This Week's Wow: A Great American Designer Returns with a New Collection for HSN
In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: Sigrid Olsen is back.
I realize this might not be such a "wow" moment for most of you young folk who are online these days, but for many, many women across America, Olsen is a designer they have long admired and sorely missed since her signature brand of sportswear was shuttered seven years ago. Before the label was put out to pasture by its parent company, then called Liz Claiborne Inc., Olsen was the go-to designer for baby boomers who loved her sunny, spirited designs. She once had 54 stores around the country, selling $100 million worth of clothes a year.
Next week, after a long break, Olsen returns to the studio with her first on-air appearance on Tuesday for a new collection she designed for HSN, which is currently available on the retailer’s website. Among her designs, which should bring back memories if you have ever encountered Olsen’s beach-print clothes, are a turquoise “patio party” dress for $89.90, and a crystal blue floral print tunic for $59.90. These are evocative of the original designs Olsen created some 30 years ago, made from stamps she cut from potatoes in the shape of leaves, birds, and seashells.
Why It’s a Wow: I’ve always admired Olsen for her dedication to her customers, putting their needs for colorful, joyous, and most importantly, wearable, clothes above all other considerations. And she’s always approached her business with a philosophy dedicated to promoting an image of well-being. During the years after her label was closed and before she was able to regain the rights to use her name again as a fashion designer, she ran galleries selling her prints as paintings, and organized yoga and wellness retreats for her clients around the world.
“This line speaks to where I am today, versus where I was a few years ago,” Olsen says from her home in Florida. “It’s more of a lifestyle brand. I missed designing, and I wanted to have a slightly larger footprint in the world again.”
Her biggest inspiration has been the women she befriended during her yoga retreats, prompting her to create clothes she describes as ageless, and not just for boomers, with more versatility for beachwear or bohemian chic. There are skinny pants, too.
“These are clothes that are designed to be flattering, but not overly revealing,” Olsen says. “If the clothes aren’t comfortable, they get deleted from the line. I always say I am designing for women who are much like me – active, vibrant, alive. It doesn’t matter what the age is, it’s more about the attitude.”
One other thing that Olsen has realized during her time away from fashion is that a designer doesn’t have to please everyone to be successful. One question she asks of her own comeback is this:
“How can I get back into a faster-paced life in the fashion business and maintain my sense of equilibrium and serenity?” she says. “I ask myself every day, and so far I’m doing it.”