Kelly Wearstler

How did Kelly Wearstler develop her killer aesthetic sensibility? By auction- and flea-hopping all through the eighties. “In one row, I would see things that were turn-of-the-century, French and Italian pieces, and in the next row, there’d be something completely modern,” Kelly explains. “Educating my eye and seeing these different objects play against each other made me fall in love with art.”

Her next move? Art school, naturally. The South Carolina native packed her bags and headed for Boston where she waited tables by day and spent her nights studying graphic design and architecture at the Massachusetts College of Art. After graduation, she signed up for an apprenticeship with world-renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser (That “I ♥ NY” logo? Yep, that’s him) to put her already-sophisticated design skills to work. By 1998, she was well on her to becoming an interior-designer powerhouse, starting with the Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills and moving onto the Viceroy Hotels and Bergdorf Goodman’s BG Restaurant—oh, and her own home line, which oozes her signature raw-meets-refined style.

But Kelly found no need to stop at décor. With a loooong list of happy clients already under her very stylish belt, she decided to bring her skills to, well, belts—and jewelry, jackets, dresses, and bags, taking her namesake label into the apparel-and-accessories realm in 2011. “You just have to be focused,” she explains of her envy-inducing empire. “I’m confident, I know what I want, and I know what I don’t like. There’s no, ‘Let me think about it.’ It’s just, ‘Yes. I like it, let’s move on.’” —monica derevjanik

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