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August 31 2014

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6 posts tagged "Venus Williams"

Venus Williams Courts A Fashion Business Of Her Own

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Venus Williams has logged in multiple front-row cameos at New York fashion week over the years, often on the arm of André Leon Talley, and the 32-year-old’s journey from fashion voyeur to designer was complete when yesterday evening the tennis star unveiled her own sportswear line EleVen. “I wanted to show movement and style,” explained Williams, who eschewed a typical runway presentation for a stage dressed as a tennis court and hired athletes, including former middleweight champion Michael Olajide, former New York City Ballet dancer Albert Evans, and trainers from SoulCycle and Tracy Anderson Method, to “perform” in her Spring 2013 collection. “Whether they’re going to the gym or the grocery store, people wear activewear throughout the day, and I wanted to show that you can still feel comfortable and look good.” To that end, the clothes, which included women’s and men’s athletic apparel, featured classic workout gear (moisture-wicking shorts and sports bras in bright hues like peach and aqua) along with style-savvy pieces (A-line racer-back tennis dresses splashed in a watercolor print inspired by Monet’s Giverny). Style.com caught up with Williams backstage to discuss the new line, her design philosophy, and what article of clothing she prefers to wear at home. Hint: You’ve seen it a few times before.

Why the name EleVen?
It’s better than a ten. I want to encourage people to take it to the next level in whatever they do and push past their limits. There have been times in my own life, whether it’s because of society or other people, when constraints and rules have limited me. But when I pushed past those limits, I realized I could do more than I ever thought possible.

You’ve been a front-row fixture at NYFW for years. Were you inspired by other designers?
Absolutely. One of my favorites is Mara Hoffman. She does gorgeous patterns and prints. Part of designing is finding trends you’re inspired by and making them your own. Ultimately, it’s about creating simple, flattering pieces—it’s all about the lines.

Said like a pro. Did your friend ALT give you any tips when first starting out?
André is such an amazing guy. He’s an icon. I didn’t want to bother him because he’s so busy but he did give some advice. There was this floral print in my capsule collection and he’s like, “Oh that’s a winner. Make it into a dress!” So we did and I wore it at the U.S. Open—everyone loved it.

Are you more nervous before a match or a fashion show?
A match is definitely worse. When I’m on the court, I’m all by myself and there’s no one to help me out. With fashion, it’s a collaboration. It’s important for me to hear other people’s opinions. You’re trying to get the best idea out there, not just the one I like the most. In the beginning I tried to do everything myself, and then I realized that there are people who know what they’re doing, so I can rely on them as a team—that brought my stress level down a lot.

What’s your style like off the court?
Everybody laughs because I usually I walk around the house in a tennis skirt. I know, I have issues. Maybe because it’s easy to put on and has built-in shorts. I’m never out of character.

After such a busy summer, are you treating yourself to a vacation?
Vacation to me is chilling at home. I’m on the road a lot so I don’t want to even see any luggage. I love to read books and sing karaoke—just no shopping. I had a major a shopping addiction.

Don’t we all. Anything specific?
Diamonds. No seriously, it was a real problem. I’ve been clean for three months.

Photo: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Designer Diary: Jen Kao’s Postcard From The London Olympics

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Though her September fashion week show in New York is just around the corner, designer Jen Kao (pictured, above) set some time aside to jet to London with her family for the Games. In between tennis matches, gymnastic finals, and a trip to the countryside to take in some of England’s most iconic sights (including the set location for Downtown Abbey, Highclere), Kao documented her trip and shared it with Style.com. Here, Kao’s dispatch from London town.

If it sounds insane that I raced to the Olympics four weeks out from my Spring 2013 show, it’s because it is. But there are few things I find as awe-inspiring as this rare, positive global human spirit and phenomenal performance of athleticism. Day one was full-on tennis at Wimbledon. Tennis is a personal favorite, having played on my high school team (I admittedly had a moment of nostalgia for my first un-pleated jersey tennis skirt). The next morning, I subconsciously dressed to support Team U.S.A. Gymnastics, à la Comme des Garçons x Matt Groening. At North Greenwich Arena, I cheered for the phenomenal McKayla Maroney in the women’s vault finals. In between various games, I spent a little time running around Regent Street and Piccadilly with my mother. We had some fun snapping shots of the fantastic Yayoi Kusama x Louis Vuitton boutique window displays and I managed a little run-by shopping at Dover Street Market—so much Comme, so little time. We also took a break from the Olympics one day and headed to the countryside to check out landmark stops like Windsor Castle, Highclere (the set location for Downtown Abbey and the home of the late great Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb and was allegedly killed by the Curse of King Tut), Stonehenge, Bath, and Oxford. Though this diary ends here, my fanfare at the Games will continue for a few more days. Go Team U.S.A.!


At Wimbledon to support the sister duo Venus and Serena Williams.


Watching the gymnastics finals at North Greenwich Arena.


Kao in front of the Yayoi Kusuma x Louis Vuitton window display.


The designer and her family took a break from the Games for the day and headed to the countryside.

Photos: Jen Kao

What’s Tennis Got To Do With It?

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Venus Williams incited a minor international debate with her slightly bordello-ish lace outfit at the French Open a few weeks back. But if you thought that was…well, whatever you thought that was, the unfazed fashion plate promises you ain’t seen nothing yet. “I know that the French Open outfit look caused a stir, but I think the one I will wear in the next couple days will be better yet—it’s all about lace and fringes, a lot of fringes. I’m thinking about Tina Turner here. I am not sure how that is going to go over, but at least I can say that it will catch everyone’s attention.”

For the moment, though, Williams was clad in Ralph Lauren, at RL’s New Bond Street London shop for his annual pre-Wimbledon party. (As the man is preparing to sell a tiny percentage of his company for quite near $1 billion, there was, needless to say, much Champagne flowing.)

Well, if anyone can avert eyes from World Cup mania, it’s Venus—she certainly held her own among Gwyneth Paltrow, her bestie/stylist Elizabeth Saltzman Walker, Matt LeBlanc, Love‘s Katie Grand, and of course, Lilly and Boris Becker (pictured above with Williams). But Grand, usually thought of more as LV than RL, only had eyes for shopping. “I was one of the first people here tonight, and I have already ID’ed this chair with the RL crest pillow as the next on my most wanted list,” she said, tucking her feet up into a rattan Montauk-esque jobby. And to go with it? “The navy jacket with the white piping—must, must have it. I am working on it.” Come to think of it, modify it for the court and it might be a good look for Venus, too.

Photo: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

Tennis Togs, Anyone? United Bamboo And Co. Suit Up

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Tennis is getting awfully glitzy these days. It’s long been the most understated of sports, from the hushed fans in the stands to the tennis whites on the players, but then last week at the French Open, Rafael Nadal flashed a $525,000 Richard Mille watch and Venus Williams showed off a whole lot more than that with her come-hither cancan dancer look. What’s next? A JumboTron scouting the crowd, looking for Federer fans who’ve painted their faces the colors of the Swiss flag? Maybe a loudspeaker blasting “Na Na Na Na, Hey, Hey, Hey” between points? For shame, tennis. Perhaps the pros should look to this weekend’s Gargyle x United Bamboo Smash! Tennis Challenge for style counsel. Taking place from noon to four this Saturday at the East River Courts in Manhattan, the mixed doubles tourney will show off the topspin skills of teams from the sponsors, Café Select and Complex, among others. This is just the latest jocking-up of the fashion set—witness the recent adiCUP and VMan‘s Memorial Day Weekend Male Model World Cup, which featured players even easier on the eyes than usual. This time out, we’re especially keen to see the togs on the United Bamboo team—not only because designers Thuy Pham and Miho Aoki are known for their classy-yet-subversive spin on prepster staples, but also because we’re praying that at least one of their players will be a cat.

Photo Illustration: United Bamboo; Digital Vision / Getty Images

Yea, Nay, or Eh? Venus Williams Can Cancan

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At the French Open this weekend, Venus Williams scored an easy win over her opponent, Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder. But victory on the field of fashion didn’t come quite so easily. Venus played in a lace-embellished bustier-style dress from her own line, EleVen. Maybe it was the Paris setting, but the dress smacks of the Moulin Rouge, and not, we’d have to say, in the best possible way. Short even for tennis togs (see left for proof) and disconcertingly at odds with Venus’ athletic figure, the whole outfit feels like a bit of a non to us. Venus told the L.A. Times that her look was “about illusion,” which is “a lot of my motif this year.” What do you think? Is this an illusion worth seeing?

Photo: Laurent Rebours / AP Photo