Inside the Design Studio with Stephanie Cohen

How did you get started in the fashion industry? I went to Parsons School of Design and majored in fashion design. My first internship was with Stephen Burrows, an amazing designer from the 60s-70s Halston era. I was fortunate to experience a lot of the ins and outs of the industry working with his team because it was small (only 3 people including him). I had a couple other internships during school and my internship at Ann Taylor loft made me focus my career towards more corporate design jobs out of school. My first job was at Free People I was a Design Assistant for their intimates team. When I moved to aerie that was where I discovered my love for designing swimwear. And the rest is history ! :) 

Who has inspired you most throughout your career as a designer? My dad is my biggest inspiration, even though his career is so different from mine. He started as an engineer and worked his way up to the executive level. He worked and traveled a lot when I was growing up, but that gave me the drive to follow my passion and work as hard he did.

Where do you typically look to find inspiration (online and IRL)? I am most inspired by vintage clothing, accessories and textiles. I have a few go-to vendors who travel around the world curating amazing vintage collections, but I also love going to local vintage shops. I’ve discovered some great finds on Etsy as well. Outside of my vintage obsession, I love for my team to keep current with what’s happening on the runway each season. Looking at RTW is a great way to get inspired by trends happening outside of the world of swim, but also a good way to establish seasonal color and it pushes us to think outside of the box regarding design details etc.

The Anne Cole Design team, pictured from left: Kelly Freund, Stephanie Cohen, and Rachel Hamel.

The Anne Cole Design team, pictured from left: Kelly Freund, Stephanie Cohen, and Rachel Hamel.

What is your favorite part about your job? I have an amazing team and we have a lot of fun in the studio. The most exciting time is when we get to see things come to life. We put a lot of work into fitting and developing each individual style in house, so it’s really exciting when it all comes together as a line and we get to share it with everyone.

Tell us about the current collection... Our 2018 collection was inspired by the “it girls” of the 60s-70s. Our Anne Cole muses were Audrey Hepburn and Patti Boyd. We wanted to capture the spirit of their iconic style and pay homage to that transformative time in fashion. We have some really stunning prints, fun fashion colors, and unexpected details. I think our Anne Cole lady will really love it! 

Would you mind describing your creative process? I start by establishing our seasonal brand concept/concepts. This is something that definitely happens organically. I don’t like to force anything and will often explore colors/prints/design elements with my team while establishing big ideas for the season as they tend to go hand in hand. My associate designer Rachel and I built an incredible color library when we first joined the company and we re-fresh it every season based on the seasonal POV. Once I’ve established our brand concept, we move into creating our color and print distortion, which probably takes the most time. We do not have a print/cad artist in house so Rachel, Kelly and I often spend hours tweaking artwork and color positions— moving the pieces around until we establish our strongest story. 

What do you do to get creatively unstuck? It’s important to know when to step away from something and give your mind the space it needs to reset. My team works on a lot of different brands so when we are in the office we are going a mile a minute and we definitely get stuck from time to time. I try to make sure we get out when we can so we get inspired by everything amazing that is around us in NYC. Maintaining a balance between work and life is also important to preserve creativity and is something I am trying to get better at.