, Children’s Wear

Bonnie Young is an American designer who lives by a global philosophy. She infuses a nomadic glamour and timeless quality into all her pieces. Young has over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, including 16 years as the creative director of Donna Karan.

In 2007, Young launched her children’s luxury and couture brand and opened her first freestanding retail store in Aspen. In 2011, she expanded her eponymous children’s collection to include women’s wear. Young’s work has been featured in Vogue; WWD; O, The Oprah Magazine; The Saturday Telegraph, Milk Magazine, The New York Times, Arab News, and Town & Country.
The brand has incredible visibility in The Middle East through various commissions including designing the clothing for the wedding party for the Saudi Royal family in January 2013, as well as an exclusive collection for The Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar. Recently the brand collaborated and designed costumes for the “Capitol Children” for the Hunger Games Mockingjay film to be released in November 2015.

Young has curated a series of international exhibitions of her photography, and published Colours of the Vanishing Tribes, a collection of photographs taken during her world travels for the Donna Karan Company. She is the founder of Fashion Fights for Children’s Rights, an initiative to align her brand with various children’s charities.

Nicholas KNicholas K, Sportswear

Nicholas K, launched in 2005 by sister-and-brother-team Nicholas and Christopher Kunz, offers exceptionally well crafted, versatile clothing that not only looks and feels good but moves, travels, and performs in step with the 21st-century consumer. Their luxurious everyday sportswear with an urban edge includes outerwear, knits, shirts, and denim for men and women.

A member of the CFDA since 2009 and the opening show of IMG Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York since 2011, Nicholas K is featured in top publications around the globe, including Esquire, Details, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Lucky, The New York Times Magazine, and i-D. Their garments appeared in the movie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and they are collaborating with the movie stylists for the upcoming sequels.

Nicholas Kunz

Nicholas Kunz studied fashion design at FIT and at Polimoda School of Design in Florence, Italy. She has designed men’s and women’s wear at DKNY, and went on to launch men’s and women’s apparel for John Varvatos while at Nautica. She later consulted on nearly every major American fashion brand, including Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Polo Ralph Lauren, before launching Nicholas K.

Christopher Kunz

Christopher Kunz worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory offering marketing and strategic positioning expertise to early-stage companies. In fashion, he worked as a model in New York, Milan, and Asia and on the retail side for Polo Ralph Lauren. An expert outdoorsman, he developed his design skills and sensibility from his many interests and love of product design. He is a self-taught fabricator, designing and constructing a variety of products such as an ultra-light bivy, mountaineering pack, and expedition trailer.

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