[UPDATE: This story was originally published on August 22.]
Courtesy of MTV, Whitney Port’s gotten coffee and rolled calls (and racks!) for some of fashion’s heaviest hitters like Lisa Love, Kelly Cutrone, and DvF, and been witness to some pretty notorious catfights — all while unforgiving cameras caught it on tape. But, there’s no arguing that the brown-eyed girl handled it with go-getter grace, and her résumé's no joke, regardless of where you stand in the great reality-TV debate. By 2008, when Port launched her femme cocktail-style collection, Whitney Eve, she clearly had enough clout to go it alone.
So, cut to 2012 and Port is still going strong. Before she jets off to NYFW for the line's second runway show, we caught up with the stunner for an exclusive sneak peek of what's in store — and, of course, we got a glimpse inside her chill pad along the Venice Canals. We were pleasantly surprised at how unafraid Port was to get real (really!). After clicking through this adorable spread, we think you'll come to love Whitney unscripted, too.
Photographed by Ashley Barrett
How would you describe your personal style and does it ever change from city to city?
"It's a mix of feminine and masculine, print heavy, casual, and textural. When I'm in New York City, it's a little grittier, darker, and chic. When I'm in London, it’s a bit funkier and edgier, and when I'm in L.A. it's more casual and comfortable."
When shopping for clothes, what immediately catches your eye?
"Bright colors, interesting prints, chunky knits, and sequins!"
What are some essential pieces every girl should have in her wardrobe?
"A leather moto-jacket, white men's collared button-down, cute frilly socks for accessorizing, and pointy flats."
Topshop Blouse and Skirt, Whitney Port for Bik Bok Bracelets, Dries Van Noten Shoes.
What’s the most challenging part of being a new designer and what do you love most about it?
"The most challenging part is clearly having to prove that you have what it takes to be a part of the market, that you have enough talent for people to want to wear your designs. And I enjoy nothing more than seeing people wear my line and feel confident in it!"
What's your process like when designing a new collection?
"It's very daunting! I first search for my fabrics. I have many different little hidden spots downtown and manufacturers I frequent to source. Then, I start to sketch and envision what pieces would work with each fabric. After that, I start to think about my custom-prints and sketch more. Somehow it all comes together! With a million sketches in a million different versions, I use a little help to merchandise, and then I go about getting it made."
Tell us why you decided to be the first designer to create an entirely fan-funded NYFW runway show.
"Through Facebook and Twitter I have found that so many people want to know what it takes to be a part of the fashion industry. My Crowd-Funding Campaign
is a new way to engage a community and help share an experience to reach an end goal. So, through this project, curious supporters will receive insider perks such as having a look from the runway named after them, or getting the chance to see hair and makeup tests. They will not only discover what it takes, but be responsible for making it all happen."
Did everything last season come together as you had hoped? Anything you can spill about what we can expect from the show in a few weeks?
"Everything last year turned out amazing. Of course, there are things you learn in the process that you may not do again, but I was so pleased with the show. This year will be elevated — more color, print, and texture."
Did you have any pre-show jitters?
"I usually stay pretty calm. I'm a pretty levelheaded individual — however, the minute before the it starts, I go a little crazy. Except when I say crazy, I just mean internally crazy! Not like screaming or freaking out, just nervously pacing and breathing deeply."
What inspires you when you’re creating a new collection?
many different things inspire me! My line has evolved from both my L.A. youth and my New York experience as an adult. I love to look at blogs like WhoWhatWear
, or go to Pinterest
for street style. Plus, I read magazines like Harper's Bazaar
. I also take inspiration from everyday items like rocks, stones, or the architecture of a local building."
Who are your style icons?
"Princess Diana, Katherine Hepburn; and now I love Diane Kruger, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Abby Kershaw."
Kelly Cutrone (your former boss at People's Revolution) is a tough woman to work for! Do you have any mantras or stress-relieving techniques that help keep you sane?
"Kelly was tough, but she just wanted us to step out of the average zone and do our best. When you know someone is fighting for you and believes in you that much, it’s ok for them to push you in that way. As for stress-relieving techniques, a glass of wine typically does the trick, but I'm not encouraging you to drink in order to solve your problems! Honestly, what helps the most is talking it out with someone you can just vent and problem solve with."
Whitney Eve Top and Dress, Kurt Geiger Shoes.
What's the number one piece of advice you would give to girls who want to work in the fashion industry?
"I would say: Gain as much experience in as many different realms of the industry as possible, starting in college, perhaps even in high school. Also, take tons of classes, especially in design. It’s the one thing I regret."
As an intern, what was the craziest task you were asked to do?
"I had to clean an actress's feet once before she stepped into couture. It was crazy! But honestly, I didn’t even think twice about doing it — I was 20 years old and willing to do anything for my career."
Tell us about your pad in the Marina.
"I moved here about a year ago. I wanted to be on the beach, but didn’t want to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Venice — so, this is my happy medium! I am a two-minute drive from Venice, but tucked away on a quiet street."
Why did you choose that side of town as opposed to near Hollywood where so many of the events take place?
"I wouldn’t live somewhere just out of convenience for nightlife. I also wanted to be by the beach — it's a completely different vibe and pace. It feels like a constant vacation!"
We heard your boyfriend is moving in, congrats! What was that decision-making process like? Will he have say on any décor changes?
"It was so easy! He was moving to L.A. from NYC, and it was just the best scenario. We were only supposed to be in the place for a couple months, but things got so hectic that we renewed. We will be getting a new bed, but that's about it for now. Once we get our own place, he can have as much say in décor changes as he wants. My sisters will stay as well. They all get along seamlessly."
Where do you go shopping for home décor?
"Most of the items in my home came from ABC Carpet & Home
, thrift shops in NYC, H.D. Buttercup
(my secret splurge place!), and I've collected some garage-sale finds like the gold-framed portrait of an old Hollywood actress in my living room."
What's the key to getting along with roommates?
"Patience, and having separate lives."
Have you guys hosted any summer parties you care to share?
"I've been traveling too much this summer to take part in any ragers, but my sister has had quite a few!"
If you could go back in time, would you do The Hills and The City again?
"Definitely. Though it's caused people to have preconceived notions of me and altered my sense of privacy, it has given me the exposure and the means to have my clothing line, which is exactly what I wanted it to do."
Are you still close with any of your former castmates?
"I'm still close with Kelly Cutrone, as she continues to mentor me and produce my shows. I've kept in touch with Roxy Olin, but that's pretty much it."
What did you like most about appearing in those shows? What did you like least?
"I loved all the amazing opportunities I received in regard to my career, but I didn't like being in front of the camera or caring about how I looked all the time."
Your skin is absolutely luminous. Do you have a specific beauty regime you try to adhere to?
"Yes, I use Finer Skin Institute
products. I also make sure to cleanse, tone, and moisturize morning and night."
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle in such a hectic, fast-paced industry?
"Everything must be eaten in moderation. I work out regularly and eat what I think is good for my insides, while enjoying bits of what I love. It can be trying, and you only live once, so you have to enjoy yourself while staying balanced."What are your favorite spots in L.A. to grab a bite to eat?
"So many! I adore The Brentwood Country Mart
, La Scala
, Which Wich
, Gram and Papas
, Bottega Louie
, Cafe Vida
, A Votre Sante
, Beverly Hills Juice
, Kings Road Cafe
, and Sunset Tower
Describe your ideal day.
"I'd wake up with my boyfriend then walk to get coffee. We'd spend the day at the beach and come home to enjoy a big meal (hopefully he's the one cooking!)."
What are your tips for putting together a noteworthy ensemble?
"Step out of your comfort zone, feel sexy, plan ahead, and embrace your personal style."
When was the first moment you remember knowing that you wanted to work in fashion?
"Honestly, I can’t even remember a specific moment. I obviously realized I loved fashion when I was taking style tips from movies like Mermaids or Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead, but I think it was just in my nature."
What motivates you to succeed?
"My love for what I do, and the feeling I get when witnessing someone feel confident and sexy when wearing my clothes."
What has been your proudest moment thus far?
"Seeing my last collection walk the runway at Lincoln Center."
FindersKEEPERS Top, Cameo Pants, Loeffler Randall Shoes, Dannijo Necklace.