Despite a daunting introduction to the industry, boutique owner Christina Kolbe has made a name for herself throughout the fashion realm. She was discovered at 13 and modeled as a teen. "I didn’t like the modeling world — I feel for the girls who are thrust into that," she says. "I always wanted to be the one art directing or styling the shoot rather than the little thing on the chair being told what to do." After taking a break from modeling, she became the buyer for Steven Alan. "It was an amazing time in the fashion industry then, before Zara and Forever 21," she says. "It was really about discovering new talent rather than replicating established brands."
She left Steven Alan to handle sales for a multi-line showroom, working with designers like Catherine Holstein, Kimberly Ovitz, and Raf Simons. There, the vintage collection she’d been amassing since high school served her well: She was known for lending out rare pieces to designers for inspiration. Earlier this year she launched Mafalda, a Brooklyn vintage boutique, and now she's readying her latest reincarnation — designer. Her debut collection is scheduled to land in stores next spring. We talked to Kolbe about the sixties resurgence, fast fashion, and the problem with label whores.
What prompted the launch of Mafalda?
I had become bored with what was going on in the industry, especially the whole biker-chic, rock-and-roll trend. Everything has been so redundant for the last couple years. I had always planned on opening a store at some point, and the sixties and seventies influence was what was really exciting to me.
What sets it apart from the slew of other vintage stores?
I talk to so many vintage collectors, and a lot of them are die-hard label whores. For me, it’s not about that; it’s about the piece. Vintage used to be perceived as more kitschy and costume-y; my idea of vintage is mixing it in with current pieces and making it feel relevant.
How has the fashion industry changed since your days at Steven Alan?
After Steven Alan, I traveled and went away to England for a while. When I came back, H&M was exploding. It used to be this club, where you really had to search people out and read the European magazines like Face and i-D to discover new designers. Now anybody can get in on it — fashion isn’t so exclusive anymore.
What’s your upcoming line like?
I wouldn’t call it trendy. I love classic, limitless pieces that you can wear every day, any season.
What’s the first designer item you bought?
I grew up in Brooklyn near Century 21, which at that time stocked a lot of Margiela and Helmut Lang. I got the Margiela Tabi boots for my twentieth birthday.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a Gemini, and my style has different personalities. It would be so simple to be one of those people who wear the same uniform every day, but if that were the case then I don’t think I should be working in the fashion industry. I’m inspired every day to come up with something new.
What trends are you appreciating now?
Sixties and seventies styles mixed with nineties minimalism, like a bias-cut dress paired with a sixties jacket and big platform shoes.
What should every woman have in her closet?
Originality and the confidence to wear whatever they want. Women need to dress for themselves, not whatever's dictated by the blogs or magazines.
What’s something you never leave the house without?
A simple, white-gold-and-diamond cross necklace my sister gave me for my nineteenth birthday.
Most Viewed Stories
Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale, One Month Into the Trump Era
Why Did Everyone Act Like I Was Crazy When I Decided to Have a Baby in My 20s?
Ask Polly: I Overshared My Way Out of a Boyfriend!
Kellyanne Conway Was Honestly Too Busy House Hunting to Appear on TV
Taylor Swift Is Not Going to Be Happy About This New Friendship
What, Exactly, Are Melania and Ivanka Trump Trying to Sell?
Please Enjoy This Juicy Mystery About a Woman Cheating in a Half-Marathon
The Supreme-Branded Metrocard Is Here
Malia Obama Went to the Club
Lululemon’s Former CEO Really Needs His Own Bravo Show
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.