When a chance to interview an Accessories Director of a major publication arises, you jump on it quicker than a new skort craze. That’s just what I did when I got the opportunity to sit down for an one-on-one with Leah Karp of InStyle Magazine. We talked about her dream job with InStyle and how the 9West partnership came about.
Day in and day out Leah gets to do what she loves. How many of us can say that? Between attending fashion shows in Paris and Milan and scoping out the latest trends; the project keeping Leah busy these days has earned her an unofficial title of an accessory designer. In preparation for the interview, I asked myself what my readers would want to know about Leah and her line of work and here’s what I came up with.
FW: What is an average day in a life of an Accessories Director like?
LK: The funny thing is that there’s not really an average day. Because it all depends on what we’re working on and what we’re shooting. Some days I spend almost entirely out of the office seeing everything new that’s out there. Especially right now with collections having just shown in Paris and Milan. I’m going on appointments to see all the bags, shoes and jewelry that didn’t go down the runway and those that did; taking pictures, logging them and downloading them at the office. We’re also working on stories for the magazine and shooting for the July issue.
FW: How many emails do you wake up to?
LK: What’s funny is that I purposely don’t have a total shown because it can be so overwhelming. I sort of know what needs addressing immediately. A lot of people want so badly to get their product in, sending over press releases and pictures and then of course there are office emails. It’s a big process every day. It’s stressful and intense but at the end of the day its a dream job. But the last thing I do at night is check my email and the first thing when I wake up.
FW: How did the partnership with 9West come about and what do we need to know about it?
LK: It is the first of its kind in terms of marrying a big media vehicle like InStyle and a big brand like 9West. The collaboration started last fall. It was so successful that we wanted to bring it back. The reason that we originally partnered up is because the InStyle customer and the 9West consumer are so compatible. We both appeal to women 25-49, fashion and trend driven and trend relevant. 9West knows shoes, 9West runs the gamut of shoes, they have every kind of shoe for every kind of woman and InStyle has been the go-to magazine for every kind of woman for the last 20 years. So it really made sense to marry the two brands. And we’re excited to be bringing the collection back again in the upcoming fall.
FW: Who designed the shoes?
LK: I worked directly with the head shoe, bag and jewelry designers for 9West. I came in with my trend books, color boards…with exactly what I wanted to do by shape, heel height and color. And we worked together to design the pieces.
FW: Radiant Orchid being the Pantone color for 2014, which accessories from the 9West collection would you recommend with it?
LK: I think easily one of the grey shoes because I absolutely love the color. I designed it because I honestly always wanted the perfect grey shoe. It took the longest time to find that exact color. I think that would be beauuuutiful with radiant orchid and I think it also pairs really well with black.
FW: I read a post about you called ‘What’s in my bag,’ where you talk about the Band-Aid Friction Block. To me, it’s like lipstick, I, too never leave home without it. Do you have any other fashion tips that you can share?
LK: For shoes I would say, if you’re trying on a pump and it’s a little high or it’s a little uncomfortable I suggest two things. Buy it a half size bigger and put a pad on the bottom or some kind of a gel insole. Immediately they’ll fit better and feel better and enable you to wear something that you otherwise couldn’t. My other secret living in New York is that I always have a pair of flats in my bag. I don’t leave home without a pair. Then you can wear any shoe you want. The 9West collection has some great flats options.
FW: While we’re on the topic of shoes, how do you feel about shaving off a part of the heel to make a shoe work?
LK: I think that it is absolutely a legitimate thing to do. You do need to be aware of the amount that can be shaved off due to the pitch of the shoe before buying it. The amount that can be taken off is pretty minimal but it can make a world of difference. I have a few pairs that I’ve done it with and it’s worked out great. When you’re buying the shoes you also need to know the purpose in wearing them and go to a GOOD shoe maker. Be sure to always bring in both shoes at the same time.
FW: Being an Accessories Director you must notice how steep the prices of accessories are getting. What do you recommend those of use trying to stay on trend while also being budget conscious?
LK: Well, first of all, shop at 9West. The collection we designed is really fashion forward, on trend and affordable. My second tip would be to look for sales. We all do it as editors. Search for sales and shop our collection and you’ll have all the essentials you need.
FW: What are your favorite trends for the Spring?
LK: I really like the minimal trend which is what I went with here. I also love the idea of things being able to go from day into night. I really love the sporty trend that’s out for Spring. I like it in both clothing and accessories. It’s fun and it’s an interesting departure from everything being so super ladylike. Things like mesh, slip-on sneakers, backpack bags, jogging pants I wear them all the time. I have leather ones that I live for. It’s great to offset your feminine pieces with something a little more sporty and masculine.
Check out the beautiful pictures from the 9West/InStyle Miami Event taken by the talented Mayra Roubach from www.mayraroubach.com
All in all I was super impressed with the 9West/InStyle collection. The pieces were well made, wearable and comfy as they were cute. Leah was a true inspiration and her tips were invaluable. Now go check out the collection for yourselves and see what you think.