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Behind The Scenes

The Fortunatos Make Collaboration Magic

Lizzie and Kathryn Fortunato have quite a partnership going: Lizzie is a design force to be reckoned with, and Kathryn boasts incredible business savvy. Though the twins push each other plenty, they’ve found that one of the best ways to evolve their own work—to try out new techniques or incorporate untested materials—is to partner up with like-minded clothing designers who are looking to round out their collections with awe-inspiring accessories. Here, a look at the diverse aesthetics the twins have attacked with their runway collaborations, what they’ve learned along the way, and where they want to go next. VPL LFJ x VPL spring 2011 Kathryn: “Four years ago, when we were just starting out, I asked Lizzie, ‘Who would you want to collaborate with right now?’ And she said, ‘There’s this clothing line called VPL—the designer’s named Victoria Bartlett, and she’s so amazing about collaborating with jewelry designers.’ She had worked with Alyssa Norton, Brian Crumley—all these people that we really liked. And a season later, sure enough, Victoria approached Lizzie to collaborate with her.” LFJ x VPL spring 2009 Lizzie: “We worked with her first for spring 2009. There was all of this origami. We found a girl on Craigslist who made origami birds—that was her thing.” Necklaces from LFJ x VPL spring 2009 and spring 2010 Kathryn: “Victoria was amazing in terms of giving Lizzie incredible freedom. She was like, ‘The sky’s the limit. You can do whatever you want.’ The inspiration would be broad—like underwater, flying, the human body.” Suno LFJ x Suno fall 2010 Kathryn: “The same sort of thing happened with Suno that happened with VPL. Lizzie said, ‘Have you heard of this line Suno?’ I hadn’t—it was really early. We didn’t know anything about them, but she just really liked the aesthetic—they appreciate textiles, and so do we. And it was so weird because in January of 2010, four weeks before fashion week, we got an email from Max Osterweis, who is the founder, saying, ‘Hey, I’m Max from Suno. I was in Paris, eating dinner with a friend of mine, and she was wearing an incredible necklace that you made. So I looked you up, and I want to talk to you guys about doing some jewelry with me.’ Whoever that girl in Paris was, bless her heart!” LFJ x Suno spring 2011 Kathryn: “He and Erin Beatty, the designer, came over to our old live-work space on East Broadway. We used their fabrics, and our jewelry was incorporated into something like seven of the 25 looks. It was really exciting, but it was only a small sign of what was to come. The next season 24 of the 25 looks had our pieces, and there were about ten necklaces on each girl. We started producing the jewelry as it’s own collection.” LFJ x Suno fall 2011 Lizzie: “For fall 2011, they wanted a more polished look. It was the first time I had ever done so much metal!”Kathryn: “The collection was inspired by a Diana Vreeland, older-lady character who had been around the world and had this Upper East Side mentality. It was incredibly flattering that Erin came to Lizzie when she could have gone to a number of people who excel in metalwork—Lizzie had never, ever done anything like that. This forced Lizzie to go out of her comfort zone, and, even though she hated it at the time, it was such a blessing in the stars because we probably wouldn’t have evolved our own collection as we did otherwise.” Metal cuffs from the LFJ spring 2012 collection Wish ListLizzie: “In terms of other people we want to work with, there’s something I like about collaborating with lines that are just getting going. We just started working with the retail arm of Jenni Kayne. We love her aesthetic—it’s sleek and amazingly crisp. It would be cool to do clutches with beaded, graphic shapes.”Kathryn: “This is definitely a dream one, but obviously Rodarte would be incredible. Lizzie has incredible respect for them.”Lizzie: “It would be fun to go crazy and dive into a whole new market—to do something for Matthew Williamson for London Fashion Week. You know, to open doors that are really out of our minds.” Speaking of collabs: Don’t miss out on the edition the twins made just for Of a Kind. Get on our email list for a reminder.
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Meet Lizzie Fortunato Jewels

Most designers worry about the sales of their wares covering things like rent and groceries, but when Lizzie (left) and her twin Kathryn (right) got started, they were primarily concerned about paying for spring break. As undergrads at Duke University, the two Wilmington, Delaware, natives sold their attention-grabbing jewelry at on-campus trunk shows, drawing in swarms of girls looking for something stand-out to wear for a special occasion. “If a trunk show started at 6p, there would already be a line at 5:30, and everything would be gone by 6:15. They would be madness—like, sorority girls gone wild,” Kathryn recalls. Lizzie handled the design end of things, and Kathryn fielded the business and marketing side. But when they moved to Manhattan after graduation, they pursued the kind of careers that come with a regular paycheck and health insurance—Lizzie headed into fashion PR and Kathryn into a job at Goldman Sachs. Some of their college pals infiltrated the New York fashion scene, though, and commissioned Lizzie to create hulking necklaces or layered bracelets for photo shoots or runway shows. Soon enough, the interest basically demanded that the girls launch a full-blown collection. Their fanbase grew exponentially from there—with clothing designers like Suno and VPL wanting to collaborate, too—and the Lizzie Fortunato Jewels loyalists remain as hardcore as ever. “It’s amazing: The girls who used to buy three pieces back then are still the ones who get a piece every season,” Kathryn explains. “Some of them have collections better than anything we have of our own work.” Scoop up the (2nd!) piece the two designed for Of a Kind on Tuesday. Join our email list to be the first to hear about the release.
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Lizzie Fortunato Gets her Blog On

Lizzie’s blogging pose. Since Lizzie Fortunato launched her blog A Fortune Found this summer, it’s become a killer outlet for her—a passion project, even. Storytelling is a big part of her namesake line of complex, reference-melding accessories, and, as her sister and business partner Kathryn puts it, “Expanding her narrative has been good for her.” It also helps that Lizzie has tremendous taste and follows sites that we are outraged to only be learning about now. She talks through her five favorites below. Another stellar new Lizzie creation? The thread-wrapped gold bracelet she made for Of a Kind. There are just 30, so look now! Decade: “Bernadette Pascua, who illustrated our past two lookbooks, is so talented, and she couldn’t be more modest and adorable. Her blog’s so inspiring because she does a lot more than post her own creations. But, her fonts are amazing, and so are her watercolors. Kathryn bought me one for Christmas, and it’s hanging in my room.” Solid Frog: “I’m not addicted to any fashion blogs, per se. I’m more interested in interiors and travel for inspiration, and this one posts all interiors.” The Brickhouse: “For our fall and spring collections, I was looking at a lot of mid-century California structures that are really simple but high-design. This blog comes from California near Palm Springs. “ The Epicures: “This is a couple based in Brooklyn, and their photography is extraordinary. They go to amazing places and tell all these stories.” Broken English Blog: “We found this store in Santa Monica, and it has a nice blog. I can’t look at a ton of other costume jewelry because it’s just too overwhelming and nerve-racking, so I appreciate the fine jewelry here.”
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