Nellie Partow is a New York based womenswear designer known for her beautifully minimal and visually luxurious collections. In between working alongside Calvin Klein and John Varvatos, Partow is also an avid and accomplished boxer. In January 2012, the designer was chosen as a finalist for the Fashion Group International Rising Star Award in the women’s ready-to-wear category.
Congratulations on your FGI nomination! Your Spring 2013 collection is really beautiful; can you describe your inspiration?
Thank you! For Spring ’13, I was very much inspired by desert landscapes at sunrise and sundown. Particularly, the White Sands deserts in Arizona. The colors, and textures, in the weave of the fabrications, were a direct influence from the natural hues and textures that are found in the landscapes of these deserts.
Can you tell me about your aesthetic vision that drives collection after collection?
The aesthetic vision of the brand is based on a woman who approaches dressing in a chic, timeless manner and has an effortless allure. My mother was a significant influence on the aesthetic of the brand. She lived in Paris, Iran, Italy, and Switzerland and as a result has a great sensibility, which has directly influenced me.
How has working at Calvin Klein and John Varvatos influenced your direction?
Working for Calvin Klein and John Varvatos were invaluable experiences. Calvin was a great inspiration to me growing up. I always admired his aesthetic and to be able to work for the company just after graduating from Parsons was a privilege. I learned an incredible amount from this talented team. Working for John was an amazing experience, being that he and the brand have such a strong identity. When you walk into the JV design studio you understand who John is and what the driving force is behind the brand.
Which designers do you admire from a design perspective and from a business perspective?
From a design perspective, I admire Yves Saint Laurent and Alber Elbaz. From a business perspective, Hermès and Azzedine Alaia.
What has been your biggest accomplishment as a designer to date?
Launching my own collection and successfully growing the business each season.
Who would you love to see wearing your clothes?
Women who feel incredibly beautiful in them. It could be anyone.
How do you set yourself apart with your higher price point and in a fairly crowded market of so many emerging designers?
It’s important to know what you want to convey as a designer and as a brand. I believe the most successful designers, particularly in this designer price point, are the ones who are clear and authentic about who they are, and what they want to offer.
I read that you are a trained and successful boxer–are there any principles from the intensity of the sport that you can apply to your professional craft, or is one a release for the other?
There are so many unassuming parallels between competitive boxing and designing a collection that’s debuted during fashion week. Both crafts take a great deal of discipline, dedication, passion, and time. I was lucky enough to be able to pursue both of these passions. I always had my Calvin Klein and John Varvatos colleagues supporting me at all my matches. I’ll never forget seeing them in the crowd during my fights at Madison Square Garden in New York. It was both of my worlds coming together.
What’s next for your brand?
There are many exciting things going on at this time. I’m thankful every day for the opportunities and experiences that are unfolding and keep trying to remind myself to enjoy the ride.