Getting to Know Derek Lam

Style editor Susan Brierly

The moment I opened my invitation to the Derek Lam fashion show fundraiser at Neiman Marcus Short Hills, I put the date on my calendar in pen. Obviously, I’m a big fan of this international designer.

The event, which featured Lam’s Spring 2012 collection, benefited Opportunity Project (, a Millburn-based organization that supports New Jersey residents with brain injuries. During the runway show, Lam announced that he will be designing a special T-shirt, debuting in March, to raise funds for brain-injury awareness.

Originally from San Francisco, this Parsons School of Design graduate began his fashion career in 1990. After working for many years as a designer at Michael Kors, he started his own label in 2003. In 2006, the Derek Lam collection expanded to include handbags, quickly followed by shoes and eyewear. Today, he is internationally known for designing clothes that are luxurious and feminine, yet straightforward and wearable.

“I always consider what will work for women at this moment, and to me this moment is about luxury without formality. Even at their most feminine, my clothes are not precious or staid,” he says.

Deeply engaged in creative dialogue with the worlds of art and architecture, Lam told me that his Spring 2012 collection was influenced by the clean lines evident in the architecture of his native California.

Guests at the Neiman Marcus Short Hills fashion show were delighted to see crisp A-lines, textured honeycomb and ribbed sweaters, tailored leather jackets, python pumps and bold prints (inspired by vintage placemats), all executed in a bright palette of coral, yellow, marine blue, peppermint, black and white.

Visit for a runway clip of this fabulously fresh spring collection.

Fun Find: Top This Boutique

The mother-daughter team of Connie and Christyn Hagelin recently opened Top This to offer women stylish, flattering clothes. The chic boutique has an especially large selection of blouses and accessories that makes it easy to create fresh looks with things already in your closet. And these girls love helping clients put it all together! “We have something for everyone no matter what age, shape or size,” says Connie. Top This, featured in our style makeover on pages 28-29, is tucked behind Sweet Lucy’s Bakery in downtown Morristown at 62B South Street, accessible via the rear Pine Street entrance. (973-267-0067;

Reinventing Your Style

 “Out with the old, in with the new” is my motto in 2012. I’m sprucing up what I have, getting rid of what I don’t like, and bringing in only what I need.

Here are my top tips for reinventing yourself:

  • Trust a new hair stylist to have his way with your locks. If you’re curly, try straight. If you’re brunette, try red. (I went with a shorter, straighter style.) If you’re not so brave, visit to “try on” lots of different coifs.
  • Toss your expired makeup products and reevaluate your color palette each season. Have you discovered Chantecaille ( natural skincare and makeup? I love the Les Macarons Face Palette with liner, lip gloss, and eye and cheek color. (Don’t miss my one-on-one interview with Olivia Chantecaille next issue!)
  • Update your look by shopping your own closet. Invest an hour mixing and matching all the tops, bottoms, accessories, jewelry and shoes you already own. (You’ll be surprised how much you can do with all the stuff you’ve squirreled away over the years!)
  • Keep only what you love. Send everything else to a consignment shop. Then add a few classic, as well as trendy, pieces to your closet–—cashmere turtlenecks, pencil skirts, tailored jackets, skinny jeans and platform shoes.
  • Repair all those loose buttons and saggy hems, and ask the amazing Rago Brothers in Morristown ( to resole your favorite pumps and boots—they’ll be good as new!
  • Start reinventing yourself and you’ll be inspired to join a gym (and actually go there), improve your nutrition, redecorate the house, finally schedule that mammogram, balance your checkbook, work on your tennis game…yeah, it’s going to be a good year.

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