One-on-One with Monica Noh: a designer's role in helping women feel great.
Q: How do your designs empower women?
I'm so inspired by the female form: how we're all differently shaped and unique and want to wear clothing that makes us feel beautiful. As designers, there's so much we can do to make sure our customers feel great about their bodies and personal style, and I feel strongly that it's my job to help support that.
For each style, I and my pattern maker really devote countless hours to ensure that each dress is as flattering as possible. They may not work for everyone, but we really strive to be mindful of our customers' varying body types as we design.
The Easy T-Shirt Dress
- Inspired by the 20's, with a dropped waist and asymmetrical skirt. You've never worn a more comfortable dress.
- Navy 100% Silk Crepe de Chine body with sheer black silk georgette sleeves.
- Keyhole closure at back neck for an easy exit.
Two-Way Zip Dress
- The front zipper can be adjusted to create 9 different looks, including a moto-inspired draped lapel, a cowl neck, and a modern swing dress.
- The most versatile dress in the collection, this dress flatters most all body types.
- Side seam pockets
- Silk belt with thread loops
- Cut in 100% 2-ply silk - breathable, lustrous, and structured enough so you feel covered.
- The ultimate LBD for easy chic. Throw on some stilettos to dress it up, pair it with a leather jacket to dress it down.
- Asymmetrical ties for tying in front or back, this style is meant to be adjusted however you want to wear it.
- Side seam pockets
- Cut in a drapey Italian viscose with a nice weight to it - we've got you covered.
- Adjustable tunnel waistband for a flowy or cinched look - this style isn't limited by seasonality.
- Side seam pockets
- Soft shoulder drape in front and back for a subtle, feminine look
- Cut in 100% Silk Crepe de Chine - lightweight, and the perfect way to go from day to night.
The Knit Dress
- A truly elongating silhouette - a flattering peplum and slightly longer overall length create a long, lean line when you're feeling like you need a vertical lift.
- We've added kangaroo pockets to add a playful touch to an otherwise understated, chic silhouette.
- Side slits to add a peek-a-boo effect
- Cut in a slinky rayon matte jersey - perfect for traveling and holds you in in all the right places.
Yesterday, Carte Blanche held an Open House for anyone that wanted to see the dresses in person and try it on. It was amazing to see how differently everyone wore the dresses. Thank you to all that came and it was great meeting you!
Posted by: Monica Noh
A tradition I enjoyed from my days designing at larger companies was going out for field trips on Friday to get inspired and see what was out in the market.
I loved taking trips to our usual stops- Barney's, Jeffrey's, etc., but now that I'm designing for my own brand, I get to choose places that might have nothing to do with fashion, but really set the aesthetic bar for me personally. And so we went to Mociun.
One-on-On with Monica Noh: How she's approaching the fashion industry.
Q: What is your business model? How is it unique from other business models within the industry?
A: Carte Blanche uses a crowd-funding model, which means that I design a collection and users pre-buy the styles they want. This means their credit cards aren't charged until the dress they've backed hits its manufacturing minimum. This way, we don't hold any inventory and are able to deliver our dresses without the markups. This allows our customer to purchase a dress that would retail at $700 for $179.
Traditionally, fashion brands work in silos, relying on trend-forecasting and sales from previous years to flesh out their collections rather than creating a constant feedback loop where the consumer has the power to decide which styles hit the factory floor. With crowd-sourcing, the burden of sell-throughs and inventory risk are eliminated, and we’re able to deliver high-quality goods at their true cost.
One-on-One with Monica Noh: Behind the Brand.
Q: Where did the inspiration for your brand name Carte Blanche come from?
A: Carte Blanche is a really important idea for me, and it really underlies every major decision or pivot I’ve made in my life. It’s the idea of having the freedom to make your own rules: to re-examine or question the way things are done and change what isn’t working. I love fashion, but there’s so much in the process of designing and manufacturing clothing that we can improve.
Q: What are all the jobs/internships/volunteering you've had that has led you up to this point in your career?
A: I've definitely had an odd trajectory for a fashion designer. I thought there was something wrong with me when the majority of my classmates at Parsons were applying for summer internships at high-end luxury brands, and I just didn't share that enthusiasm. I was more obsessed with getting to Barcelona to see Antonio Gaudi’s architecture, or studying French in Paris. That sounds insanely pretentious, I know, but I think that’s the curious and romantic side of me that had a big influence on my choices and probably still does.
After I graduated from Parsons, I spent a few years designing knitwear at a large fashion company and eventually got burnt out on the 15-hours days that were spent largely on Excel and e-mail and not very creative at all. I think every fashion designer goes through this reality check and either makes the choice to accept it, leave the industry, or strike out on their own.
After that I really felt the need to remove myself from that world for a while and regain inspiration in a completely different environment. I signed up for WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) in France, and spent the following year and a half on a farm learning to speak French, make bread, cheese, wine, grow fruits and vegetables. It was so new and exciting and I learned so much. Even now when things get tough, I remind myself of that time and I think 'Hey, you survived a year without your friends, a cell phone, or hot running water. You can do this."
Coming back to New York, I knew I wanted to return to fashion but in a very different capacity. I spent a year or so freelancing here and there, and grew really inspired by what was happening in the tech industry so I started following lots of tech news and blogs. I felt strongly about finding a way to make fashion and technology meet in a way that felt authentic and innovative to me, and that’s when I started working on Carte Blanche.
Posted by: Julia Lee Yu
I photographed Monica wearing a CB dress on each day of the week. Then, decided to make this video just for you! We had a lot of laughs taking the photos but doesn't she look great?
Posted by: Julia Lee Yu
1. Be thankful for everything.
2. Don't make enemies.
3. Always put yourself in the other person's shoes.
4. You'll never regret being kind or giving.
5. Stop watching The Real Housewives.
Cheers to all of the amazing women out there who love us no matter what!
We've been featured in SHEfinds.com's fashion face-off as one of the top 9 fashion projects across all crowd-funding platforms. The most voted project will receive financial backing.
If you love what we do, please vote for Carte Blanche in the comments section (bottom of the page).
Thank you and TGIF!
THE NEW CHIEF FASHION CRITIC OF THE NY TIMES GIVES A KEYNOTE AT THE COPENHAGEN FASHION SUMMIT AND IT'S AWESOME.
OUR FAVORITE QUOTES:
"Everything fashion – and admittedly, I am talking about the established fashion industry, the big brands — does is predicated toward teaching consumers that they need the new and last season is the old, and this goes for high fashion and the high street, where I have even heard some friends advise others that if they have worn a garment to death, they should just get rid of it, and not even bother trying to clean it. The cleaning costs more than the piece of clothing.
Today fashion is disposable – and it is supposed to be. And it seems to me that should be unsustainable. Because what the situation we are in now — more and more and faster and faster — sounds like, more than anything, is a runaway train. And you know what happens to runaway trains: they crash."
AND THEN THIS GEM:
"And here is what I have learned: we need a new phrase. Once upon a time my grandmother saved and saved to buy a nice leather handbag, and once she had it, she had it for decades. Her fur coat? Same story. Her cashmere sweaters – you know the little cardigans with beading on the edges that were so popular in the 50s – same. She knew how to wash her garments—by hand usually — and how to hang them, and how store them, be it for the next season, or the next generation. What she had – what she built – was a Sustainable Wardrobe.
And that, it seems to me, is a concept that makes an enormous amount of sense. That is a term I can get behind. And that is, I say to all of you, what each and every one of us, as consumers, should be doing. It is about emphasising the value proposition inherent in each item you buy and consciously selecting it – maybe because it has an ethically conscious aspect you appreciate, and you bothered to research the supply chain like my friend Julie Gilhart does, or maybe because you know the amount of handwork that has gone into it and you are amazed by the artistry or even know the artisans, like Peter Copping does, or maybe because you the know that that cashmere came from happy prancing goats running free on the steppes of Mongolia – whatever. The point is that the decision about what constitutes value is yours, and you need make it. And that implies, I don’t think you can really get around this, some level of investment over, and in, time.
And that changes how you think of your clothes. It changes what you demand from them, and from the people who make them, and from yourself."
CB's Day-to-Night Essentials for Working on Weekends
CB's Day-to-Night Essentials for Working on Weekends:
Lookbooks and tech gadgets are always on-hand. You never know who you'll meet throughout the day or what you will need to jot down and research.
I don't know about you, but I prefer running around in flats. Leopard print is surprisingly versatile and makes me feel more bold on days when I need a little boost. However, I always keep a pair of classic, black pumps to take me out at night.
Coconut water is a great alternative to boost hydration over sports drinks (the fake coloring really irks me!). It's also the ultimate hangover remedy, facilitates digestion, reduces blood pressure and is rich in nutrients. For a woman on-the-go, it's important to take care of yourself and if that means taking a few swigs of a delicious Caribbean-inspired drink, we'll take it!
A little bling never hurt a girl! But don't forget Coco Chanel's tip: "When accessorizing, always take off the last thing you put on." Be simple but significant. Our go-to shops are Catbird, Vrai & Oro and Mociun.
Great beauty products are a necessity to rejuvenate your skin after a long week. My favorite beauty tip from Bobbi Brown: "My derm told me that studies show people who eat Vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables have fewer wrinkles- so load up on things like oranges, grapefruits, cauliflower, and broccoli. These foods are high in antioxidants to help fight the aging effects of sun, pollution, and time. She also said omega-3 fatty acids (think salmon and walnuts) will improve skin's elasticity. And don't forget to drink a lot of water; it's the numner-on way I keep my skin looking its best."
And, now we're ready for Monday!