Whitney Port on First Whitney Eve Runway Show, Nigel Barker, and Addiction to Eyedrops

Whitney Port lookbook

Photos courtesy of Whitney Port

A sneak peek at Whitney Port in her Whitney Eve lookbook

Whitney Port is no stranger to fashion shows. Having worked at People's Revolution and Diane von Furstenberg during her TV tenure, the reality star-turned-designer has seen exactly what goes into it.

So it's rather sweet that she's nervous about the Lincoln Center début of her line, Whitney Eve.

FashionEtc caught up with Port to chat about her upcoming New York Fashion Week show, working with Nigel Barker (who shot her lookbook), and her beauty must-haves.

I hear there's some big news?

Yes, I am showing my fall [2012] collection at Lincoln Center! We're doing it February 15 at 9 a.m.

This isn't your first time showing, however?

It's not. I've done a couple [shows]. I did one at Bryant Park and then I did a presentation. But this is my very first runway show.

With all your experience working on fashion shows in PR, are you nervous?

I was actually just talking to my mother because I was getting so overwhelmed with it. I feel pretty lucky that I have People's Revolution to help with this. But I'm going to try to put my spin on this any way I can. Right now I'm going to focus on getting the collection as lean and mean as possible. That's my main focus.

How did you become involved with Very.com?

I got involved through People's Revolution. Kelly [Cutrone] was working with them out in London and she asked me if I was selling my clothes out there. I wasn't at the time and I'm always looking to broaden my horizons and distribution. I met with the Very team, and I loved their vibe. We decided we'd be a good pair. And it's just a really good partnership to begin with.

How has your line grown since you first started? Any pearls of wisdom you've learned?

When I was first designing I was kind of looking at it as an art project. I was running up and down the streets of New York, finding awesome fabrics and not really thinking about the business plan and the demographics. That wasn't going to work. Working with women like Diane von Furstenberg and Kelly, I learned that you have to know who your girl is and who you're speaking to; have a plan. It's not just the design behind it but the vibe and inspiration.

What is your vibe and inspiration now?

I think it mixes my Los Angeles aesthetic and New York aesthetic. It has the easygoing and comfort of LA mixed with the funky streety edge of New York. The most exciting part of my line is my custom prints. They're more difficult to get done but they're so much fun.

What are the prints based off of?

Last season, my fall season, was inspired by this trip I took to Africa, and it was a mix of tribal patterns. It's all based on travel and trips I take.

What's the hardest thing for young designers to deal with?

I think the hardest thing is to raise the capital and maintain the capital to keep the business operating. I can design a line but I don't have the business background to know what my overhead is and what it should be. I think the most difficult part is finding a trusted partner to work with.

What was it like working with Nigel Barker? Did you smize? (No, seriously.)

[The shoot] was set up by Kelly as well. I had met him previously when I was a guest on America's Next Top Model, and we had discussed doing some kind of project together. He is such a talented photographer and helped me look my best. He didn't ask me to smize! I don't think he did …

You've had an advantage to unknown designers with your exposure and connections but also a disadvantage—have you found you need to try harder to prove yourself?

I think that I came from this generation of reality kids who took advantage of the situation and made a bad name for all of us so it's been a struggle to make a name for myself and prove I really wanted to be a designer. I feel slowly and surely I'm starting to prove myself.

Do you miss doing TV?

No, not really. I'm definitely interested in working in that platform again. But I don't miss the invasiveness of the cameras. It's been really nice to go to my office and be productive and not have someone need something from you.

Would you ever do another show?

I don't know. It would depend on who's doing it and the light they're conveying it in.

Other than Very.com, what are some of the dream stores you'd like to sell your line in?

I would say, thinking about my customer, the Bloomingdale's and the Nordstroms and the Barneys of the world. I would obviously love to be in Opening Ceremony—it's my favorite store.

Who are some of your favorite designers these days?

I love Karen Walker and Jen Kao. I love Phillip Lim and I've always been a huge fan of Alex Wang.

Which other celebrity would you most like to see in your designs?

Alexa Chung. Girls like her are my goal: the cool streety Brits.

What are your current winter staples?

Well being in Los Angeles, it's the kind of city that's so season-less. I got this very heavy Burberrry leather jacket that I have worn to death, and I can layer it and wear it in cold weather. When I'm in New York, I go this store Aritzia and they have really great slacks and sweaters.

Any trends you outright avoid?

Things with skulls. A lot of rhinestones. Like, jeggings—no!

What are your must-have products?

I would say moisturizer. Some sort of eye cream. I use this Fresh cream that you can use on anything. And I also use a lot of eyedrops. I don't even really need it but every morning and every afternoon I put some in. I think I'm reliant on them.

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