Tabitha Simmons knows how to bring the cool factor.
Whether she’s styling for the runway or designing her burgeoning footwear collection, Simmons’ name has become synonymous with all that’s feminine, unexpected and effortlessly chic.
“Tabitha Simmons is a style authority,” said Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, SVP of fashion office and store presentation. “All her years of styling for top magazines and consulting with designers has given her an invaluable perspective on what women want and what’s missing in the market.”
While Simmons has long been a fashion fixture, first as a model and then as a contributor at Vogue, 2012 marked a convergence of all her worlds. The shoe brand she launched in 2009 is doing better than ever, and she’s one of the most in-demand fashion show stylists, often collaborating with designers to create runway shoes. Simmons’ talent also earned her the CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design earlier this year, followed by an opportunity to further develop the business with $100,000 as a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund runner-up.
“It was a real fashion high,” Simmons said of her CFDA Swarovski Award win.
As a designer, Simmons has successfully built a loyal following in the ultra-competitive luxury market, both for her label’s uncompromising quality and its impeccable style. This year, the collection expanded its global retail reach to more than 90 doors, adding Saks Fifth Avenue, Modaoperandi.com and Kirna Zabête in New York to a retail roster that already included such heavyweights as Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Browns, Harrods and Selfridges.
Simmons has looked to social media and innovative digital projects to set her brand apart. A dance video lookbook, shot by her husband, photographer Craig McDean, debuted at Barneys this year. It was part of an effort to bring the shoes to life online and via social channels.
“It’s important to put something out that represents you,” Simmons said, adding that the next video is set to be unveiled for resort. “It’s a lot of extra work [to manage social media yourself], but it’s worth it. When you see something, only you can decide if you like it or not.”
Her insider status has only been boosted by her thriving styling career. She has worked with the likes of Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Marchesa and Tory Burch.
“Tabitha always gives us a new perspective on our collection and helps take it to the next level,” Burch said of Simmons’ talent as a stylist. “She starts with a classic sensibility and layers in unexpected elements in a unique way.”
Simmons also styled the very exclusive Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda couture debut in Sicily this summer, when select clients were invited to a 36-hour event that included the runway unveiling. “It was an incredible experience working in the most beautiful setting imaginable,” she recalled. “It was so special for them to open something like this up for their customers, not just editors or buyers.”
In addition, she brought her talents to the runway through footwear collaborations with Creatures of the Wind, Honor and Peter Som this year. Som, for one, said he looks forward to partnering with Simmons again for fall, after the duo co-created what was one of the most buzz-worthy spring ’13 shoe collections.
“I have no doubt Tabitha’s amazing styling background has influenced her shoes. She creates a story and a fantasy out of everything,” Som said. “When I saw the shoes for the first time, I knew we had done something pretty special.”
As for the future of Simmons’ growing brand, the only thing reining her in is the number of hours in the day. While she continues to entertain talk of someday opening a store, she remains committed to expanding her business through wholesale first.
“I want to make sure we have a solid foundation before building a house,” Simmons said. “I do want to add some lower price points moving forward, but I am focused on getting my core business really solid.”