A couple of weeks ago, operatic soprano Raquel Suarez and I had the privilege to attend one of Lifestyle and Charity Magazine’s socialite parties. The chosen venue for their September 22nd event was none other than rising designer Lauren Gabrielson‘s new SOHO boutique. Guests were able to sip, shop and learn about the evening’s chosen charity spotlight, City Harvest. The magazine, which highlights and supports many fantastic philanthropic foundations, frequently has events like their MAG Socialite parties to raise awareness and give exposure to both up and coming designers and awesome organizations you should know about.
For those of you who may not know, City Harvest is a wonderful charity that distributes food to people in need in all 5 boroughs of New York City, and has done so for the past 25 years. This year, thanks to the efforts of countless New Yorkers, City Harvest will be able to collect and distribute over 30 million pounds of excess food from all areas of NYC’s food industry. This is by no means an easy feat, but thanks to continued exposure and selfless acts of kindness, City Harvest can continue it’s mission, “to end hunger in communities throughout NYC by food rescue and distribution, education and other practical, innovative solutions.”
After about 15 minutes of browsing the designer’s swanky boutique and meeting some of Lifestyle and Charity Magazine’s contributors, Raquel and I were able to interview the evening’s hostess, Lauren Gabrielson.
The young, fresh-faced designer has been turning heads since graduating from Michigan State’s Department of Art and Art History. The school (as Lauren explained) has ties with FIT, and allows students the opportunity to study with their visiting student program. Promptly after finishing school, Lauren starting working as an assistant designer for Ginny Hilfiger and her line Ginny H. “It was really a great experienced,” said the designer “…it was during my time at Ginny H that I gained a lot of initial support and was just told to run with my it!”
“It” being her own line of made to measure, accessibly priced women’s clothing. While most other designers might cringe at the thought of constantly tailoring their designs to fit perfectly, to Lauren Gabrielson, it’s all part of what brought her success. “Women would come to me in the Hamptons looking for a dress for something like a White or Pink Party for instance, and they all had trouble finding a simple, classic silhouette, in a simple, attractive color that just fit them well! I was surprised, but it was really something difficult to come by… and I feel, if you’re going to spend a few hundred dollars on a dress, it should be something you can wear next season too.” A novel thought from a 23 year old midwesterner turned New York City fashion designer and entrepreneur.
Even Bethenny Frankel has taken notice of her flattering dresses. The famed Real Housewife, Skinny Girl and recent E True Hollywood Story subject recently wore Lauren’s “Duchess Juliet Dress” on “Bethenny Ever After”… in red of course, that is in true Skinny Girl fashion. And what does this designer think about the reality TV star, best selling author, health food guru and business icon wearing her dress? Literally- Lauren was wearing the same “Duchess Juliet Dress” (albeit in Champagne) when we spoke. “It was really exciting! I got the call from her assistant that she would be wearing my dress and…” Lauren giggled “my poor boyfriend… I definitely screamed out loud a little when I saw it.”
Even with the success, Lauren Gabrielson seems to be more than a little modest, and even a bit unaware of just the kind of splash she’s making. When I brought up the recent comparisons between Diane von Furstenburg’s famous wrap dress and Lauren’s own layered chiffon number to potentially gain similar iconic status, she seemed surprised “Ha! Really!?” It seems you can move the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t move the Midwest out of the girl.
Just when I thought I was done with interviews for the evening, and just as I was finishing another gratuitous glass of Chardonnay, The evening’s press coordinator, Ashly Priest informed me that their VIP guest, Jen Abrams agreed to meet with me as well. Jen Abrams is one of those people that does just about everything in fashion. From celebrity stylist, to designer to being QVC’s Fashion Production Supervisor, Jen not just well connected in the fashion world, she embodies it. I immediately had one of those “had I known” moments where I maybe kind of wished I had cooled it on the free wine.
Raquel and I both went outside again to meet with our next interview. “Did you tweet me last night!?” asked Jen Abrams upon joining us. I responded with a “no” and admitted that I was a poor tweeter. Recently, however, thanks to publicity I’ve achieved through Twitter because of the awesome tweeting capabilities of Smith Sinrod, Dexter Phillip and Ashly Priest (This girl literally does everything… she already deserves her own chapter in my future best-selling tell all;-) I definitely have more reason to use the social media site and app.
Immediately the sweet, fiery blonde had put me at ease and within seconds, we discovered we both adored the same restaurant in her current hometown of Philadelphia. “I love Parc!” said Jen enthusiastically, “That’s right on Locust and 18th… so good!”
Jen had already given her speech about her appreciation for Lifestyle and Charity Magazine and the evening’s charity spotlight, so I decided to ask her thoughts on Rachel Zoe‘s new line which is currently available at Neiman Marcus. Jen has done commercial styling for numerous celebrities including Kim Kardashian (K-Dash) and Rachel Zoe. “You know, I actually love it,” said Jen with a smile. “Rachel Zoe IS a designer and I applaud what she’s done. There are so many celebrities who start a clothing line just because they can, and they aren’t necessarily one who’s designing.” Jen admitted to working with certain personalities in the fashion industry who simply attach their name onto a brand because they can. “And that’s what’s great about Rachel Zoe, she knows fashion, she’s the creative mind behind it, and these are HER designs.” What was apparent to me, is that Jen thoroughly respects and supports her colleague’s recent leap and hopefully successful business venture. And as for herself? Jen seems comfortable being an ever-progressive fashion savant who can apparently do anything… including Twitter.