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Fashionista Emelia Natalichhio

By Ashley Lancaster

From Austin High School to a fashion design internship in New York and Paris, this Sugar Lander is making her dreams of a career in fashion design come true

Written by Kennan Buckner | Select Photography by Rebeca Cortes

Sugar Land, TX News (December 3, 2014) - Emelia Natalicchio landed an internship with fashion designer Wes Gordon in New York City in 2011. It was the chance of a lifetime for this young, dreaming designer. “Wes was a magnificent mentor and taught me so much about the industry,” says Natalicchio. “All the knowledge I gained from that internship, I apply every day as a fashion designer.”

SLM_F_14_ Fashion Designer Emelia Natalicchio by Rebeca Cortes (6 of 22)

Emelia Natalicchio is creating her own fashion label and hopes to announce it on social media

The Big Apple
While in New York, Natalicchio helped organize fashion shows, worked on a movie set, and interned during Fashion Week. “I was challenged academically, worked harder than ever, and was surrounded by talented, diverse peers who made me better.”

As Gordon’s intern, she learned from being at his side. “Wes asked my opinion on fabric, designs, and decisions – which made me feel valued and like I was part of the team,” recalls Natalicchio. She would tag along with Gordon to meetings, and he would introduce her to others in the industry. “He was like this unbelievably cool, older brother and at the same time, a fantastic mentor,” she says.

The Creative Process
In the age of technology and information overload, Natalicchio takes time to evaluate and study before jumping into the design process. “My process starts with research,” she says. First, Natalicchio creates a “mood board” with details of various things that are inspiring her new collection. Often, her influences are from current events, pop culture, or a music playlist she’s been listening to. Next, she will draw and redraw designs, adding details and ensuring each look could stand on its own before moving to the next phase.

“From those final designs, I pull my favorites and begin draping a pattern,” says Natalicchio. After that, she makes a sample, fits it to a client, and sends it to a photographer to be photographed. Without question, the key to developing her skills are the countless drawings in her sketchbooks. “I always hand draw my designs,” she says. “If there are imperfections in the designs, I will edit them on the computer.”

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An elegant senior dress designed by Natalicchio – photo by Cary Fagan

Growing up in Sugar Land
Natalicchio’s childhood in suburban Fort Bend was filled with lemonade stands, swim team races, Girl Scouts, and sports teams.
“Though most of my time was spent playing soccer, I used up all of my free time to draw,” says Natalicchio. “I’d raid my mother’s closet full of all of her old sketchbooks, paintings, books, and supplies and spend hours teaching myself how to draw.”

The self-proclaimed tomboy who lettered in soccer and cross country admits she did play with Barbies – but many hours of that time were spent deciding what they should wear. By the time she was a senior in high school, Natalicchio spent every day sketching clothing designs. Natalicchio took graphic design courses and soon realized she was jealous of fashion students. “When looking at colleges, I realized I’d only be happy doing something creative.” During her freshman year at Syracuse University, she declared her major in fashion design.

Learning the Trade
Throughout various internships during college, one of the best tips of advice Natalicchio received on her work was, “Start with what you know, and then embellish.” By learning from experts in the business and looking to leaders in the industry for inspiration, she hopes to create her own

fashion label. “The point of fashion that people forget about because they are distracted by trends is that personal styleis the goal.” The design world isn’t known for niceties, but more for its critics. “As a design student, you get a ton of criticism,” shares Natalicchio.

In her young career, Natalicchio has been awarded the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Engagement Fellowship, the Fashion Designer Showcase, Raymond von Dran IDEA Award, and first prize in the Cross Creek Fashion Show Competition. She also designs for clients and says, “Helping
women find the most flattering design that makes them feel beautiful brings me the most joy.”

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Emelia uses bright colors to create a unique look – photo by Cary Fagan

Designing a Brand
With high hopes for the future, Natalicchio wants all her label’s products to be made in the U.S., and plans to sell solely online and in select boutiques. “In the next decade, I hope to have a strong customer following, have shown at Austin Fashion Week, sell my clothing in stores worldwide, and expand to menswear.”

Natalicchio will soon be unveiling her new line on her website and social media when her label launches this fall. “I am really excited to show everyone what I’ve been working so hard on,” she says. “I hope they like what I have created.” SLM

KENNAN BUCKNER spent much of her childhood writing stories or reading them. She enjoys learning from fellow creative people.

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