New York City based Fashion Designer and Stylist, Julie Mollo, shows us her new pop-up shop at Chelsea Market and shares the inspiration behind her fun & flirty, retro-inspired lifestyle brand.
Tell us about your background and when you started designing and styling.
I grew up an only child in Grafton, MA – a super small rural town. My mom is super crafty and is always knitting and quilting. Her mother and grandmother made all of her clothing growing up, so the creative gene is in my bloodstream. In middle school I started dressing a little differently and experimenting with my closet but it wasn’t until high school that I started to become serious and understand that I could design something and create that design. The art department was super tiny in my high school so I took classes wherever else I could- RISD, MassArt and local art museums, filling all of my free time/school vacations with more classes to learn as much as I could. I knew I wanted to live in NYC, so I only applied to FIT and Pratt for college. Eventually I chose Pratt and moved to Brooklyn immediately after graduating high school when I was 18! 10 years later, here I am!
Did you have any major sources of inspiration when you were young and green behind the ears?
I was raised on monster movies and Hitchcock films, which makes a lot of sense to me now, I love the fashion in the Hitchcock movies and the kitsch of monster movies. I always loved ballerinas, shapes, a good theme, love and the 1950s. Music has always inspired me and since 3rd grade Gwen Stefani has been my #1 style icon. Her inspirations have always inspired me as well, even if we translate them differently. I’ve loved putting two juxtaposing ideas next to each other, like my mid-length feminine full circle skirts with a big metal zipper running the entire length of it.
What inspires your work now?
My inspirations have really never changed. I’m constantly inspired by the same things, and if you really look at my work over the past 10 years you can see that they all have the same ideas behind them, each season the pieces are just a little more grown up. It’s fun to see my babies (designs) grow with me. I have a rack of my history of designs in my studio and its wild to see the evolution of my thoughts hanging next to each other!
Describe the Julie Mollo aesthetic for us. What is the spirit of the brand?
Fun, flirty, retro, rock & roll!
You have an impressive list of celebrity clients. Can you share who you’ve worked with and how it came about?
Katy Perry was my first client ever. She was the first person, besides my teachers or myself, that I had made clothes for. I reached out to her manager via MySpace as soon as I saw her photo I knew she would love my designs. “I Kissed A Girl” had just hit the radio and she was about to blow up. I was 20 and entering my junior year in college, designing for the VMAs, Tonight Show & Today Show between my homework assignments. Tagging onto my inspirations when I was “green behind the ears”, my inspirations for Katy Perry’s costumes were very obvious- I was inspired by a strawberry/banana/ watermelon, so here’s a strawberry/watermelon/banana dress. I was so naive in those days, and I learned a lot. Since the KP days, I’ve worked with many musicians- YouTuber/Singer/Songwriter Megan Nicole is my #1, we’ve done over 50 pieces over the past two and a half years for stage, award shows, events and everything in between. We were connected through a friend in the music industry and basically fell in love aesthetically. We are perfect for each other. She’s become a great friend over the years, too. We work very closely. I’ve also worked a lot with the incredible Andra Day, making custom pieces for her to perform in at Live! With Kelly & Michael, Late Show with Steven Colbert, and of course…The Grammys. That was a huge career goal of mine that I got to cross off this past February. I used every connection I had ever made to get in touch with Andra and finally was put in touch with her publicist via a friend at Buzzfeed last summer. There’s no clear cut way to get a new high-profile client, always remember to be nice to everyone- you don’t know who you’re going to work together with in the future.
Do you have a favorite project?
Hmmm…My favorite project ever? I love my entire idea of Retroversible (“retro inspired reversible clothing!”). I vividly remember having the idea hit me. It just felt right. Retroversible really changed the game for my company. It was the first time I was able to put out an actual line of product to girls everywhere, rather than only custom work.
Tell us about your pop-up shop!
So exciting! I’m really trying to expose my brand to a new audience and thought that Chelsea Market would be an ideal way of putting myself in front of thousands of new eyeballs every single day. Artists and Fleas have been a company I have been shopping with since I moved to New York. I love the brands that they work with and was so excited to I have 50 square feet that i am making as cute as humanly possible and I am very excited about it. I will be up and running August 29 – September 11.