The Creatives: An Interview with Tess Kleinsmith

Tess Kleinsmith hails from Santa Cruz, CA but has made a happy home in Bucks County PA, helping to manage Shop Sixty Five - the go to shop for stylish gals in the know.  She has spent most of her working years in fashion, beginning with Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and Zoe, before landing at Shop 65. When she is not helpign clients find the perfect pair of jeans of the just right silk shift, she spends her days with her boyfriend (an equally cool hydroponic horticultist) and her one eyed Persian white cat named LOO (that she loves more than life itself) I caught up with her in the shop a couple of month ago. 

Trend predictions for fall/winter season?

Pops of color, everyone is so used to black and gray in the fall, but now we are seeing magenta and orange and greens, colors that are usually saved for spring and summer.

When was the last time you had a fashion epiphany?

I have on on a daily basis! Everyday I see someone wearing something and I think I have those same two pieces, I can do that!

What is your favorite high brand? Low brand?

Oh, it's hard to choose. High brand's I'd have to say, Lanvin, Givenchy, MiuMiu shoes and Celine bags. They look so luxurious and the materials are the highest quality and often rare - python skin and lamb skin. I love their use of subtle fabrics, Italian wool and knits and because they are made in France and Italy

When I buy favorite low brands, I buy I try to buy smaller underground labels that always makes it more interesting.  When I mix high and low I'll put a $20 Target top with $200 jeans and  Lanvin ( a very big recent birthday present splurge).

What is your go-to uniform?

That's easy. I wear white v-neck tees from Victoria's Secret, with jeans or jeans shorts and high top chuck Taylor Converse.

Who are your style icons?

My grandmother, Miriam is my style icon because she was classic, she was amazing.  She had incredible style and she didn't even know it. When I think of her, I remember her wearing a coffee colored jumpsuit with navy Keds, a flipped up collar and a Chanel bag.

Your favorite Ilsa Loves Rick piece?

My Couplet ring.  I never it off.

The Creatives: An Interview with Linda La Rosa

I am always impressed by women who move through the world with an effortless cool-chic. Normally I'll spot someone south of 14th street in NY or somewhere along Nob Hill in San Fran. Occasionally, I spot them in Austin or LA. (and of course, practically everywhere in Europe). So imagine my surprise when I met the most stylish gal of all  just down the road at her shop in heart of Bucks County PA.  Linda La Rosa with her cadre of assistants (Tess, Ariel, and Fab whom I'll feature in later Creatives posts) has the best edited shop this side of the Big Apple. Since its inception Shop 65 emerged as the tastemaker boutique for the region, not only because you can find covetable labels and emerging designers, but because Linda is an excellent stylist to boot. In fact, she began her career in fashion as a stylist something that she keeps at the core of all her work whether choosing the next collection, taking a risk on an emerging designer, or helping you find just the perfect silk shift for running around on hot summer days.  I caught up with her a few weeks back.

What do you see trending right now?

I think that we will see 70's style trending in the next few seasons. I don't have anything to back that up, it's just my gut.  It's my fashion intuition.  In particular, I see people taking a piece of 70's influenced clothing or accessories incorporating it into something with more of a care free less structured attitude.

What are your favorite Hi and Low brands? How do you mix them up?

My favorite high brand is Gary Graham. I love that he takes inspiration from my roots of gothic Victorian, edgy, deconstructed elegance.  My favorite low brand is NSF. Nick Freidberg used to be the designer for my old favorite called EVER, casual luxury line developed for people who travel a lot, designed for comfort. Tragically,  they lost their funding.  I mix high and low by always wearing ripped up jeans shorts with a gorgeous silk top.

What is your go to uniform for a day at work?

In the summer you can find me in an easy silk dress, skinny jeans, striking boots. I love to wear t shirt and bespoke blazers, perfectly cut.

Who is your style icon?

Thats easy. Bridget Bardot. She is sexy without trying.

Favorite ILR piece?

The Wrap in Smoke. I wear it everyday.

The Creatives: An Interview with Katrina Whiting

I first met Katrina when she was an art student in high school.  Smart, ambitious, and wicked talented, she is just about to finish a stellar career at Maryland Institute College of Art and is already taking the design world by storm!
As an intern at the branding agency 160over90 and in her work with the Center for Design Practice at MICA she has worked for clients as various as BHLDN, University of California, and the New York Jets.  I caught up with her last winter, to ask her about trending in the design world. 

What are your predictions for design trends in the New Year?

The trends that I'm most familiar with have to do with Graphic Design. There's been a rise in design work moving "off-screen." Hand lettering and traditional printing methods (ie. letterpress, screen printing etc.) have seen a revival as well as retro-style. I think this will continue into the new year as designers continue to crave a non digital platform to create their work.

Participatory Design is another trend that I think will gain further traction in the new year. Websites like and offer production services (in this case books) allowing anyone the potential to be a designer. Adobe has just released their software into the cloud - making them more accessible than ever to anyone. As the tools of design and production become available to the public I think the role of traditional designers will change. I think designers will find themselves designing systems to activate people interested in design. For example, poster templates and web templates as seen on

When was the last time you had a fashion epiphany?

A couple weeks ago. I've been trying to collect timeless pieces of clothing that will go with anything, no matter what the trends are. I realized I'm only young once so perhaps I should wear more neon and silly things and stop aspiring to dress just like my mother. 

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

I love 3.1 Phillip Lim. I love the clean lines that he creates with his Asian influenced clothing. He's able to make smart clean designs that aren't boring. My favorite low brand is Madewell. I hope to mix one day -- when I'm taking in a salary rather than paying for college :)

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

Depends what my work day is. If I'm printmaking or going to the woodshop I have one pair of jeans that I wear + my super man tee. They're my smock jeans.
If I'm just designing I typically wear dark jeans, my huge circle scarf that I can double as a blanket, and a herringbone men's cardigan. I love clothes that are unisex. I get uncomfortable if I'm dressed too "feminine." I save jewelry and accessories to express my femininity.

What is your favorite ILR piece and why?

The Couplet Ring is my favorite ILR piece. I love the tension between the delicateness and the power of its form. The Couplet's strong verticality is beautifully countered with the negative space and the hand forged texture.

Who are your style icons?

My icons are the many faces that make up the Sartorialist, Humans of NY, and other street style blogs. Recently, I find myself inspired by the "Beautiful Stranger" section of my friend Hanna Kim's blog. Beautiful Strangers are what Hanna calls the unique individuals she chances to encounter on the street. I admire individuals who can carry themselves with poise and still allow their quirkiness to shine through any day of the week. 

The Creatives: An Interview with Andrea Zeuner

Not only does she design her own eponymous jewelry line, Andrea Zeuner is my go to bench artist when I have large orders to fill and need a second set of trained hands.  A graduate of Pratt in Jewelry and Metalsmithing.   She has also builds and designs for Betsy Johnson, Robert Lee Morris and Kenneth Cole.
And is currently working for a Brooklyn based company called In God We Trust with stores around NYC selling mens' and women's' clothing, jewelry and accessories all completely made locally in-house.  She spends free time in her studio with her cat, Edgar, for company.

What are your predictions for trends in the New Year?

Ive been seeing a lot of girls wearing super teensy thin gold bands,
one on each of the inside three fingers, I think they look pretty
killer. Also, "memory rings" are getting to be a pretty big thing. For
a while, bigger was better, bold pieces were the thing, but I sense a
shift towards daintier, tamed down adornments.

When was the last time you had a fashion epiphany?

You get to see a lot of different people on the subway commute to and
from work, thats one of the great things about living/working in
Brooklyn. While traveling through hipster-nation, everybody's putting
on a fashion show. Its a nice 35 minutes of seeing some really great
fashionable looking people. I frequently have fashion epiphanies by
looking at the people around me, scoping out their newest trends, even
by the ones who chose to go out of the house wearing metallic
astronaut jumpsuits. Welcome to Brooklyn.

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

For clothes, my favorite high brand is by far Alexander McQueen. As
for low brands, my usual go-to stores are Urban Outfitters,
Anthropologie, Levi and Zara.
I hope to one day be able to afford to put some high brand items in my
wardrobe but for now, they'll just stay on my wish-list.
When it comes to jewelry, I usually wear my own creations, or I'll
wear one of the pieces that my grandmother had left to me. She had a
really great impact on the reason why I became so into jewelry and

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

When working in a jewelry studio you have to be ready to gain a couple
of acid holes in your shirt, so I don't really wear anything too nice.
 In this winter cold, I'll be seen rocking my levi jeggings, an
oversized comfy sweater, my trusty vintage lace up granny boots, an
urban outfitters cable knit fringe ombre fade scarf and a cozy knit
beanie to top it all off.
As for jewels, I keep it simple with my Superhighway Studs, however
don't leave to go anywhere without my rings, I have at least four
rings on at all times, otherwise I feel naked!

A weekend out of the studio allows me to crack out the nicer pieces
but overall my style is still pretty relaxed. You'd catch me wearing a
fitted striped tank under a slightly oversized denim button down and
some dark skinny jeans, finished off with a vintage long necklace

What is your favorite ILR piece and why?

The Javlin Ring, I'm in love with rings that stretch over multiple
fingers. The Javlin ring is simple yet dramatic.

The Creatives: An Interview with Christina Tyler

Christina Tyler of Madewell was one of the best shop-keeps around for a brand that has easy cool written all over it! It is my go to source for tees and tops and I absolutely love that they have partnered with Sessun, See by Chloe, H by Hudson and hard to find Attic and Barn that makes the most gorgeous retro patterned silk blouses.  Quick with a smile and spot on fashion advise, I had come to trust her eye for fit and fabric, along with the way she championed the individual in every Madewell gal. Currently working in the Home Department of Urban Outfitters at their Philadelphia corporate offices, I caught up with her recently for a Creatives Post.

What are your predictions for trends in the New Year?
Camo is having a MAJOR resurgence this year, I can feel it already! Army green and canvas jackets have been everywhere, but I think we’re going to see a smattering of modern camo prints on everything from bags to jackets and denim, you name it!
When was the last time you had a fashion epiphany?

I can’t say I have them very often… I just get fashion-excited when fashion week hits and looks come down the runway that I never knew I needed! I mean, 3.1 Philip Lim’s tribute to punk rock 90s vibes? And Dries Van Noten’s light & airy grungey plaids? LOVE!

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

I’m obsessed with Richard Chai, Philip Lim, Band of Outsiders, and I’m loving the Rochas revival! I mostly shop at Madewell, J. Crew, Free People, and Urban Outfitters, and try to emulate the looks I love most on the runways with what I have. Work with whatcha got, ya know?

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

I’m lucky enough to work in an environment that has no dress code, so you can always find me in a pair of skinny jeans and biker boots and a few layers on top. Chambray, all the way! 

What is your favorite ILR piece and why?

I love the drape circle & barre drape necklaces… I used to be really into statement jewelry, but I’ve recently discovered an appreciation for all things dainty, and these guys are the right mix of tough/industrial and delicate!

Who are your style icons?

Marina Munoz is the ultimate. She has an impossibly cool style and manages to look super feminine and sexy while living in menswear. Taylor Tomasi Hill is an obvious choice, but I love her bold color choices and silhouettes… and that she can rock some high tops with a tulle Comme des Garcons skirt! I also love Jenna Lyons, Caroline de Maigret, and Ada Kokosar.

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!