INTERVIEW: The Sisters of William Okpo Brighten Fall 2012
Feb 15, 2012 - by Jessica Lapidos
Sister sisters Lizzy and Darlene Okpo woke up one morning six months ago and decided they would not be afraid of color for fall. Their brand William Okpo, named after their father, would undergo a brilliant transformation as they designed for the first time with themselves as the wearer in mind. For a young company in their fifth season, whose palette has thus far been hovering in neutrals and black, the jump to technicolor might be a risky one. Will fans follow suit? Given the gasp-inducing melange of colored wools, accented with deceptive plastic pieces and vivid hues, they're likely to garner a slew of new fans along the way.
Which samples have you been sampling perhaps a bit too much before the show?
Darlene: I love the short mini skirt, and the turtleneck sweatshirt. I love the knitted sweatshirt with the two-toned pants and the varsity jacket.
Lizzy: She's taking all my looks right now.
D: And I know a lot of people were kind of quirky about it, but the moto jacket.
L: In plastic!
D: You can be stylish in the rain.
Which look changed the most since the initial sketch.
D: This time we kind of knew what we wanted. It was more of getting that statement piece and saying I'm going left while you're going right. It was all about vibrant colors. It's wintertime, it's dark. I wanted to bring confidence to me.
What was the difference between designing for yourself versus your target market?
L: I wouldn't say it was easy because Darlene and I have different styles, but it was more fun. We looked at everything like, I want that, and that, and that.
D: Actually I'm buying [the floor length varsity jacket]. That's my number one must have.
L: Stealing it, more likely.
What was that feeling like when you first had the thought, "I'm not going to be afraid of color this fall," as you said in the pre-show video.
L: We've been saying that for seasons! From the beginning we've wanted to just go out with color, but we were like, ohh would people like that? But this season it was, why wouldn't people like that? If people like what you do and enjoy your work season by season, they're going to learn to just to ride with this new season.
It was a bold move. Those green and yellow wools, ooh! They're so rich!
D: That was the wacky tacky outfit!
You're sisters, so I'm sure you have a lifetime of practice, but how do you compromise design decisions?
L: It's a natural thing. We shared a room forever! When you've been able to live with someone for so long, and be forced to go everywhere with them and hang out with them, that relationship is inevitable.
D: We're business partners. And if we ever decided we want to go our separate ways, our Dad would look at us like we were crazy. I would get the phone call first because I'm the oldest.
L: We still get yelled at by our parents.
When did you get to sleep last night?
L: We didn't!
D: I did, I went to sleep at like 10 o'clock.
L: You can't when you're wiggling around thinking, OHH this has to be sewn by the morning.
D: What's frustrating is when you're trying to sleep and you're dreaming about the clothes.
L: I had a piece of fabric thrown at me in my sleep! Just flying off the shelves, hitting me. That's called anxiety.
D: Fashion nightmare.
Enjoy the technicolor fashion dream of William Okpo: