It would be a tough call, really, if we were ever faced with having to decide between living in Paris or New York City, but Sophie Theallet doesn’t have that problem. The French-born, New York-based designer gets to live between the City of Lights and the Big Apple — but when she’s in New York, Theallet stays in Brooklyn.
Theallet is, if we hadn’t mentioned this before, the designer of Nine West‘s first collaboration collection, and she held court over not one but two parties at the brand’s New York store yesterday. When we met Theallet and a horde of fashion bloggers for breakfast at the store, she told us she decided to work with Nine West because, “Fashion is for sharing.” (Also, when she greeted us, she graciously performed that double cheek kiss that only French women can execute with charm.)
But it was at the party at night where we got to know a little more about the designer, who spent 10 years as Azzedine Alaia’s right hand. And now that she’s lived in New York for a few years, she calls herself a New Yorker — and that makes the Nine West collection feel sort of like the story of her life expressed in rattan and silk.
“I feel like I’m Josephine Baker,” Theallet told us with a laugh. “She said something like, my art is in Paris and I am in New York, or something like that. And it’s true. For me, the world now is very cosmopolite, and I am part of New York and I am part of Paris. So for sure, I am a French woman. I’m born french, but I’m a New Yorker. I don’t choose.”
And with her collection, you don’t have to choose, either. Its bags and shoes are equal parts Parisienne chic and uptown cool, with a little South of France thrown in for good measure. Theallet chose to live in Brooklyn, where she says she can “work at night and relax,” but she says the city’s magic is its many different neighborhoods and vibes.
Theallet’s work has attracted a lot of attention from the fashion community and famous consumers of all stripes. She’s even achieved what every relatively new designer dreams about doing: dressing First Lady Michelle Obama not once, but twice. We asked Theallet if clients get any better than that.
“I’m fine with Michelle Obama,” she said after a pause. “I love everybody, but I am very happy to dress Michelle Obama.”
And honestly, we’d be pretty happy about that, too.