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Written by: Amina Touray
Photography and makeup by: Ali Megan
Creative Director: Jake Rafus 
Location: Holler & Saunders 
Hair by: Andrea Pottinger
Designer: Jenny Hermalik of Heart Strings Couture
Models provided by: Cassie Kavir Model Management & Savanah Kavir Model Management 
 
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Award-winning fashion designer Jenny Hermalik is one of a kind. She has invited me to her home and studio where all her creations are made and shares her line Heart Strings Couture. Her intuitive understanding for fashion has forecasted trends years ahead, and some have connected her aesthetics with the likes of Betsey Johnson. Jenny’s studio has its own character and is decorated with shoes, handbags, hats, pictures and drawings on the wall. Every detail that surrounds her in this studio has a story she’s willing to share. Jenny shows me her favorite couture pieces, and each design seems to have its own personality and mood. She says her garments are mood enhancers. She has limitless creative ideas that could last a lifetime. She gives us insight on how to design Avante Garde as we sit down to talk about fall trends, her visions and Heart Strings Couture’s future.

Q: Tell us about yourself Jenny?
Jenny Hermalik: I’m from Sierra Vista, Arizona. As a military brat, I was born in Texas, and also lived in Georgia and Virginia. I have been to both coasts. Growing up on the East Coast sparked my attention and love for details. There are different colors, smells and so many things that go along with each season.

Q: So that has had a big impact in your creations?
JH: Absolutely! I also have a really good visual memory. When I sit down to design and create something; I can understand the feeling for more dimensions than I would if I had seen it other ways.

Q: When did you discover your passion and drive for designing?
JH: I always knew it was my passion. As early as the age of 3 I was an illustrator, I would draw what the people were wearing. I used to make fairy calendars with my sister, and the August fairy would have beach balls on her shoes and a sand castle crown. I always loved paper dolls, and the same thing with Barbie’s, it was never about where they ended up going, it was just about getting them dressed (laughs). So it was definitely always there, but it just took me until the age of 20 to even realize that design was a possibility. Even growing up when you’re supported by people, or in a family where your parents tell you that you can do anything; they don’t necessarily tell you to have a creative career. Your influences in the daily world and school don’t let you consider it as an option because no one is telling you its an option.

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Q: What inspires you?
JH: Life itself. I know that sounds so basic and almost cheesy, but to me Clothes are mood enhancers!

Q: Where do you see Heart Strings Couture five years from now?
JH: I would like it to become a segment of my empire, a certain line if you will. I’d like to have other lines like Ralph Lauren does with The Black Label. Where Heart Strings Couture will eventually become a part of Jenny Hermalik.

Q: Right, and could you describe the style of Heart Strings Couture?
JH: Heart Strings Couture is very whimsical, exuberant and detailed. It’s for the girl who stands out in the room and she’s not afraid to stand out by any means. I feel like I design for the kind of person who is saying, “Look at me, ” and they’re completely comfortable with that because it’s not only for them, it’s for everybody. People can say that you’re overdressed, but they can’t say that you don’t look good (laughs) you know what I mean? It’s for the person who doesn’t care about fashion rules; they want to wear what makes them feel enchanted.

Q: I’m curious; do you ever run out of ideas?
JH: No and that has scared me, because I have ideas all the time. The only time that I do feel like I run out of ideas is when I have that thought, “What if you run out of ideas?” And then I’ll be like “Quick, think of some ideas!” I genuinely have so many ideas that I don’t know if there is enough time in my lifetime. That’s why I’m so passionate about it, because more than anything I want to be able to share everything I have and more.

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Q: Wow, where do you think your drive comes from?
JH: Honestly, from me. Design in itself is really from love. I love it, and I don’t want to do anything else. I think that at least right now in my life I’m so confident about that, and that’s where my drive comes from. If you love something, why wouldn’t you walk to the edge of the earth for it?

Q: True. What are you currently working on?
JH: I just had my first Los Angeles fashion show, featuring me as a designer for Raw Artists, Hollywood. So that was a big moment for me. That was like a welcoming. The fashion show was fun and honestly I live for runway, I love it, it’s so crazy, so hectic and it’s wild!

Q: Would you say that you follow trends?
JH: I would say that I unintentionally set them. I’ve been able to forecast what’s going to be hot by what I liked 2-3 years before. Fashion for me is very intuitive, I just love it and live it and I have for a very long time. I’m not saying that it’s the best understanding, but it’s a very specific intuitive understanding,  

Q: What’s the ultimate goal for Heart String Couture?
JH: My ultimate goal as a fashion designer is just to be able to reach a point where I’m able to be an influence through my art for other people. I want to be able to do what I love doing naturally every day. My end goal is to be able to share all those things, share what I love, my art and my visions with as many people as I can.

Q: Now that fall is here, do you have anything fall inspired that you’re creating?
JH: Fashion is one giant game of telephone, the core being distorted and changed throughout history by the messengers and receivers into their own interpretations. It is why we’re still rocking the pilgrim buckle, 400 years later. Right now I’m inspired by earthy tones, shades of brown, orange and red for foliage, maybe some wicker as a nod to the cornucopia as an Avant-Garde Thanksgiving twist. Faux pelts loom and beadwork in bright colors, staples of the story of fall.

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Q: Have you found any great shops for fabrics here in LA?
JH: Michael Levin seems to have pretty good selections. If I can’t find something, that’s when I get more creative and I’ll just make it myself. If I can’t find a print with stars and hot air balloons, I’m just going to make one.

Q: Do you wear your own designs or where do you go shopping?
JH: Not all of them fit me. The ones that do I rock when the occasion is right. Other than that, everything I own has come from Buffalo Exchange. 

Q: What advice would you give to other designers?
JH: Not just to other designers but to anyone with a dream: if it’s what you really want, there is no reason you can’t accomplish it. Don’t let fear of failure stand in your way. There are no limits in life, other than the ones we put on ourselves. I think too many people live in fear. It’s one of those things where you do it and what you’re hoping for comes out of it, or maybe it doesn’t and you fall flat on your face. But if you don’t even try, it’s not going to happen. Even if you fail there’s an education that is gained in the process of those failures that are tools for your success. So just try. You know when you’ve tried, and you can say you’ve given something your all and when you can’t. There’s nothing to fear about living nobly.

Q: Have you been given any advice from anyone that you look up to, that has followed you?
JH: I was able to meet my personal fashion icon and idol, Betsey Johnson, about a year ago. We spoke for a while and in that conversation she said to me that I should continue to be myself and that I was going to be just fine. It meant a lot to me coming from her because I felt like she could see me then and that she thought that I had something that the world would want to see.

Q: What trends do you predict two years from now?


JH: Ornate sportswear with a boho chic flare. Smoking jackets and couture slippers with velvet and silk burnouts, featured embossing and embroidery detail. Prints and color are being widely embraced and two years from now we will see not just more commonly the mix of prints and color, but also textiles and mediums, creating new strong Avant-garde silhouettes. As well as the introduction of what will be “new classic” textiles in the realm of Lucite and vinyl.

Heart Strings Couture
 Los Angeles, CA www.heartstringscouture.com