Multiplatinum recording artist and actress Vanessa Williams’ new fashion collection, V. by Vanessa Williams, will be available starting Saturday on digital commerce firm Evine Live.
Evine has been expanding its exclusive fashion offerings for the last two years. The first collection includes 18 styles comprised of jackets, dresses, tops and bottoms that are inspired by Williams’ personal wardrobe and style. Fifteen new styles will become available in April, followed by 14 more in May. Retail price points range from $39 to $100.
The collection is the first apparel line for Williams, who years ago had dabbled with the idea of a handbag line. “I had a bunch of inquiries while playing Wilhelmina Slater in ‘Ugly Betty,’ but if it’s not the right fit or partnership, it’s not worth pursuing,” Williams said. She added this time around, “the time was right, with a great team.” Evine first reached out to Williams about two years ago.
In putting together the first selection of product, Williams said she has been meeting regularly with the manufacturing firm in New York, “dragging in a bunch of my stuff that I love.”
That typically sets the stage for discussions about color, styling and drape. “They also get a chance to see what I live in, and what I wear every time I come in. I have a signature color palette that I tend to wear a lot,” she said. Williams has a preference for greens, grays and blues, while black and white, with a touch of red, are the easy choice for when she’s traveling. She also favors loose-fitting, flowing fabrics and silhouettes that combine a touch of elegance, such as a gray chiffon tunic with a small amount of smokey black beading at the neckline for a bit of shimmer.
“I love animal prints, but python more than leopard, boho chic and jeans leggings with a strappy sandal. A jacket with a really great shoulder is a great staple to have. I would love to add more shoulder pads within my collection — it’s a clean way to look sharp and give a great shape on top,” she said.
“Everything I build I want to be able to wear a bra with. I am 52 years old. I want to be sure that when wearing [a top or dress with] spaghetti straps, that there’s enough material [for support]. A lot of women my age, plus a little younger, want to wear a bra,” the singer-actress said.
She said someone once described her look as very Westchester-ish, as in Northern Westchester and Bedford, which is one-part “horsey-set with jodhpurs and riding boots for going to lunch” and another part “arty and bohemianlike,” because many residents are creative professionals who live in the city and commute in on the weekends. Williams lives in the county, which is outside of New York City.
Williams has been experimenting with fashion since she was a young girl. Her mom taught her to sew, so while she got the “generic version of what was sold at higher-end stores, I would embroider my name or put patches on the clothes to make it my own.” Her experiences from working in television and theater have also made her more aware of color, and how draping can change through use of different fabrications, she said.
David Miller, vice president of fashion for Evine, said of the growth of proprietary brands at the firm: “We’re giving the customer what she wants….She’s very current and we want to provide a relevant assortment of product. She’s not trend-first, but is very trend aware.”
Miller said the customer profile at Evine is a woman who is in “her 40s and up, who wants to dress and act ten years younger than she is, which is what everyone is doing.” And she’s looking for wardrobe staples for a polished lifestyle from work to the weekend, he said.
While Williams would like to eventually add handbags and accessories such as scarves, Miller said the “cues will come from the customer.”