When talking about her designs, Julio Mollo says:
I believe that one should be excited to get dressed every morning, and feel like they are off to a party when they may only be running some errands. Inspired by shapes, love, the 1950’s & the City of New York, my clothes are youthful but sophisticated, urban but classy, quirky, witty and above all fun. When viewing my clothing, jewelry and fine artwork, I hope that without realizing it, you begin to smile, and I hope that what I do makes you feel happy, young and fun.
This young Massachusetts native, now Brooklyn resident, with a larger than life personality (and big, curly hair to match) has accomplished so much in her 21 years of life – she currently attends Pratt University for Fashion Design, she’s designed for American singer-songwriter and musician Katy Perry; and is currently interning for Betsey Johnson in NYC.
What role have optimism and hard work played in your success? I really do believe that when you work hard enough for something, good things will happen. Hard work does not go unnoticed, even when you’re just doing work for yourself. It pays off. I have always made sure that I have enjoyed what I do and I can honestly say that I am in love with my work. not many people can say that. I work really hard and it is exhausting, but I love what I do.
How would you define success? Success is when you are truly happy with what you have accomplished.
What is your favorite fashion memory? Two come to mind. The first being when the camera panned to katy perry singing “like a virgin” at the 2008 MTV VMAs wearing my banana romper. When she started to peel the banana I lost it. I was so excited, especially because I didn’t even know 100% if she was going to be wearing it. The second would be when I won the house of diehl style war in which I had 45 minutes to make a dress out of photographs. When they called my name I was so happy, the entire night was a rush, and I can really say it was one of the best nights of my life so far.
What attracted you to this industry? I’m not really sure. I was always the most outlandishly dressed in the small town I am from, and fashion was always a way of expressing my personality, no matter how many fights I had with my family in the morning on my way out the door in high school over what I was wearing. Fashion is wearable art, I think I just thought it was such a fun way to express myself, and if I could make my own clothes to wear, all the better!
What has been your experience within the fashion business? Since I am still in school, my experience has obviously not been typical. I was put into this industry by myself trying to work this whole thing out- I literally had to start a business overnight out of demand. Once katy blogged about me it was game time and I was focused. besides the whole katy perry scene though I have had some cool fashion things going on. I had a short internship at heatherette basically working behind the scenes with the business people, working on the computer. I recently got an internship with Betsey Johnson, in the design department, that’s fun; also I’ve been featured on MTV’s late great Total Request Live as a prom dress designer during prom week in the spring of 2008. I am still in school however, “preparing to enter the industry.”
You’ve done pieces for Katy Perry? How did this come about? I wanted to dress her, she is really my ideal customer. She is rock and roll, she is old-school glamour, she has a sense of humor, she has fun, she is gorgeous. She is all of the above. So, I just went for it, I had that whole, I have nothing to lose attitude. I saw this Katy Perry character and I was like, hmm, we have the same style, she is so cute..I want to dress this girl. So, I sent an email to her manager (katy’s booking info was on her myspace) on a whim one night after closing swirls & scoops, not really expecting anything to happen, and an hour later, something does. I had sent the manager my website and some pics and explained how we were so similar, he had forwarded it to Katy’s stylist, Johnny Wujek, who emailed me back saying he loved my stuff, needed my phone number, wants to talk to me about projects asap. I’m freaking out. The next day Katy Emails me saying she loves my stuff and picks out about 5 garments (and a sketch to make up for her) from my website that she would love to wear. Two days later I wake up to an email on my way to work. They want my clothes for a magazine shoot in LA in 2 days. I rush home early from babysitting, put together a 9lb box of fabulous and overnight it to LA moments before UPS closes. The next day I see pictures of her wearing my stuff on stage during the Vans Warped Tour in CA. the next day it happened again. A few days later, Johnny emails me saying that we should be talking VMA performance costume, and the Today Show, we should? I almost died. saw that she was coming to MA for a concert at 6 flags and asked her if she wanted to meet up. She looked through my portfolio, went through the sketches I did for her and she basically ordered 5 outfits to wear for some potentially huge upcoming shoots and performances. That was when she ordered the watermelon romper to wear on the today show, the banana for the VMAs, the Lips romper that she wore on tour, and the strawberry dress she wore on Leno. After she blogged about me atwww.katyperryblog.com thousands of people flooded my website and the rest is history.
Do you think New York is still the place to be to foster a career in fashion? New York is where it’s at! It was my only option for myself when I was applying to school, I thought, if I come to New York I can make it happen, and I did! I love it here, there is so much of everything happening, it’s the place to be for most businesses, especially fashion.
Are there any personal qualities you developed early in life to help you with your craft today? I was always dressing up and posing while mom made quilts and crafty items at the sewing machine. Her mom and grandmother would make all of her clothes when she was growing up. Though mom had no real interest in fashion design, she passed the crafty gene right down to me. During high school I started putting together different outfits, always wearing different (esp. for grafton) things- and that is when I really began sewing and drawing, and sewing what I drew.
Which do you think is better – developing the talent or studying the craft? Tricky. I think that by studying the craft you develop, or improve on, your talent. You can never stop learning. You can always grow.
Have you studied fashion design or did it come naturally to you? I am about to enter my senior year as a fashion design major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I always tried to make my own clothes and play around, but once I learned how to properly produce clothing, everything started to look a lot better.
Was there ever another career path for you? I think at one point I had considered broadcasting, but that may have just been because my dad wanted me to work on sportscenter. Sorry, dad, it was always fashion. I do wish I was a rock star- if only I had musical talent.
You currently work with Betsey Johnson. What’s that experience like? It’s wild to be around her. I still get really excited when I hear her voice or see her around the office. She is such an inspiration – she’s who I aspire to be, so being in her domain is just really cool. I am just an intern there right now, someday I want to have a company very similar to hers.
How would you describe Julie Mollo designs? My clothes are youthful but sophisticated, urban but classy, quirky, witty, a little wild and above all fun. My clothing definitely has a sense of humor. My clothes are very reminiscent of myself.
Is your personal style similar? Very. I design things I would wear. Most times that I am out I am in some form of a party dress, I like to pretend I’m off for a night out on the town, when I might only be doing my laundry. You feel fun when you look fun.
What designers do you wear a lot of? Betsey Johnson is my absolute favorite. I wear a lot of Betsey, and obviously a lot of Julie Mollo. My basics though are mostly from The Gap and American Apparel.
What are some major trends you see happening in fashion today? Revival of the decades, especially the 80’s (yes!). Poor is rich, looking homeless is cool, basically what I see people wearing all around art school and Brooklyn popping up at H&M a few months later.
What are some trends you see fading? Looking too put together and planned. No one has time for that anymore, just have fun.
What inspires your designs? New York, the 1950’s, 1980’s, fruit (haha), fun, girly shapes – hearts, bows, etc. and any imagery of love. (hence the heart and arrow I sign all of my work with)
Who’s your target audience? Party girls, prom queens, rock stars & pop stars.
Any advice for young designers today? Get yourself out there! Once you’ve got something to show, show it – definitely make a website, because honestly, if you’re not on the internet these days, who are you? Don’t be afraid to fail, you have nothing to lose when you are starting out.
What are key sewing or production techniques every aspiring designers should know? I think that it is important to understand how to make clothes even if you may not be the one producing them. Know what you’re doing on every level so that you do not get taken advantage of when you are starting out. If you do not have the knowledge of something, get it. ask your friends that are in
Final thought. I hope that what I do makes you feel happy, young & fun!
Do not be surprised if this young designer becomes a household name. To get more Julie, you can find her online atwww.juliemollo.com or visit her myspace at www.myspace.com/fashionosaurus or follow her tweets atwww.twitter.com/fashionosaurus. Check out her facebook page & become a fan as well (page name: Julie Mollo). Click here to see all images from the Julie Mollo & MMHighlights photo shoot.