I want to share with you my article in the May issue of Hour Detroit Magazine! I thought I would re-type the article since it is difficult to read through the scanned image.
Four designing women from metro Detroit are making a splash here and elsewhere making jewelry and clothes inspired by a wide variety of sources
NATALIE GRIFFITH looking classic in Tory Burch flats and a striped tunic dress on a sunny day at an upper east side lunch spot in New York City, accessory designer and metro Detroit native Natalie Griffith happily chats about her emerging design business.
As a girl in St. Clair Shores she says she got her fill of sequins and pink tulle. ”When I was little, my mom always sewed my dance costumes and figure skating outfits,” Griffith says. ”I would help her put the beads on and glue rhinestones.”
Apparently, that wardrobe-detail work stayed with her even when she moved to New York for a job with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre after graduating from the University of Michigan.
A few years ago, while shopping for Christmas gifts at Grand Central Station, Griffith came upon a vendor selling headbands. Although she had no formal design training, she says, “I thought, ‘I could make this, and make it even better with some beading here and color there.’”
Soon, Griffith found herself fashioning feminine confections in her kitchen and spending her lunch breaks busily buying fabric and trim in New York’s garment district and in vintage shops. After months of stitching individual Swarovski crystals to material, finding just the right shade of ivory lace, and searching for vintage embellishments, her line New York Nat was born.
The collection of hair accessories and, more recently, belts evoke classic beauty with a twist - think Grace Kelly with a zany Mad Hatter-like touch. Delicate details, such as chiffon and pearls, provide traditional contrast to bold polka-dot and electric-blue headbands.
The unexpected quirkiness is what may have attracted New York Nat’s first buyer. After accumulating enough pieces for a collection, Griffith decided to attend Open See, a biannual open call for aspiring designers hosted by Henri Bendel, the Manhattan-based retailer.
“I got to Bendel at 5 in the morning, and there were 500 people lined up,” Griffith says. To her surprise and pleasure, Bendel’s buyer bought the collection on the spot.
Since the launch of her New York Nat line at Bendel, Griffith’s creations have been spotted on cast memebers of the hit series Gossip Girl and in the pages of Teen Vogue and Seventeen. She’s delighted with her success, but says she’s not expecting - or striving - to be the next Vera Wang.
“I’m happy making my pieces by hand, even if it’s in my kitchen,” she confides. ”They have more character that way.” - Trina Mannino