Bettina's Take: Nanette Lepore Exclusive

Photo courtesy of Nanette Lepore
Nanette Lepore.

Nanette Lepore is a talented designer who is devoted to saving the garment district. Her clothes are suited for everything from a casual summer lunch to a black tie event. I wanted to know a little more about her, so she accepted to be interviewed for Bettina's Take.

What made you want to become a designer?

As a child, I always loved to sew my own clothes. When I got to college, I didn’t think fashion was a realistic career for me so I majored in Spanish and thought about being a social worker. Luckily, I had a great mentor who encouraged me to follow my true passion and enroll in classes at FIT.

Who and what are your greatest influences?

My mom is my ultimate style icon. She was the only school teacher in town who could pull off hot pants and gladiator sandals.

Whose clothes, besides yours, do you wear?

Okay, I admit it: I mostly wear my own designs. But my closet is also filled with vintages pieces that I find in markets all over the world. I also sneak in a few pieces from Prada, Marni, & Comme des Garcons.

Do you shop for outfits all at once, or do you buy individual pieces and put them together?

I always buy individual pieces rather than whole outfits. I love adding a new item to my closet and seeing how it rejuvenates other pieces I already own.

Do you think style is innate, or do you think it can be learned?

Style is definitely innate--my daughter Violet’s been putting jaw-dropping looks together since she was two! ;) But I do think you can always redefine your own personal style and find inspiration from all around you.

Photo courtesy of Nanette Lepore
Nanette Lepore runway shot.

What philanthropic cause are you most attached to, and why? What does saving the Garment District mean to you?

I’m committed to saving the Garment Center and ensuring a future for American fashion. The factories and suppliers in the Garment Center make it possible for young designers with limited funds to get their businesses off the ground. Without these resources, I never could have started my own business. I also think it’s extremely important to keep jobs in America and use the highly-skilled workers that are right down the block.

What items should every woman have in her closet?

An evening coat in a gorgeous print—like the opener from my Fall 2012 show. It adds instant glamour to any outfit!

You've grown your company organically. What advice do you have for young designers?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes—that’s how you’ll learn the most. Also, use your local resources. You’ll save money and headaches being able to check in on your production in person.

What do you do to relax?

In the summertime, I like to sneak out early on Fridays to catch a train to my house in the Hamptons. There’s nothing more relaxing for me than drinking a cocktail on my deck overlooking the ocean.