The season of fancy holiday party invitations is upon us. And with it, a slew of annual sartorial conundrums that can be difficult to figure out in our casually inclined city. Not to mention tricky dress codes that might have you scratching your head. Lucky for you we have tapped five of the region’s most in-demand fashion designers to share their best style advice that will have you turning heads at your next holiday event.
Photograph by Tereza Janakova
Creative Director, Valentina & Valentia
Since launching Valentina & Valentia in 2014, software engineer Milena Natanov has made celebrating femininity a cornerstone of her brand. Her ready-to-wear designs feature clean, architectural lines alongside European textiles and cool tonal hues intended to appeal to women of any generation. And while Natanov is a fan of the little black (or white) dress for holiday celebrations, a “wow factor” is not far from her mind. She suggests investing in shoes with whimsical details, including feathers, and donning statement jewelry. “When your dress is a clean canvas you have so much more room to experiment,” she says. “I love the watercolor stones in the pieces by H. Stern.”
Photo by Kailee Elizabeth
Creative Director, A. Oei Studio
Oei is a contemporary womenswear label founded by Angeline Oei that balances functional design with bold prints and colors inspired by nature. This past fall Oei debuted the “Balance” collection inspired by Ikebana, a form of Japanese flower arranging, at her first runway show. To stay holiday ready she recommends investing in statement pieces including a black dress, a top with a unique pattern or luxurious fabric, a pair of pants or skirt (to match the top), a cozy coat in a neutral color and a statement accessory, such as a sculptural jewelry or a silk scarf.
Courtesy of Erika Massaquoi
Owner, The Oula Company
Erika Massaquoi knows a thing or two about color. Her collection of statement-making shift dresses and kimonos for The Oula Company are created with patterned fabrics sourced from around the world. To stand out in a sea of black party attire, Massaquoi suggests securing a statement dress in a luxurious fabric, such as jacquard or velvet. Her go-to accessory to complete her holiday outfit is a faux fur coat, in a white or cream hue, because “nothing is more sad than your everyday work coat over a chic party dress.”
Courtesy of Suk Chai
Suk Chai launched Schai after 20 years of designing and producing garments for other brands, including Nordstrom. Her contemporary aesthetic is brought to life through oversized statement pieces and intentional tailoring that can transition from day to night. Chai recommends a statement shoe (such as Maison Margiela’s silver “Tabi” boots) and a cashmere coat. “When there’s the holiday hug, people touch the coat and can’t stop caressing you,” she says. “Then they look down, gasp and start chatting about the umph on your feet!”
Courtesy of Lisa Marie
Founder and designer, Lisa Marie Couture
Lisa Marie has been delighting clients with her cocktail and evening designs since launching Lisa Marie Couture over five years ago following a six year tenure with Luly Yang. Her elegant pieces range from high concept couture creations to ready-to-wear dresses and separates featuring structured lines that complement a woman’s silhouette. Ottele frequently dons a sleek cocktail dress for the season’s soirees because they can “keep your mind free from fussing so you can focus on friends and family.” She also recommends keeping accessories light and bright.