Stylish By Nature
Senior Knitwear Designer at MILLY, Charlotte Greenough, grew up in New York’s West village in the late eighties and nineties in a madcap townhouse full of visiting artists, designers and creative characters. Her mother was an art dealer and her aunt was a model and Warhol girl who founded Fahrenheit, a made-in-NY accessories company that’s been in business more than 25 years. “I started to play in my aunt’s studio before I can remember and slowly learned how to set stones and eventually cut molds,” says Greenough. “These two women instilled me a love of creating that I couldn’t escape!”
In this whimsical environment it’s little wonder that Greenough grew up with an artistic soul. Her flair for fashion, however, is all her own. Her playful choices often capture the attention of Bill Cunningham who routinely snaps her picture for The New York Times style pages.
Here she gives us insight into her creative process, reveals the big trends of summer and describes her dream day in the city:
Describe your role at Milly…
As the Senior Knitwear Designer for Milly my specialty is sweaters–a perfect match since I am always cold. I don’t even want to imagine how many sweaters I own, I’m sure it’s a terrifying quantity. Milly is a fantastic company in that all of their materials are sourced from the finest mills in Europe and I have the opportunity to visit several times a year to source the most luxurious new materials yarns. I’m a little old-fashioned when it comes to design so everything still gets illustrated by hand and we knit swatches in house. I oversee the women’s’ and children’s as well as work on the wovens runway, which has been really exciting.
Where do you get your design inspiration?
Everywhere! It’s so important to just keep your eyes open and do as much as possible! Museums and art and travel are hugely inspiring. This summer I’m making a trip to Venice to see the Biennale, which is always incredible. Over the holidays we were in Morocco. Sometimes you just need to sit down with a pencil or a sewing machine and daydream a little, see what you come up with. Some of my best ideas have come from just concentrating on an idea and seeing what flows.
For example, last summer artist Dan Graham did an exhibition on the roof of the Metropolitan (also a great place for a martini) and it inspired a group of knits for our Spring 2015 runway show. It made me play with transparency and reflectivity. We used clear yarn similar to fishing line to create invisible stripes and textures in the garments. The result was very successful.
What spring and summer trends are you most excited about for 2015?
Structured, crisp shapes. I love the architecture and colors of this season. They feel fresh, versatile and really wearable. I wish I could pull off the denim skirt trend without looking like I belong in a cult, but I know my limitations.
For fall I am lusting after Milly’s double faced knits. They have incredible shapes and feel really new. Mohair sweaters are also on my shopping list.
What one piece do you think we will all want this summer?
Culottes! I’ve bought about 5 pairs of culottes of all different lengths to wear this summer with crisp white sleeveless swing shirts and Marni shoes…and a strapless silk jumpsuit with culottes bottoms from Milly. It’s a great summer dress up look for weddings or events, plus they are great for a limbo line.
Can you describe your dream day in New York & Brooklyn?
My favorite days in New York are the unplanned ones. I love waking up on a beautiful weekend day and going for a daylong walk and picking up friends along the way.
We always start with a fantastic coffee from Crop to Cup in Gowanus and then wander down to Runner and Stone for a pastry – they have the best apple turnovers anywhere. On Saturdays I love to hit the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene to shop for vintage. From there we head over the Manhattan Bridge (much less crowded and better view then the Brooklyn bridge) to Chinatown. I like the veggie buns from the bakeries there or if it’s early enough we grab dim sum at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor.
We love to do the galleries in Chelsea or head to the water on west side to sit in the park and have a picnic or a glass of wine on the highline. In evenings our group of friends love to have dinner parties or meet out for a big group meal. Lavender Lake has a fantastic garden and great cocktails and then we’ll go dancing in Bushwick or at Mister Sunday or MoMa PS1’s Warm Up. New York is such an inspiring city, there’s always something new to do or see. I don’t think I could live anywhere else.