What do you do? How did you get started?
I design shoes. I have a boutique line of shoes called the palatines. I got started by being obsessed with shoes since childhood…. And then starting to work in retail, shoe repair, and finally going to school in Milan to study footwear product development. I developed quite a lot of skills around shoes, before I ever put pencil to paper to design any. That background education has become really central to what I do today.
What do you love most about your work?
Most of it, truthfully. But the part I always find gratifying, even in the midst of stress and chaos, is working with the technicians to solve the inevitable problems that come up when starting to make a new style. Designers always ask for the moon, and it’s the technician’s job to help them understand what’s actually possible. The discussion, negotiation and innovation that happens around this process is my absolute favorite thing.
Where do you find inspiration?
I love the tradition of shoe making, so most of my styles start with fairly classic styles, which get interpreted through the way that I see the world, culture and the way my friends are dressing at the moment. The leather materials are also a huge source of inspiration – it really is the perfect material to create shoes, and it’s often where I begin a collection.
Describe your perfect day off.
Because fashion is such a calendar driven industry, I am an insane scheduler. I schedule everything. Like, when I use the bathroom is sometimes the only variable in my day. This behavior suits my personality almost too well, so on days off, I often have a hard time turning it off. Even if I’m filling my day with fun, inspiring, mellow or social things, it’s still really full.
Recently, I’ve realized how insane that is. So, at the moment, my ideal day might be a balance of scheduled fun things (dance classes, maybe a meal or drink shared with friends), and more downtime with nothing to do? I might freak out entirely if there wasn’t ANYTHING on the schedule….
What advice do you have to offer someone who is just starting out?
That if you’re lucky, you’ve just started the hardest and most rewarding job you’ve ever had.
And to be be clear about when you need another opinion, and when you don’t. Learn your strengths and be open to input from those who know the things you’re not an expert in, but also be clear about filtering all advice through what you know to be true. (This is soooooo hard.)
Recommend something to us!
I recommend using your body in ways that you think maybe you can’t – challenge yourself physically as well as in other ways. As we mature, we can become less in touch with our bodies and what they can do. I recommend staying connected to that, as much as you possibly can.
What is your relationship to Osei-Duro?
I was lucky enough to meet Maryanne and Molly when I was just starting my brand, the palatines. We were introduced by a mutual friend, and when they heard that I was looking for a private showroom to show my collection to buyers, they generously asked if I would like to join them. They’ve been good friends and helpful mentors ever since!
Jessica wears the Denim Trench in Flowers
What’s your favorite Osei-Duro piece in your wardrobe and why?
Ah, I can’t just pick one. For cooler temperatures, I really love my Bogolan Parka. But I did just get the Broad Stroke Maena Boubou dress, which I’ve already been wearing a ton.
Is there a memorable occasion or story where you’ve worn our clothing?
I have a few pieces of the collaboration that Osei-Duro did with the Lululemon Lab. I take a ton of dance classes, and I love being able to wear clothes designed by friends while I do.
Clothing that is designed and made by friends has become a huge part of my everyday wardrobe, so I’ve been thrilled to wear and dance and sweat in some too!
How do you style your Osei-Duro pieces?
Since I’m a tall person, I usually let Osei-Duro do most of the talking, in an outfit. A printed piece takes up a lot of real estate on me! I love to see how others can put together fantastically complimentary print-clashing looks, but I like to focus more on combining textures and colors, so if I’m wearing Osei-Duro, I think of the print as my texture!
Where would you most like to live?
Los Angeles. (That’s where I currently live.)
What is your most treasured possession?
Family jewelry – from my wedding ring, to other pieces that belonged to my mother and grandmothers, I really cherish it.
Which living person do you most admire?