Mi Jong Lee’s ready-to-wear collection, Emmelle, has flown curiously under the radar since its launch in 1982, despite having an impressive roster of powerful women among its clientele, including Oprah Winfrey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Eugenie Radziwill, Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, who wore a custom turquoise linen look from the designer during her recent campaign outings. The discreet New York-based brand, which operates two flagships on Manhattan’s Upper East Side as well as an e-commerce site, is expanding for resort, launching a more upscale collection, Emmelle Black Label, to exist under her Emmelle umbrella.
Separates, suiting and statement dresses, manufactured at Lee’s Manhattan headquarters, will feature more elevated techniques than in her main line — including hand-beaded trims and silk satin bindings — and an opportunity for the designer to explore her artistic side. “My instinct was to turn to vibrant color,” she said of the line’s debut collection. “Matisse’s mastery of color was my primary source of inspiration; his ‘Blue Nude’ always resonated with my Asian heritage.”
Emmelle Black Label will be sold at a higher price point, $450 to $1,600, whereas the main line averages $250 to $800. The Emmelle collection currently counts South Carolina boutique Coplon’s, as well as Julian Gold and Tootsies, both in Texas, among its select retail partners.