Ohio native Nanette Lepore moved to New York City with $5,000 in her pocket and a dream of designing. Years later, she’s built an entire fashion empire, complete with women’s apparel, swimwear, accessories and fragrance.
Her designs have been seen on everyone from Michelle Obama to Taylor Swift, and now anyone can wear Nanette Lepore thanks to her new more affordable juniors’ line, available exclusively at JCPenney, with everything priced under $50. We caught up with her at the L’Amour Nanette Lepore launch party in NYC, where she was joined by her daughter Violet (who inspired the line!), Vanessa Hudgens and Shay Mitchell.
SheKnows: When did you know that you made it?
Nanette Lepore: Well, I don’t think I’ve made it yet! I always feel like there’s a goal I’m not reaching. But I did notice a difference when I finally had my first fashion show because that was a big pressure point for me… I was terrified. So when I put on my first show, I think I at least took a huge step that I was avoiding.
SK: What’s one fashion rule that every woman should break?
NL: I think that you should always overdress.
SK: How would you describe your style?
NL: Schizophrenic! It changes with my moods. I really like a mix of high and low fashion for myself… a nice, colorful mix.
SK: If you were stranded on a desert island, what five things would you bring from your wardrobe?
NL: A bias cut velvet gown… it could be one of mine. And then a beaded Chinese jacket and a pair of over-the-top Miu Miu shoes. And then I would bring my own new flat sandals from this season… they’re gorgeous and I love them to death. And one of my bikinis!
SK: Who’s your celebrity style icon or muse?
NL: Sophia Loren. I love looking at her because I just want to have my cleavage out and one of those sexy dresses!
SK: What are your Fashion Week must-haves?
NL: We always have a box of See’s candies around and then a bucket of Starbucks coffee. We’re just trying to get through without too many emotions, because it gets very emotional during that time. Everyone’s working really hard together and long hours, so it’s more about lots of laughs and jokes. That’s a must-have!
SK: What do you think we’ll be seeing on the runway for New York Fashion Week?
NL: It’s always a surprise, isn’t it? You’ll be seeing a play on textures and a play on hologramism and a blurring of surfaces. There’s just a newness to the fabrications and to the leathers and the way people work with them.
SK: What’s the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?
NL: I dispense a lot of advice about men at my company because there are obviously a lot of single women. It’s always about a broken heart. Probably love the guy who loves you back!
SK: And the best advice you’ve ever been given?
NL: When my grandmother told me to have a baby and when my husband told me to start a business… so those two.
SK: What’s your favorite part of being a mom?
NL: You get this companion that you never dreamed could be so exciting and fun to be around, so it’s a surprise. It’s fabulous!