Anatomy of Design: Novis

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The Tig Archives 12 / 03 / 2014

Jordana Warmflash is living every up-and-coming designer’s dream—her two-year-old brand Novis has already received countless accolades, she counts Taylor Swift as a fan of her retro-inspired dresses, and she’s accomplished all of this before her thirtieth birthday. We first noticed the New York City-based label as a cheery, brightly hued collection among the sea of black that tends to dominate the streets of Manhattan. So, The TIG sat down with the young designer to delve deeper into her creative process, the impetus for the brand itself, and to hear Jordana’s story. Without further ado, The TIG’s Anatomy of Design with the fun-loving Jordana Warmflash of Novis:

What does Novis mean?
Novis is my dad’s mother’s maiden name—so my label is named after my grandmother’s maiden name.

What is the aesthetic that you’re going for with Novis?
My aesthetic is playful, yet sophisticated—everything is well tailored, all of the fabrics are custom-made. I design all of the fabrics here in the city, and then I have them actually made in Europe. The color is a fresh point of view, especially in the US and New York market where everything is dark and black.

Where do you think your attraction to color comes from, considering you were born and raised in New York City?
It’s about being different. I think I’ve always been drawn to color—it’s what makes things stand out. It’s feminine without being overly girly. And I think most of all, it’s fun, and it makes people feel great when they wear it.

What’s the Novis signature silhouette?
We do a lot of dresses that are fitted to the waist and have a fuller skirt. I like to focus on the woman’s body but from the point of view as a woman. There are a lot of male designers, which is not a bad thing at all, but often times, they can’t necessarily relate to a woman’s body, so I try my best to relate to that, and design clothing that is flattering and makes women actually feel good about their bodies.

How do you feel your designs are different from what’s already out there?
I think what’s out there is sometimes a little bit challenging in terms of fit and fabric choices because not everyone has a perfect body. I try to design pieces that a lot of people can wear, but are also flattering for someone who is curvy or someone who is more narrow. My designs emphasize the waist—it’s more about that then something that’s low cut. A lot of my pieces feature a high neck. I also like to show off the shoulders because I think the shoulders are a little bit sexier than the chest. It’s about redefining what is traditionally thought of as “sexy.” It really has a classic or retro feel without being stodgy. I do love a vintage dress, but with more modern fabrics and colors.

The Design Process

“I usually start with color and then I piece it all together. The process is pretty organic. It goes back and forth—I might start with the color and then go to the shape, and then I’ll go back to the color and switch it up. It’s really like figuring out the puzzle pieces and how they all fit together. The inspiration for the spring/summer collection really started with pop-art—from pop art in general with polka dots and stripes all pieced together and artists like Tom Wesselmann with his uses of colors and shapes.”

The Leroy Dress

“This is a custom jacquard that I designed—it’s oversized, which you rarely see. It has a 28-inch repeat, so from where the pattern starts to wear it ends, it’s 28-inches, which is a really significant size and scale for jacquard. I also chose colors that are unexpected. It has that fitted waist and a more full skirt, which I find flattering. And of course, everything has pockets where it can, because a girl always wants pockets!” [sidenote: yes, we do!]

“We do a different trim every season, every binding and seam is beautifully finished, which is really important to me. There’s all these little details, which I think is specific to the Novis brand.”

The Jerome Dress

“This is all hand-beaded in India. What we did is we took aspects of the print and blew them out even further because I was doing this whole play on scale and created this dress. It’s really fun—it has a big fish on the side and a piece of coral. The pattern wraps around from the front to the back, so it’s really continuous. It’s nice with the juxtaposition of the beading and the sheer panels. It’s not a glitzy sequin, it has a little bit of a subtle sheen. I don’t like traditional beading, so I try to incorporate beaded pieces that you wouldn’t necessarily find anywhere else. They’re sewn in one direction, so it has a smooth finish.”

The Theodore Sweater

“Our sweaters are a signature for Novis. I’ll design fabrics like the jacquard, and then I’ll reinterpret them in knit form. It’s really fun because then you can see a variation of the woven jacquard and then a knit jacquard. That way, we show depth within the collection. We only use the finest Italian yarn and cashmere.”

“For the sweaters for the spring, I designed multi-patterned versions and then we isolated other sections as well, and the isolated versions tie the entire collection together. Everyone loves sweaters and there aren’t that many sweaters out there that play with pattern and color the way that ours do. I do this relief pattern—it’s very technical. It’s done section by section. This is a relief jacquard, so where the clovers are, it’s double layered. This striped section is called a striped-back-relief-jacquard. And then it’s all knit as one, and each section has a different technique.”

Shop the entire Novis collection here.

Photos via: Judy Meepos, Vogue.co.uk, Style.com, Andy Matias

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