Norisol in her studio
A few weeks ago, I received an email with some images of gorgeous looking leather jackets and coats from a designer named Norisol Ferrari. If you haven't noticed, black clothes tend to photograph terribly, and design details flatten together into indistinct and nondescript mess. I had a feeling I had to see the clothing in person, and immediately accepted Norisol's offer for an up close look at her work. I stopped by yesterday for a whirlwind tour of her studio, which in itself was a sight to behold, and Norisol was gracious enough to model nearly every piece in her collection for me in spite of the sweltering heat.
Seeing the clothing in person fully allowed me to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of Norisol's work. Each piece is handmade in New York's Garment District, and has a long leather tag inside inscribed with the signature of every single person who had a hand in making the garment. To give you a sense of the work involved, the tag I saw appeared to have over twenty names written on it, since each person specializes in their skill, whether it's putting in the pockets or constructing the lining. Norisol fully believes in supporting the few remaining skilled craftspeople in the district, since industry has shifted increasingly overseas, and this kind of leather work is sadly becoming a dying trade in New York.
While Norisol's designs have a distinct rocker aesthetic, and has attracted fans like Lenny Kravitz and Sean Lennon, she believes in prioritizing function, and then building her designs around suiting the wearer's needs. First and foremost, all of her jackets are constructed to endure a nuclear winter, with each of her leather pieces lined in a thick layer of cashmere, which is then covered in silk. Each coat has plenty of pockets, allowing the wearer to leave their bag at home. One mutton-sleeved leather jacket is even fully reversible, allowing the wearer to sport the cashmere interior for business meetings, should they come up.
A born and bred New Yorker like myself, Norisol has the no-nonsense attitude of someone who always knows exactly what she wants. She started her career at just thirteen, lying about her age to land her first fashion industry internship. While most of her work experience came from working in sales and in showrooms, she taught herself how to design along the way. She therefore doesn't create her collection under the usual model, and even though she designs a new collection every season, she sees her pieces as timeless, and produces them in a limited edition of twelve, continuing to make them until they are all sold out.
Naturally, with such a labor intense construction process, and such luxe materials, the Norisol Ferrari line sits at a very high price point, and is currently available by appointment only at her studio. It will also be arriving exclusively at Maxfield's in Los Angeles this fall. Even though the pieces are out of my budget, they're definitely worth saving up for...
Norisol models the Victory jacket
Another shot of Victory
Norisol models the Alvarez, a goat hair vest with a sheared mink lining
The Alvarez collar can be worn up around your ears, or down
Norisol's desk, brimming with feathers, and two of her hats
A top hat from Norisol's accessories collection
The Marlene long jacket and the Wray jacket, with more hats from Norisol's accessories collection
Norisol's mantle is filled with antiques and curio
The Amelia tailcoat
The Dawn hooded coat
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Norisol in her studio