It Takes Two
Elizabeth and Kathryn Fortunato, the duo behind Lizzie Fortunato Jewels, have a perfectly synergistic relationship, which one might expect from twin sisters. With Kathryn holding down the business side of things and Elizabeth (aka Lizzie) taking over the creative, the two have developed a brand that epitomizes the art of chic and playful jewelry. Theirs is a routinely press-worthy collection, easily found within the pages of Vogue, In Style, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle.
The Inside Source sat down and had a moment with the two before they jetted off from their downtown NYC home to Paris, where they’ll be showing their Fall 2013 collection.
Jenny Bahn: Tell us how you two created the Lizzie Fortunato line.
Lizzie Fortunato: I’ve always been interested in design (I made my prom dress in high school and was creating jewelry in college) and Kathryn is the entrepreneur who has… [MORE] monetized my passion and creativity! I’m lucky. She’s the salesgirl and the numbers person, and I just get to do what I love doing: assembling unexpected, different pieces.
Kathryn Fortunato: It was pretty unintentional — we are twin sisters!
JB: In the last year, you’ve branched off into bags. When did the idea move beyond just designing jewelry?
LF: We were doing a lot of seed beading in our jewelry and several of our retailers kept saying that it would really translate well to other accessories, and that got me thinking: If we can bead a necklace, why can’t we bead a small clutch, or a shoulder bag, or a huge tote bag? I design bags that I would want to carry. They’re striking like the jewelry, but really durable and practical, too.
JB: Do you have any go-to books for inspiration?
LF: A World of Necklaces [by Anne Leurguin].
JB: Do you have one particularly inspiring piece of vintage jewelry in your archives?
LF: I have a vintage belt from my grandmother that I wear all the time. I’m interested in replicating the hardware on it for one of our bags.
JB: What’s your favorite part about living in SoHo?
KF: Smile To Go, Reformation, Saturdays Surf, American Two Shot, and all our great local Crosby Street spots that make for neighborhood living.
LF: My fifth-floor walkup is like a treehouse sanctuary in the midst of the chaotic, bustling, and inspiring streets around me. I always find inspiration strolling through the streets just outside my front door.
JB: Least favorite part about living in Soho?
LF: Tourists… and double-wide strollers.
KF: Broome Street traffic, and almost everything on Broadway.
JB: You two make the Paris rounds often. What are your favorite spots there?
KF: Our studio space in the Marais is perfectly situated to great food and shopping: Tabio for socks, Rose’s Bakery, Derrière, Frenchie. Also, I am learning the 9th arrondissement and love it, especially Hotel Amour. Last season we spent a lot of dinners at The Sporting Project’s Fat Radish pop-up dinner series.
LF: We always stay and show from the Marais — steps away from Bob’s Kitchen, which has amazing salads and juices. I also love Ten Belles for breakfast and recently discovered Nanashi for Japanese/French fusion. Visiting Le Bon Marché is always inspiring and I never leave without visiting (but rarely purchasing at) L’Eclaireur.
JB: What’s your advice for picking out an accessory you’ll have for a lifetime?
LF: Buy pieces that you’re comfortable in. As with dressy dresses, you don’t want pieces that are uncomfortable or that you feel you need to be adjusting or pulling on throughout the night. Some of our biggest statement necklaces are the easiest and most comfortable to wear so pick something that you forget you even have on and then rock it all the time!
KF: Classic pieces. I love neutral colors, especially in bags. They tend to be more timeless.
JB: If you were stuck on an island and you were only allowed to pick one outfit to wear — impractical and/or fabulous — plus all the jewelry you could get your hands on, what would it be?
KF: Hmm, disappointing as it is, I’m a basic girl. Perfectly tailored ankle pants from Apiece Apart, Dieppa Restrepo loafers, a Phillip Lim blazer, and tons of jewelry might be my choice! But if I were dressing up on the island, well, I wouldn’t mind a Proenza dress!
LF: I love this question! Yet it’s so hard because I’ve kind of developed a uniform that I live in (short pants, loafers, boyfriend blazers in shades of navy, grey, black, and white — all accented with big jewelry), which is the opposite impractical or fabulous! I suppose if I could have anything it would be one of those amazing pink skirt/white shirt combos from Raf Simmon’s a few seasons ago at Jil Sander. I think this would be quite perfect to be stuck on an island in.
(Center photo courtesy of NY Mag. Text by Jenny Bahn)
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