When this edition’s feature came into question, my dear friend, Emelia Natalicchio popped into our heads. With holiday fast approaching, and the over abundant worries of choosing a great party dress, Emelia’s work perfectly focuses on details and form that act as a simple and elegant inspiration for upcoming events. What we love about Emelia’s work is the enchanting adornments and narrative associations she uses to create these incredible garments.

Emelia, you’ve had an interesting past couple of years. You finished up a breathtaking collection, started an online market company, and began a new collection. What made you put design on pause for a while, and did that time apart push you to put your ideas into work?

Well, my senior year of college was a chaotic time. My world literally revolved around the collection and participating in everything I could before my time at Syracuse University was over. About half way through the first semester my mother said she had received a brochure in the mail about the Kauffman Engagement Fellowship. I had been looking into grad school as option for after graduation as well as possibly starting my own business. The fellowship was an incredible opportunity that combined those two options for me. I was able to give back to my school, truly experience what it's like to build a business from the ground up, and further my education. I have learned so much in the last year about what it takes to create a company and what it means to be an entrepreneur.


My business partner Gianna Foltz will still be continuing on with the company herself while I have decided to become more involved with fashion again. While the start up company was a fantastic learning experience I found myself missing the simplicity of designing. The time away that I spent focused on my venture really helped me to figure out what direction I wanted to pursue. That wonderful direction being a career in fashion design and eventually starting my own design house with a talented team.


I like to the think the time apart gave me a fresh start, a blank sketchbook page to begin designing for myself and an audience of my choice. It's freeing and I feel more motivated/ inspired than ever to make my goals a reality.

From where do you get your inspiration? You have an intricate eye for detail, so what made you decide to create a delicate appliqué and embroidered women’s’ wear line?

Oh, the many, many places I find inspiration. I have thousands of bookmarks for photography blogs I follow. The runways, of course, and the never ending creativity in street style. I love to travel and draw influence from different cultures. The main flow of inspiration though is mainly from books. I am a total bookworm. I seriously love to read so much, I have tons of books. And when I read I get to create these visuals in my head of how I think everything would look. If I don't like something someone is wearing in the story I redesign it in my mind. But it's not just the clothes in the books that inspire though, I love the narrative as well. Everything I have ever designed has a story behind it and it's not just a dress or a top, its a tale of what that garment is meant to be worn for.


I also enjoy finding meaning in the little things; paying attention to the beauty in the details. Thus many of my pieces include delicate appliqué and embellished fabrics because of the intricacy they contribute to the design. I like simple garments that are comfortable but are paired with beautiful overlays that give the end result a complex effect.


Your designs encapsulate this dark and enchanting, yet timeless aesthetic. Do you have a narrative along with each piece you make, or is this a style that strictly explains where you stand as a designer?

It's a little of both. As for my debut collection, I was on a greek mythology binge the whole summer before my senior year. Non Fiction as well as fiction stories that revolved around the myth of Hades and Persephone. There is just something so dark and romantic about the tale. I enjoyed reading the many interpretations and spin offs, then deciding which script my designs would be based on. I ended up with these pieces I pictured Persephone wearing as she transitioned from a young goddess of spring into the Queen of the Underworld.


My aesthetic is very romantic, feminine, and powerful. The style of my garments are typically very ornate but playful, daring, and full of youth. I hope every collection I create embodies these attributes.

It is incredible the amount of work you put into each piece. How do you know when a garment is done?

Every garment I make starts out a sketch which turns into a detailed illustration/ construction map. When my design has been finalized on paper I begin draping the pattern of the garment. Once the muslin is perfect I will sew the final look in the desired fabric and then check it on a fit model. If everything hangs correctly and matches my drawing the piece is complete.


Your fashion illustrations are beautiful. How important is that process for you in order to visualize your final product?

Thank you! I think it's safe to say drawing is extremely personal to me and plays a tremendous roll in my designing process. Besides reading books, I love to draw. My mother has a closet in our house filled with all of her artwork from her college days. It was a treasure chest to me. I would pull her old sketchbooks out and teach myself how to sketch like she does. I would always run to my mom and ask her to show me how to draw something or make her finish the sketch for me. You would rarely find me without a sketchbook and a pencil as a kid. I was even known for always drawing during class in high school.


How did working behind scenes at runway shows prepare you for your own work and would you ever consider continuing to design for runway?

Working backstage at the shows was a great learning experience for how fashion week works behind the scenes. I think interning with an actual designer and working fashion week was the most beneficial experience. Helping get a collection form the starting point to the show is incredible and you are apart of all aspects of the process. As for myself, I'd love to have my work on a runway again. It's a great way to highlight how a garment moves with the body and for viewers to see all aspects of a design.

What is your must-have in your own closet?


Oh geez… my closet is in a perpetual state of contraction and expansion. My favorite statement pieces are a plum velvet, pleated, fit-n-flare dress. My oxblood lace up pumps, an emerald and black colorblock, oversize coat, a rose gold sequin blouse, black and maroon check button down, blue/ green plaid boots, silver knit sweater, leather overalls… (laughs) as you can see the list is quite long. I have acquired quite the collection of clothes, shoes, and accessories over the years.


With so much already accomplished, what’s next for you?

Right now I want to gain more experience in the industry with an already established fashion house. I am looking for an open assistant designer position at companies that have a similar aesthetic as my own. I would be happy working with a talented team of designers that design for a lifestyle, not just clothing, and sets the trends for the industry. If I cannot find a team like this already in existence I am determined to form one myself and start my own company.

You can view more of Emelia’s designs as www.emelianatalicchio.com.

Using Format