No Daddy’s Girl
Designer Kimberly Ovitz doesn’t make clothes for the privileged
Story by Liz Black / Photography by Mathew Scott
Certain family names trigger a switch of recognition: Hilton, Hearst, Stewart, Ovitz. While the first three conjure images of rich men and skinny, blonde daddy’s girls, Ovitz is a name with more substance behind it. Maybe Kimberly Ovitz’s father Michael — former head of the Creative Artists Agency for 20 years and president of the Walt Disney Company for 16 months — may be better known, she is the one rapidly becoming a go-to designer for those in need of sleek, modernistic clothes.
Having to beat away the notion that she rode the coattails of her father has toughened Ovitz to critics and skeptics alike. “I worked to really train myself to have the experience I needed, and I established the line all by myself,” she says. Ovitz began working at the green age of 16 to ensure she would have enough experience to someday create her own line. She started with a fashion internship at the American classic company J.Crew, then participated in an intensive summer course at Parsons The New School for Design, which gave her the necessary hands-on experience to ground her namesake line on, nine years later.
After receiving an art history degree from Brown University, Ovitz worked at Imitation of Christ, YaYa, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. “I’ve just seen a lot and I have really great training in different companies,” Ovitz says. “So I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t.” With her well-rounded experience, it was a natural progression to begin working on her own collection, which she did at the prodigious age of 25.
Now known mostly for her black and white hued equestrian inspired women’s wear line, Ovitz will be shocking retinas come September with her first use of color in her “Hopeful Depression” Spring ‘10 collection. The recession hasn’t only affected the mere mortals who make up the consumerist nation; it has hit the pockets of the fashion elite as well. “I’m sick of, you know, what’s going on with the world right now, and although I usually don’t do color, I’m bringing in a color that’s bright and cheery,” she says. “And I’m bringing in metallic, which represents the hope that’s kind of the inspiration.”
Due to the recession, more and more designers are teaming up with chain stores such as Target, H&M, and Wal-Mart to create lower priced lines. “I think it’s great what H&M is doing and what Target does,” she says. “I think that it’s a really great concept. It allows everyone to feel that they’re a part of the lifestyle that you’re creating.” Affordable collaborations reach out to mass consumers, instead of solely focusing on the fashion elite. High-end designers such as Alexander McQueen, Vera Wang, Karl Lagerfeld, and Norma Kamali have already offered discounted collections; Kimberly Ovitz may be one of those names in the not too distant future. “That’s definitely a goal and a dream to do that. I want to. I want to establish my aesthetic and name and do more luxury brand initially, and then I definitely want to make some things that are more accessible to everyone, and hit that market,” she says.
In such a depressing market, Ovitz’s efforts to brighten up her line and look toward the future gives a sense of hope in an industry that is often looked at as dispensable. She is not only doing her part to bring cheer to fashion, but she has a stylish eco-conscious mind as well. She tends to use organic materials in her designs, and says that her favorite piece is “this cozy bamboo slouchy sweater that I think is good, no matter what shape you are. It can last you forever; wear it out, dress it up, make it look cool, but you also can just be cozy in it.” And Ovitz knows the importance of lasting style. She creates pieces that are meant to be worn season after season, rather than focusing on fast trends. “I’m able to do things fashionably, but I also do it for the consumer mind and make it really wearable,” she says. “But also edgy and really timeless pieces that people want in their wardrobe; just staples they’re going to invest in and have forever.”
She knows this is just the beginning. Her classic, edgy line has staying power, and not just because she’s an Ovitz. “I don’t think that if someone just has a successful parent that’s going to determine the longevity of it,” she says, “and the longevity kind of determines the reaction to it from consumers and press.” With items ranging from $170 to $700, consumers are able to snatch up affordable, wearable pieces from Ovitz that they can carry with them from season to season.