Hold on to your Instagram. Fashion Week has kicked off in NYC and if you haven’t already noticed, your social feeds are about to be a constant stream of runway models, shoemerangs (dance, Dior booties, dance) and artfully curated street style. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to try to juggle the shows, parties, and what to wear when it’s hot and humid in gridlocked NYC, we’re doing a series of insider interviews with stylists who are making the scene and make it look easy.
Carmen Lilly, celebrity stylist and founder of Closet Therapy, a styling service that takes a holistic approach to dressing. As Fashion Week kicked off, she stopped by our offices at Spring Place to share her even more chill approach to the busiest week in NYC.
On what she’s most looking forward to… I’m doing a number of fun events this week: I’m judging the Supima Fashion show. It’s amazing! They give designs students rings of plain cotton and you will not believe what they are able to make. Their level of technical expertise and detail is unbelievable. There are a number of judges involved, like Fern Mallis. I’ve voted for the winner the last two years in a row and they are incredibly talented. They win a cash prize and get to show their designs in Paris. Sometimes American fashion is looked down on and this goes to show we have talent.
Last year, Jeffery Taylor from Savannah College of Art and Design won (left). He made these incredible dresses with laser cut flowers. In 2015 it was Kate McKenna (right). I wore her indigo dress to a Rihanna party. I’m also on a panel hosted by Google on Black Women in Fashion and I am attending Harlem Fashion Row, it’s the 10-year anniversary and they do a lot to help young black designers who are typically underfunded.
On planning what to wear… Fashion week is also my daughter’s first week of school so I’m overdressed for the first couple of days at drop-off. But I’m also pretty chill. Since transitioning into Closet Therapy, I used the same philosophy I use on my clients on my own closet. When I was putting outfits together for Fashion Week, I realized I was drawn to ivory, black, cranberry, rust and mustard. So I’ve made that a color story. I use black as a base then pop it with accessories or a coat. Like Stella McCartney’s Prince of Whales blazer or a Celine cross body in cranberry.
On freaky hot weather… There’s always that day in Fashion Week when it’s 90 degrees and you’re sweating while trying to look cute in fall clothes. You definitely have to wear layers because you never know, I’ll carry a light pashmina.
On wearing comfortable shoes… I bring along a couple of pairs of shoes, my assistants keep them for me. But gone are the days of the 4-inch heel. I’ll wear sneakers. I have a friend who is a Norwegian designer, Yvonne Kone, and I’ll wear her sneakers (shown below) because they are cute and fashion forward. I’ll also wear slides. There are so many different types, but I love one in velvet. Also low boots with an ethnic print. I just got a pair of Dior boots that I’ll wear with dresses or jeans and I like them because they have mesh and embroidery and are good for when it’s still warm.
On going to parties… I’m sure there are things I’ll go to last minute. The Wang party or Rihanna’s party. I really wait to decide and my husband is always saying, “This is your Superbowl!” but I’m still home by midnight.
On the things she won’t leave home without… I’m into dark lips right now and wearing Antique Velvet by Mac. Clean and Clear oil blotting sheets and Bare Minerals translucent powder for shine control. My epi-pen (I’m allergic to nuts) and sunglasses, I’ll wear my Karen Walker sunglasses.
On fast-fashion brands that are killing it…ASOS, Free People, Anthropologie, and Madewell—those Madewell tees are the best.