Lizzie Fortunato Jewels began when twin sisters Elizabeth and Kathryn Fortunato combined the former's creative mind with the latter's business savvy. Elizabeth designs and sources materials for the New York-based company's eclectic seasonal lines of jewelry and handbags, while Kathryn keeps the numbers in check, making for a smooth-running family affair. The young entrepreneurs have been featured in dozens of magazines internationally, from Vogue and Harper's Bazaar to In Style and Marie Claire.
This Saturday, June 29, the Fortunato sisters will be making a stop in Denver at Goldyn for a trunk show of the Lizzie Fortunato Fall 2013 collection. In advance of the afternoon meet-and-greet, Westword spoke with the sisters about their work. Keep reading for their answers, as well as a first look at some of the collection that will be available at Goldyn this weekend.
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For the this fall line, like many of her collections, Elizabeth Fortunato drew inspiration and materials from her travels. The process works both ways for the designer: She can head out on a mission to find the right textiles and stones for a concept, or be inspired by what she uncovers on trips. "I often say that it's a new material or technique that inspires a new design, as opposed to the opposite, where I dream up a design and then seek out the materials to execute it," says Elizabeth. "I am particularly interested in artisanal techniques and crafts like hand-beading, weaving and knotting. I am a magpie for textiles; Whenever I travel, I try and collect different textiles from that place, which often then influences the way that collection unfolds."
On a recent visit to Japan, for example, she photographed thousand year-old kimonos -- which translated into specific print and stitching ideas for a future line. Or the designer will start to gather physical samples as a way to visualize a look. "I rarely sketch first," Elizabeth explains. "I am such a visual person and prefer to try putting things together and taking them apart -- often many many times -- before I start to see things laid out the way I want them."
"Sometimes, it's quite literal -- an old textile will reveal itself as the perfect stitch technique or print for a handbag or a beautiful strand of stones will influence an entire series of necklaces," Elizabeth continues. "Sometimes it's a little more roundabout -- the travel will instill a certain 'mood' in me and then the pieces that I'm working on all seem to take on that mood."
Regions, too, can have an impact. "This often happens when I'm in the American West and Southwest -- we spend a lot of time in Colorado, Wyoming," she says. "I always come home wanting to make pieces with Native American influences, turquoise, seed-beading and the like."
Kathryn Fortunato's role in Lizzie Fortunato Jewels is the more practical one, making the duo a dream team for this kind of a business. "It's pretty black and white," says Kathryn. "Lizzie has an art history and English background and an innate creativity and passion for design, while my background is in finance -- I majored in economics and spent my first four and half years after college on Wall Street."
But the fact that they are sisters is also integral to the business model. "When we walk into the office in the morning, there is no question that she is designing and I am focused on sales, operations and finances," says Kathryn. "With that said, and given we're a small company, most decisions are quite collaborative -- we both brainstorm on aesthetic, sales strategy and PR placements. We are twin sisters, roommates and partners in a business, I guess we can't help but be collaborative!"
See more of the Fall 2013 Lizzie Fortunato Jewels line on the following page.
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The Lizzie Fortunato trunk show and meet-and-greet goes down this Saturday, June 29 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Goldyn. The event is free, but an RSVP is appreciated; contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the boutique's website.