I don’t believe in luck, just in hard work

Internationally renown fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff has toured the world with her popular apparel and accessories lines.

Now she is in Bermuda showing off her Spring/ Summer Collection, as part of the weeklong events and activities in honour or the Third annual City of Hamilton’s Fashion Festival.

Ms Minkoff, who is visiting the Island for the first time, told The Royal Gazette she was “really excited” to be able to participate in the events, and help inspire, and get people excited about fashion.

During the remainder of her stay, she will get to speak with some of the Island’s emerging fashion designers. Her advice to them would be to “work hard, and have a smart plan, and just persist at it” — with that recipe Ms Minkoff believes that anything is possible.

She said: “I don’t really believe in luck, I just believe in hard work and persistence, so if that’s what they take as a lesson [from their time with me] and get success from it, that is what I want.”

Ms Minkoff said her love for fashion began when she was just eight-years-old and had spotted a pretty dress in a store, back in her hometown of San Diego, California.

“My mom refused to buy it for me, but she said ‘I will teach you how to sew instead’ and that was how she raised me,” the designer said.

“She taught me that ‘If you want something I won’t buy it for you, but I will buy you the things to make it, and pay for the class’. So that’s hard to hear when you are young and just want the item, but in the end it got me passionate about sewing, and designing.”

When her sewing and design skills began to surpass that of her mother, Ms Minkoff was encouraged to take formal lessons with a professional designer in Florida.

Then at age 18, she moved to New York “because I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do besides fashion.”

In 2001, she launched a five piece apparel line, but her first taste of success came after making an ‘I Love New York’ T-shirt, which made it onto Jay Leno and a US Weekly Magazine.

She said: “I had actual clothes that were way more complicated, but the ‘I Love New York’ tee was something I had done on a whim.

“I had been in the Caribbean and liked how they cut their T-shirts, and I had just done that for myself, and an actress had wanted it so I made it for her.

“It was a great thing because it got my name out there, but it wasn’t necessarily showcasing my talent. It helped me, so that I could call a boutique and say ‘I have a clothing line’ and they would let me come and show it to them.”

Ms Minkoff said it was “a good starting point” and helped to “grease the wheels” to her budding career.

In 2005, the designer took a stab at making handbags. She said it was never her intention to become and accessories designer, but the handbags took off in such a big way she decided to shift her focus a bit.

“I decided to just focus on accessories and thought it best to become known for one individual thing and then go back to clothing,” she explained.

“Unless you are going to make everything yourself, you need a really great team, and it’s a little bit more complicated fitting a woman’s body in clothes versus with an accessory. So I just wanted to focus on that, stake my territory and then expand from there.”

Her first attempt was called the ‘Morning After Bag’ — a name inspired by the fact she was “young and single in New York City,” she said, with a laugh.

The name was also thought of to signify the connection and “love affair” that many women have with their bags. “They have experiences in life that their bags are always there for, so rather than being the name of a girl or a street, it was more like ‘let’s connect it to an experience’,” she said.

These days her designs can be found on everyday women, as well as celebrities like Lauren Conrad, Keira Knightley, Ashley Greene, Halle Berry and Reese Witherspoon.

Seeing her creations in magazines and at red carpet events was “validating” for her as a designer. “I think people who look up to those specific celebrities, like their style and want to emulate it, so it’s great for getting the brand more well known,” she said.

But Ms Minkoff wants her legacy to be about more than “just the logo”. She wants to be remembered for creating a lifestyle brand that speaks to women because it’s well designed and a quality product.

For her, fashion is a way for people to show the world who they are on the inside. “With fashion, you are basically communicating who you are and your taste and giving a bit of your soul to people through what you look like,” she said.

The designer takes inspiration from the rush and fast pace of city life. She is also inspired by the many countries she gets to travel to for work — and said she could definitely be motivated by the beautiful scenery in Bermuda.

Ms Minkoff was invited to the Island by local fashionista, Shiona Turini, the founder of online fashion magazine StyleBermuda.

Ms Turini wanted her to be the first international designer to take part in the City’s Fashion Week — in part, to show locals about other avenues available in the fashion industry, besides modelling.

She also believed that the designer’s colourful patterns and prints were “very relatable to the lifestyle here” and would be a hit with local women.

Ms Minkoff locally debuted 15 looks from her Spring/ Summer Collection, at an invite-only event on Tuesday evening.

Some of her pieces will be available in the autumn at accessories store Lusso on Reid Street, Hamilton; Cecile’s is carrying some items from the brand already.

Ms Turini was also instrumental in organising for other fashion industry professionals to participate in the City’s ‘Evolution’ Fashion Show, taking place on Saturday night.

She said there was potential for the Island to become a small fashion hub of sorts; and admitted there was “just as much talent here as any other country”.

“We have a smaller pool because we have less people, but talent is talent. It doesn’t matter where you come from,” Ms Turini explained.

From: Royalgazette.com