Designers Dish: Katie Ermilio on Her Tennis-Inspired Collection

Katie Ermilio

We caught up with the American designer backstage at her NYFW show for a few minutes as she put the finishing touches on her soon-to-be-revealed garments.

Fun fact: Designer Katie Ermilio is the granddaughter of Grace Kelly’s personal clothier. And it only takes a quick look at her collections to know that good taste must run in her family. Additionally she has fans in Selena Gomez, Jaime King, Kate Bosworth and Michelle Williams.

So when we got the chance to peek in on Ermilio prepping for her NYFW show on Wednesday, we jumped.

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Unsurprisingly Ermiliio is hands-on until the last second. She literally had a pin cushion on her wrist and was sorting through laser-cut flowers to hand-sew onto her silk creations which were hanging in a range of watermelon-esque hues of deep green, burgundy, mauve-y pink and checkered white. But while the tones reminded us of the juicy fruit, she revealed something very different was behind the color palette.

Pret-a-Reporter: What was your inspiration for this Spring 2016 season?

Katie Ermilio: If you look at the rack, the colors are very distinct. I was actually inspired by tennis courts. It’s kind of an abstraction of aerial views of tennis courts. I started by researching tennis attire from the 1930's and I was coming across all different images of different kinds of courts, because there’s books and books and tons of Pinterest boards dedicated to, like, that kind of thing — landscapes. And I found myself more attracted to that than the clothes, so the colors kind of came out of that. I have a bunch of pictures on the wall. The check is an abstraction of, you know, the graphic lines. Like if you look at an aerial picture of a court you’ll be like, Ohh!

But we usually think of tennis courts as green and white. Where did the pinks and reds come from?

Yeah, so after it rains a clay court turns dark red. In the bright sun it becomes bright pink. It’s pretty literal, in a very abstract way.

What are you sewing on here, these tiny pink and green flowers?

I did it all digitally in Illustrator — I drew them exactly how I wanted them to look, and then we used the fabrication of the collection and had them laser cut in different scales and then we’re applying them with Swarovski pearls to many of the pieces. It’s been happening but you know, final touches!

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Are there lots of little last-minute details to take care of?

There is a bunch of stuff that is embroidered, believe it or not, but these were the last little guys to come in. I didn’t want to have to un-embroider once we put them on the models. It’s kind of out there for me.

Does this collection stay pretty true to your aesthetic?

Yes, and I’m always a feminist minimalist at heart — that’s been my signature since the beginning. But the clothes definitely have a sporty feel, there’s a little bit of an athletic vibe. Subtle, but it’s there. Rompers, and the hair is sort of slicked back and distressed, like a girl went out for a run and ran her fingers through her hair, like it’s still sort of sweaty. It sort of all ties with the athletic theme.

And then she throws on a gown

Because that’s my woman!