Interior designer Kelly Wearstler has created interiors for Viceroy Miami, Avalon, and BG at Bergdorf Goodman. But she's best known for sporting over-the-top outfits during her two-season stint as a judge on Bravo's Top Design. From glittery berets to extravagant evening dresses worn over cuffed jeans, her weekly looks showcased her whimsical approach to fashion. When the show ended in 2008, Wearstler continued working on both private and public interiors, along with developing home lines for the likes of Bergdorf, The Rug Company, and Sferra linens. Fast forward three years later and Wearstler can add fashion designer to her extensive resume. Her collection, inspired by her California lifestyle and love of vintage, debuts this month at Bergdorf and includes ready-to-wear clothing, jewelry, and accessories. The vast collection is an extension of Wearstler's glamorous aesthetic, including abstract patterned tanks and trousers, loads of chunky gold statement jewelry, and many explosions of bright colors. Prices begin at $125 for earrings and cap at $2,450 for a black fur coat, with most pieces retailing between $300 and $500. We chatted with the designer about designing clothes versus interiors, her love of blogging, and why you won't see her on reality television again.
What was your inspiration for the line?
It was more of a refined, California sensibility. The fabrics are refined, yet the prints are raw and kind of pop-art, with the bright colors.
Did you approach the line much like you would approach designing a space?
That's the only way I knew how to attack it. I looked at each delivery like it was a room in a house. They would dialogue with one another, but they needed their own voice. But it's definitely a complicated business, even just not knowing how fabrics hang. It was a lot of trial and error.
Is working on a raw space or creating a fashion line more difficult?
Creating the infrastructure is hard — it's not only ready-to-wear but also jewelry, e-commerce, and my Los Angeles flagship. It's everything at one time and very challenging. The same time I'm designing my collection, I'm also designing my store. It has to have brand awareness, an identity. I'm also designing the racks and the hangers, and juggling a lot of things.
When does the store open?
The flagship opens October 1 and will be on Melrose. It is on a corner and it has really great natural light, which is important. It was right by Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang — where everyone else is. I want to surround myself with other brands. The main voice is ready-to-wear and jewelry, but we will sell interiors and it will be merchandised in.
What type of woman would wear your line?
Someone who loves color and taking risks. She wants to feel feminine but there's a little edge and sexiness to her.
What's the one piece in your collection that you'd consider a must-have?
These hand-painted, striped, silk-sateen blazers that comes in a black-and-ivory, periwinkle-and-black, or coral-and-black. I would wear it with a T-shirt, jeans, and boots.
Having been on Top Design, any thoughts of returning to television?
Nope. I do not like being in front of the camera. It was fun but I'm not that reality person.
I've never seen most of the fashion reality shows. The only one I've seen is Project Runway, which is great, but I don't watch television.
You're a fearless dresser. What advice do you have for women who want to break out of their shell?
I think it's just starting small with a scarf or unusual piece of jewelry. My mother handed down all these amazing scarves from the sixties and seventies, and I have a hundred of them. If you wear all black, add a color T-shirt and scarf to get your toes wet. Go in your closet and look at the colors in your closet. It will give you an idea of what you want to surround yourself in. Say you love art in a specific color; use that as a source of inspiration for your wardrobe.
People love your spaces and you have a successful home line, so what advice do you have for someone trying to decorate their apartment? Is there one mistake that everyone tends to make?
Take risks. One room can be safe but the next should be bolder. Be a little more fearless. Just say you pick some incredible blue to paint, the worst thing is that you'll have to re-paint. You'll never know! Also, really big furniture needs to go away. Proportion and scale are getting too exaggerated.
You have your own blog. What made you decide to start it and how do you decide what you put up there?
I take pictures all day long and I'm always out running around — antique store, flower shop. I have all of these photos of inspirational things. I take every photo and I do it all myself. It really doesn't take long and I have this library of imagery that spans over fifteen years.
What trends do you love right now?
I love all the color. I was just so over everything being white or black.
What trends do you wish would go away?
All this black jersey. You go into a store and it all starts looking the same. It just looks sloppy. It stretches and there's nothing designed.
Where do you like to shop when you're in New York?
I love going to Bergdorf Goodman, of course. Downtown, I love Kirna Zabête and Maryam Nassir Zadeh in the Lower East Side. Love Adorned has tons of jewelry and is just an amazing store. For vintage — Edith Machinist and Narnia.
What should every woman have in her closet?
A great lightweight leather jacket that can be worn all year round.
What should every woman have in her apartment?
Amazing art. A cool large-scale or even small piece; that's your voice. You can have a little or a lot and it warms the soul.
What's one thing you never leave the house without?
My parasol. I walk around with a parasol because the sun is so intense and I walk around all the time. I have four in my trunk. I get them from Japan. Lanvin, Margiela, they all make them and they're only sold in Japan. They're like 98 percent UV-proof.