» ELLE: Whitney Port Talks Whitney Eve (and Kelly Cutrone!)
It’s tough to be a memorable character in the revolving door world of reality TV. Tougher still to be memorable in a way that wouldn’t make your parents cringe. But anyone who has caught even a single MTV scene with intern-turned-designer Whitney Port, either on vintage episodes of The Hills, where we first met her back in 2006, or on her current show, The City, knows right away there’s something very different about her.
She’s…nice. Like, authentically, at her core, not just doing it for the cameras, nice.
It’s because of this that when we watch her, we hate it when we see her get the short end of someone else’s drama—which, unfortunately, is often—and whether it’s in love or in the war that is the fashion industry, we really, really root for her. As does Bravo reality star, author, and People’s Revolution founder, Kelly Cutrone, who, in a cameo on The City two weeks ago demonstrated that in an uncharacteristically moving moment (don’t pretend you didn’t tear up) with the 25-year-old after her first runway show during Fashion Week at Bryant Park.
After speaking with Whitney this afternoon on everything from the inspirations behind her SS10 and FW10 collections to her love for all things Alex Wang, I can say with some degree of authority that she really is the kind girl you see on your screen every Tuesday, and the kind of girl you’d want in your corner.
Last September, you got the chance to see your first Whitney Eve collection come down the runway at Bryant Park. Describe how that felt.
It was crazy. I felt like I blacked out or something, like it just happened in an instant, and then it was over. You put in all this effort—you realize when you’re backstage that fashion isn’t just fun and games—and then you get to see all your hard work come to fruition. It was overwhelming and very emotional.
That first collection, Spring 2010, what was the concept behind it?
It was Alice in Wonderland goes to a cocktail party. I wanted a fairy tale aesthetic to the pieces but also make them very wearable. It was a very LA-inspired collection, whereas my Fall 2010 was more New York-influenced.
Was there any crossover from your first collection to your second?
No, it was a more of a departure. It was still feminine but also kind of glam rock, which was very different from my first collection. Coming from LA, I’m not used to layering or the kind of heavy textures you wear in a New York winter. Literally, all you’ll ever need there to keep warm is a sweater! Creating a Fall collection was a challenge, but having been in New York for a couple of years now, I’m getting the hang of it.
Do you have any favorites from your first two collections? Things that are well-incorporated into your own wardrobe?
There are two from my Spring collection that I really love. There’s this metallic, oversized, striped jacket that I can wear with almost everything in my closet: over a cocktail dress, with nice shorts, everything. The other one is this watercolor-print ‘flounce’ dress. It’s just really figure-flattering and pretty, and something you can easily dress up or down.
One thing a lot of designers say is that once they discover there’s a business side to the industry, they lose some of their enthusiasm for the profession—has that happened to you yet?
Definitely. I mean, I used to think of fashion design as a kind of art project, all creativity and passion. I wasn’t thinking ‘big picture’ at all. Even though I decided against being a business major at USC [she ended up with a Gender Studies degree], I’ve found that I really enjoy that part of my job now. There are days when I get overwhelmed and pulled in different directions, but I find it empowering to be a part of the whole process, start to finish.
Your relationship with Kelly Cutrone is really endearing. She doesn’t like everyone, but you can tell she really likes you from the way she champions your career.
She is my mentor, for sure. I’ve known her for four years now, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her support.
What has been the best piece of advice she’s given you?
That ‘no one gets anywhere by being average.’ She put it so simply, and it’s so true. Even if people don’t get you at first, she said, if you’re different and you’re doing something interesting, people will eventually see it. I think about that all the time while I design.
What part of the fashion design process do you think you’re strongest at? Where do you think you still need some improvement?
I know where I need to improve, and that’s focusing my ideas and creating a cohesive collection. I’m still learning right now. But you know, years down the road, I hope I’m still saying that. I want to always be learning. As for my strength…oh gosh. I guess that would be my dedication. I really do put everything, all my time into my work.
Which designers’ clothing do you like to mix with your pieces?
Definitely Alexander Wang. I love him. I really look up to him, actually. He’s got this awesome eye, and what he designs is just so different from everything else out there. I also think Moschino Cheap & Chic and Rachel Comey are really great. Oh, and vintage! I love incorporating vintage pieces with my own.
If you had $5K to spend anywhere in NYC, where would you go, and what would you buy first?
Oh my gosh…that’s so hard! I guess I’d go to Jeffrey. You know, this might surprise people, but what I really want and what I’m really working toward is a Chanel suit. I’d really like to have one that I could wear forever—a really classic one.
» Posted On May 14, 2010 and Filed Under Magazines With View Comments