The Fortunatos Make Collaboration Magic
These jewelry phenoms know how to work a runway.
Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato have quite a partnership going: Lizzie is a design force to be reckoned with, and Kathryn boasts incredible business savvy. Though the twins push each other plenty, they’ve found that one of the best ways to evolve their own work—to try out new techniques or incorporate untested materials—is to partner up with like-minded clothing designers who are looking to round out their collections with awe-inspiring accessories. Here, a look at the diverse aesthetics the twins have attacked with their runway collaborations, what they’ve learned along the way, and where they want to go next.
LFJ x VPL spring 2011
Kathryn: “Four years ago, when we were just starting out, I asked Lizzie, ‘Who would you want to collaborate with right now?’ And she said, ‘There’s this clothing line called VPL—the designer’s named Victoria Bartlett, and she’s so amazing about collaborating with jewelry designers.’ She had worked with Alyssa Norton, Brian Crumley—all these people that we really liked. And a season later, sure enough, Victoria approached Lizzie to collaborate with her.”
LFJ x VPL spring 2009
Lizzie: “We worked with her first for spring 2009. There was all of this origami. We found a girl on Craigslist who made origami birds—that was her thing.”
Necklaces from LFJ x VPL spring 2009 and spring 2010
Kathryn: “Victoria was amazing in terms of giving Lizzie incredible freedom. She was like, ‘The sky’s the limit. You can do whatever you want.’ The inspiration would be broad—like underwater, flying, the human body.”
LFJ x Suno fall 2010
Kathryn: “The same sort of thing happened with Suno that happened with VPL. Lizzie said, ‘Have you heard of this line Suno?’ I hadn’t—it was really early. We didn’t know anything about them, but she just really liked the aesthetic—they appreciate textiles, and so do we. And it was so weird because in January of 2010, four weeks before fashion week, we got an email from Max Osterweis, who is the founder, saying, ‘Hey, I’m Max from Suno. I was in Paris, eating dinner with a friend of mine, and she was wearing an incredible necklace that you made. So I looked you up, and I want to talk to you guys about doing some jewelry with me.’ Whoever that girl in Paris was, bless her heart!”
LFJ x Suno spring 2011
Kathryn: “He and Erin Beatty, the designer, came over to our old live-work space on East Broadway. We used their fabrics, and our jewelry was incorporated into something like seven of the 25 looks. It was really exciting, but it was only a small sign of what was to come. The next season 24 of the 25 looks had our pieces, and there were about ten necklaces on each girl. We started producing the jewelry as it’s own collection.”
LFJ x Suno fall 2011
Lizzie: “For fall 2011, they wanted a more polished look. It was the first time I had ever done so much metal!”
Kathryn: “The collection was inspired by a Diana Vreeland, older-lady character who had been around the world and had this Upper East Side mentality. It was incredibly flattering that Erin came to Lizzie when she could have gone to a number of people who excel in metalwork—Lizzie had never, ever done anything like that. This forced Lizzie to go out of her comfort zone, and, even though she hated it at the time, it was such a blessing in the stars because we probably wouldn’t have evolved our own collection as we did otherwise.”
Metal cuffs from the LFJ spring 2012 collection
Lizzie: “In terms of other people we want to work with, there’s something I like about collaborating with lines that are just getting going. We just started working with the retail arm of Jenni Kayne. We love her aesthetic—it’s sleek and amazingly crisp. It would be cool to do clutches with beaded, graphic shapes.”
Kathryn: “This is definitely a dream one, but obviously Rodarte would be incredible. Lizzie has incredible respect for them.”
Lizzie: “It would be fun to go crazy and dive into a whole new market—to do something for Matthew Williamson for London Fashion Week. You know, to open doors that are really out of our minds.”
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Louisa’s Hat-Making Bestie
Her pal Laela has been helping out since day one.
When Louisa Parris needed hats for her graduate collection as a student at Central Saint Martins, she turned to Laela Barnard, a friend who’s been by her side since childhood. And when she decided to launch a collection of high-minded scarves and hats to accompany her gala-worthy gowns—well, no surprise here: Laela was her go-to girl. “It’s like history repeating itself—her parents were designers, and they were working in Dubai with my mom and dad. And now we’re collaborating,” Louisa explains. “We get along like sisters.” Here, a look at their relationship through the years—because there are few things we love more than grade-school pictures.
“Here we are putting on a show in the garden in Bath, England. Not sure why I’m tap-dancing while Laela is in full wedding outfit with jelly shoes!”
“I spent many wonderful summer holidays out in France with her. Here, we’re sitting on the hood of Laela’s dad’s lovely old Citroen.”
“This is one of the first hats Laela did—for my collection at Central Saint Martins. It’s made from black crinoline and edged in satin bias binding.”
“This is my favorite hat Laela did for my most recent collection—the Windsor Pillbox Hat. I only sent her one sketch, and then she created the most beautiful work. I’m very lucky to work with such a talented, wonderfully close friend.”