Now based in Brooklyn Heights, French-born designer Sophie Theallet has come a long way. She debuted her first runway collection in 2008, after a career working for Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaïa. The following year Theallet went on to win the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, along with the mentorship of one Oscar de la Renta. Such accomplishments are understandable: each season she sends beautifully sophisticated, feminine and wearable pieces down the runway. Theallet spoke to nycgo.com about being inspired by film director Louis Malle, where she likes to go around town and how a designer can never rest on her laurels—even when her clothing has made its way from her apartment to the White House.
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What was your inspiration for this season?
Sophie Theallet: I've been immersed and trained in fashion and French couture from my beginnings. My work and clothes need to reflect this savoir faire, while at the same time keep moving toward the future with ideas unique to my brand. My inspiration for Fall/Winter 2014 was the movie Ascenseur pour l'échafaud [Elevator to the Gallows, 1958], by Louis Malle. The atmosphere, the mysterious Jeanne Moreau and the music of Miles Davis put me in a certain mood that felt right for this season.
When you're designing, is there a certain woman you're designing for?
ST: It's never with a specific woman in mind. It's more a dance between intellectual ideas and the right feelings.
In 2009 you won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, and now even the First Lady wears your pieces. How rewarding are such accolades?
ST: Prizes and recognition are superbe, but that said, you cannot rely on anything. Fashion is about now. As they say, “You are really [only] as good as your last collection.”