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2013 July 23

Off The Hook: Designer Nadia Tarr's Vintage Inspirations and Genius Draping

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Nadia Tarr Nadia Tarr
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(NEW YORK) Stripes that actually flatter? Believe it. Designer Nadia Tarr sat down with us to discuss her figure-flattering Spring/Summer collection of jersey dresses, jumpsuits, and more. Plus, find out about the eclectic collection of vintage clothing and curiosities, all of which she houses alongside her designs in her Red Hook studio. Take a peek at the collection and get a preview of Fall in the gallery! You'll be snatching up those swing coats in no time. Consider us hooked. 

We hear you have a fabulous studio and vintage collection in Red Hook. Tell us about it!
I have a lot of space and I’ve been collecting for about 10 years. Coats are kind of my thing. It’s my true vintage passion.

Do you wear everything you collect?
I wear a lot of them, but I also have a lot that aren’t in my size. The construction of these things you just don’t see anywhere. So I look to that…I look to vintage in general for a lot of my inspiration. Some vintage pieces are so well-constructed, they’re basically like couture. Really, these were everyday pieces; that’s what's so amazing about vintage. I have vintage dresses from the Seventies that I’ve been wearing for 10 years. They’re still in perfect condition.

What else do you collect?
A little bit of everything! Originally, it was clothes and shoes. Then, I randomly happened upon this little storefront and I just fell in love with it. Something about it was really old school. I ended up opening a shop there and it was inspired by an old candy shop so I had a lot of vintage candies and nostalgia in there. The store allowed me to collect whatever curiosity I could think of.

What’s your fave item in your collection?
My favorite item is this little celluloid baby doll with a small hand-blown glass bottle that fits inside a little peanut shell. I’m like “I shouldn’t own this,” but, you know, you just have to!

Do you go antiquing anywhere specific?
I go to L.A. a lot, actually. It's amazing for vintage clothing, but you can also find the most amazing treasure in New Jersey. I’ll go to Chicago or Boston, too. I go treasure hunting wherever I am. You can go anywhere! Buffalo [N.Y.] is a place where I’d really like to go. Canada, too!

Can we take a peek at your vintage collections?!
I just redesigned my website: you can see a lot of it there, alongside my clothing collection in the section called “Nadialand”. I’m really excited to get to share it with people. At some point you have to stop shopping, and you kind of have to recycle so I’m actually selling some of my vintage items on there. Some of it is selling and I’m like, “Oh my God! No! Not the PVC polkadot rain cape!” But the beauty of that is that when somebody else is drawn to something that special you know they get it. You know they're going to be so happy.

Stripes are a big theme in your spring/summer collection. What's the backstory?
I’m really into proportion. A lot of the vintage clothes that inspire me have great proportions. With the jersey I used in this collection, it’s a real challenge to create proportion because it’s a soft fabric. I use jersey that has a lot of weight and is more structural so it’s not as loose-y goosey, but I also use more fabric like the vintage pieces than a typical modern cut would have. My dresses might have six or seven yards of fabric and that really allows you to create more proportion. Stripes work into that.  Depending on how you drape the stripes, it accents the proportion you’re trying to create. The waist looks tinier and the bottom of the skirt looks fuller. Plus, I think they’re really flattering.

Wait, stripes are flattering?!
Yes! A lot of people think they can’t wear them, but the way I play with proportions, they actually end up being flattering. You have to try it on!

Do you make everything in Red Hook?
We make everything in Red Hook and design the first samples and then our factories are in Sunset Park, which is the next hood over. We’re very local and that’s very important to me.

What are some of your go-to spots in Red Hook?
Sunny’s, which is a tiny bar near the water. We actually shot some of our campaign there. There’s also Bait & Tackle and the Bookcourt. Actually, a lot of tourists go to Red Hook. On the Fourth of July I pretended I was a tourist, sat at the pier by the water, had a lobster roll, and I thought, “I totally see why people come visit here!” It’s like a seaside retreat. I’ve been there since 2004 and I love it. Red Hook is amazing.

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