Behind the Creative Mind of Erin O’Brien!

Erin O’Brien

Today marks the BIG UNVEILING of holiday window displays for two major Department Stores in NYC: Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue (other Department stores with holiday displays include, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Barney’s, and Bergdorf Goodman). This delightful tradition announces the beginning of the holiday season and I thought it would be fun to re-post my interview and a chance to once-again meet the amazing creative mind of freelance window designer and prop stylist, Erin O’Brien. This feature was originally posted on December 23, 2016 …

What is it like to be a freelance window designer at famed department store, Bergdorf Goodman? What is it like to have your heart in New York City but to have found your fashion inspiration in London? What are the consequences of leaving home at age 17? Erin O’Brien knows the answers to these compelling questions because they make the story of her life and journey. Here is Erin, one-of-a-kind style originator, sharing it with us …

I was always interested in fashion but it wasn’t until I traveled to London when I was young, that I found my true fashion sense. At 13-14 I visited my family in Ireland; while there, I begged them to take me to London. Being in London affected me enormously; the edgy style, the music influencers – I felt myself being drawn in to it all and that has stayed with me to this day …

Being a window dresser is not as glamorous as you might think. It’s a lot of grunt work and hard labor. I have been working with Bergdorf Goodman as a freelance window designer since 1997. I work on the windows at Holiday and for special windows throughout the year. For creating the Christmas windows, the process is year-long and begins as soon as Christmas is over. This Holiday, I helped install and style the window on 58th Street – a “Bird’s Eye View” of a dog maze – highlighting the most wanted luxury handbags. I selected the handbags for the window, and I also decorated and installed the Holiday Shop on the 7th floor of Bergdorf’s …

I am a prop stylist, window designer, and prop master; my passion is working with props and designing windows (rather than work with people as a fashion stylist). The essence of window designing is to keep people looking. Windows have to be eye-catching but you have to do more than have people look; they have to keep looking so much that they are willing to enter the store. This is where most windows fall short – when they don’t enter the store. Designing windows is an art; looking at a well-designed window is like looking at a piece of artwork … Continue reading

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Mentoring is the Best Part for This Costume Designer

Katherine with her costume team leaders,

Katherine with her costume team leaders, Kate Klaschka and Kira Ross

There is no question that mentoring the kids is what brings me back year after year. I don’t need to make another dress.” ~ Katherine Winter, Costume Designer

As the costume designer for the award-winning Summit High School Theater Arts Program (Summit, New Jersey), Katherine Winter’s job is to design and create costumes for the full casts of the Fall and Spring productions. For over 13 years at the high school, with every production, every cast, every performance, Ms. Winter leaves her mark, her knowledge, and her passion with the students and the adult volunteers who work tirelessly with her on the costume crew. Because more than anything else, Ms. Winter believes that her true purpose is to teach, mentor, and elevate the young people with whom she works. It is a passion that started when she was a young girl using her mother’s Singer sewing machine and a desire to tell stories that is an integral part of Ms. Winter’s Irish heritage. Brooklyn, New York, was the original stage for Ms. Winter’s love of costume design; it all started with that Singer sewing machine and the strong need to create, always create, something entirely from scratch …

I grew up in Brooklyn, the first generation of Irish immigrants. It was common for many mothers of the time to purchase sewing machines and learn to make their own clothes. As my mother, who was very fashionable, was learning to sew, she encouraged me and my brothers to learn with her. My brothers lost interest quickly but I became hooked. I couldn’t sew enough! I loved making things: buying the patterns and the fabrics, and creating most of my clothes! Every weekend I attended a Parish dance, and it became a ritual for me to make a new dress for each dance. As time went on, I made my own Prom dresses (I still have two of those dresses!) and most of the clothing I owned. Continue reading

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