The Creatives: An Interview with Jessica Thompson

I first met Jessica at By George on Lamar in Austin in the summer of 2011. It was a blistering 100 degree day and we had just wrapped primary photography for an Abbie Cornish film, The Girl.  My producer husband Paul, has a tradition of purchasing thank you gifts for the lead actors at the close of every show.  I of course, headed to By George (perhaps the best edited boutique in the domestic 48) where beautiful well heeled Jessica helped us find the perfect gifts.  We also spent some time talking jewelry, in particular, the line I was, at the time, still designing. Nine months later, when she had moved into buying for the shop, she picked up Ilsa Loves Rick, the first major retailer and taste maker on board.  I would love her for that alone. But love her too for her keen eye and styling genius. She is a fashion prophet. And now, in her new job at Demand Media in product launch development, she is turning up the heat for other emerging brands. She slowed down long enough for this interview. Lucky us.  Lucky new year.

What are your predictions for trends in the New Year?

There's been a strong counter-movement to the flowy, bohemian look that has been trending for the past few years. Lines like Céline, Mary Katrantzou, Saint Laurent, Haider Ackerman, and Dries Van Noten have really been setting the tone for structure and menswear-inspired silhouettes that still have a feminine edge (sheer fabrics, light and drapey silks, and plunging necklines in particular). Pattern-mixing, print, and the use of color add a playful edge to the more tailored trend. 

When was the last time you had a fashion epiphany?

They come and go constantly! I'm hoping for one very soon... My last fashion epiphany was probably about 6 weeks ago. I started a new job at a tech company and was worried about losing my creative, fashion edge. I sort of decided to merge fashion with technology and became very inspired by graphic tees, heavy metal accessories, structured blazers and architectural shoes. I guess I've been trying to channel fashion-nerd, with a little superhero edge! 

What is your favorite High brand, low brand? How do you mix high and low?

My favorite High brand is Ann Demeulemeester. Her designs are romantic, subtly evocative, moody and mysterious. She somehow transcends "fashion" and simply creates beauty and movement. My favorite low brand is probably Madewell. I love their tees, tanks and silk button-downs. I almost always mix high and low - I usually splurge on stand-out, non-trendy pieces, like a great jacket, skirt, or wild shoes, and pair them back to low brands. If I'm going to really play with a trend, I'll almost always shop low brands, like Madewell, Zara, or H&M, and leave the big spending  for more timeless pieces. 

What is your go-to uniform for a day of work? The weekend?

For work, I usually stick to trousers and tops. I love playing with volume - I'll either pair oversized harem pants with a tank and a fitted blazer, or  wear leather pants with oversized blouses and chunky wedges. On the weekends, I like to have fun. I love vintage and loud shoes and reserve them  for my time outside of the office - outdoor brunches, drinks with friends, weekend getaways. 

What is your favorite ILR piece and why?

My favorite ILR pieces are the Broad and the Skinny rings. I have two of each and love stacking them all together, or mixing them in with other rings. I always have the Broad on my pointer finger - haven't taken it off since I bought it! 

Who are your style icons?

Stevie Nicks, Ann Demeulemeester, Elisa Nalin, Emmanuelle Alt, Patti Smith, Catherine Baba, my best friend... So many!