With a background in costume design from her time studying at FIT, and an eye for fifties silhouettes (with a Victorian hint tossed in), newcomer Julianna Bass has produced a collection that on mere first glance was so breathtaking that German Vogue and WWD have pronounced her an upcoming designer to watch. We couldn’t agree more and sat down to talk to her about the pressures of starting your own label, her disdain for the leggings trend, and her wacky obsession with collecting vintage pocket watches.
Your spring/summer '09 pieces have a fifties-esque feel to them. What was it about the era which you find inspiring?
I was involved in costume design during my FIT studies, so I have always been interested in different eras, in particular the 1950’s and the Victorian times, which inspire my spring/summer '09 collection. I like taking things to the extreme, playing with shape, silhouette, and volume.
Structure and silhouette are strong components of your work complete with bows and dramatic expression. Is that a reflection of your own personal style?
Yes and no. I think the dramatic element is more a reflection of my personality. My own personal style is more subdued. I am more interested in vintage pieces and vintage jewelry. If I had the guts, I would wear a vintage hat every day.
Who are your favorite designers?
My favorite designers of all time are Christian Lacroix and Vivienne Westwood. The way they portray their collections is a work of art. I strive to be like that!
What has been the most challenging aspect to setting up your own label?
Trying to pair the business side whilst maintaining a sense of creativity. People don’t realize this is a business. They think it’s a fairy tale. There is so much groundwork which goes into setting up your own label.
What trends do you like this season?
For spring, I like the mixture of vibrant colors: the bold, unexpected block of colors, and neutrals. I also liked the structured organza. I was really inspired by Giles Deacon’s collection.
What trends do you wish would just go away?
I have to say the leggings trend, which is everywhere. It is a convenient look, but it's getting old and needs to die. As for colored tights — no, no, no!
What has been the best advice you've received?
Not to let the industry get the best of you. It is a cutthroat business, so keep your integrity.
Where do you shop?
Mostly vintage stores. I love Stella Dallas, which is located near where I live in Williamsburg.
Which designers do you actually wear the most?
I have plenty of vintage Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs. The piece I always end up falling back on is an Oscar de la Renta vintage silk-crêpe tuxedo blouse, which is pleated all the way down the front.
Do you have your eye on anything right now?
I covet wacky, abstract hats. I also collect vintage pocket watches. I own about six, which I ransacked a few years ago from my grandmother’s closet.
What should every woman have in her wardrobe?
A pair of oxford heels and a black pencil skirt.
What can’t you live without?
A cover-up stick for under-eye bags and Thursday-night TV!
Juliana Bass is currently carried at Forest Boutique, 242 W. 10th St., nr. Bleecker St.; 212-255-7573.
Read more posts by Davina Catt