Byline: Norah Zis
NEW YORK — Most teenage girls worry about the boy next door or a bad hair day, but Spence sophomore Jessie Della Femina has bigger fish to fry. Last week, Henri Bendel hosted a trunk show featuring her mini collection of flirty chiffon dresses, sexy silk tops and skirts for resort.
Granted, she’s the daughter of high-profile parents — Jerry Della Femina and Judy Licht — both of whom came to Bendel’s for the event. But Jessie’s clothes are impressive in their own right. She takes a practical approach to design with looks she and her friends would wear.
Della Femina started designing one summer in the Hamptons when she bought some fabric, showed a family friend what she wanted to make, and the friend sewed it for her. Another friend who worked at Calypso put her in touch with fabric and trim resources, as well as a seamstress, and she was on her way.
At her first trunk show, held last year at her family’s house in the Hamptons, Della Femina sold $6,000 worth of clothes, and she donated all of the proceeds to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. (Her best friend suffers from the disease.) Forty percent of the earnings from the Bendel’s event will also be given to JDRF, and she will donate twenty percent of all future sales to the foundation.
Though she describes herself as a “normal 15-year-old,” she admits she loves the attention she’s been getting. “The first time I knew my clothes were in Bendel’s, I was too embarrassed to ask the salespeople where they were,” she says.
More than 200 people attended the trunk show last week, and the store sold 35 pieces. In addition to Bendel’s, her clothes will be carried at Raffia in St. Barts. Retail prices range from $98 for a stretch charmeuse miniskirt to $358 for a paillette-trimmed silk skirt.
For a “normal” girl, Della Femina seems destined for the extraordinary.