(By Christine Nguyen)
They say that some people wear their heart on their sleeves. This is the literal and figurative case for Emma Dizone, a New York designer who recently, and graciously invited me into her home and life. Within ten minutes of our meeting I could tell that what I saw with Emma was what I got. Which was a lot. She quickly showed herself to be creative but organized, bubbly but ambitious, strong yet sensitive. She wasn’t so much a mass of contradictions, but rather a woman who knew who she was and felt little need to fit into any sort of typecast of what a designer should be.
She spoke of her history in fashion and design, how she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology despite the initial pressure from her parents to go into the medical field to become a nurse. Working in a notoriously cut throat field like fashion is often hard enough, but for a petite and animated woman like Emma, being taken seriously was especially challenging. She remembered one instance where a teacher recommended she take her designs to Ralph Lauren. “I left that interview in tears, they didn’t even look at my portfolio.”
“I’ve cried a lot” Emma casually joked. Although there were times when she was dismissed or underestimated, Emma proudly stated that she would absolutely never allow her opposers to embitter or deter her. Nothing could quench her natural curiosity and desire to be involved or at least have some knowledge of every aspect that went into her projects. She often challenged herself by trying new things like teaching herself Photoshop.
After her time at the Fashion Institute of Technology where she graduated Cum Laude she found a position at DMD, Design Merchandise Development, where she was provided with two assistants. While working there some of her designs were picked up by companies like Macy’s.
Despite her sweet temperament, Emma has a toughness and an eye for detail that allows her to thrive in the fashion industry. She prefers to be her own boss and in handling her own designs she has to check and approve of everything. Emma showed me her meticulously put together Text packs, books filled with cuts of fabric and trims for designs that were as technical as they could be so that they left little question as to what she envisioned.
Emma finds most of her inspiration from fabric; she’ll often base much of her designs around certain fabrics she finds. Emma personally meets with her suppliers in order to ensure and maintain the quality of whatever textile she uses, be it bamboo cotton from China or silk from India.
Emma has pretty much established herself as a designer, freelancing for numerous companies like Victoria’s Secret and Royalty. “A lot of that stuff is confidential though,” she whispered apologetically. Emma manages to juggle numerous projects for other companies while simultaneously working on her own. She is the current vice president and chief designer of the brand “Dug”, down under gear, an underwear line for men. The brand was sold in 2002 to Kellwood Company but then bought back by Founder Michael Stoney because he felt that his dreams for his brand were unfulfilled. Now, as chief designer, Emma is trying to bring back the products original high quality. Produced in the United States, dug’s logo is “keep digging deeper,” a saying created in the hopes of inspiring customers to be the best man he can be. The long-term goal for Emma and her team is for the brand to become a Victoria’s Secret for men. A lofty goal for a brand still in development, but there is little doubt that Emma’s tenacity partnered with her creativity will push the brand into becoming just that.