The Skinny on Skinny Denim: Elissa Dunlop on Jordache Krystal Flare Jeans, New York

This just in from my old friend Lynn Dunlop. Her daughter, Elissa, is a fast-rising star in the New York fashion world, specializing in vintage swimsuit designs that are sold in SF, New York and Japan. Like her mom and me, she’s a native of San Francisco, a FIDM graduate, and has worked in Manhattann since 2000. Below is an interview with her from psychoPEDIA

March 15, 2007
Denim Road-Test: Jordache
Designer Elissa Dunlop on the Little White Horse

As predicted, the skinny and expensive denim trends dominating the last few seasons are washed-up. And, at least for the ladies, high-waists atop wide legs are the next big thing. (This month, French Vogue devotes a full 10-page editorial on high-waisted flares à la Jane Birkin circa 1970.)

Thus, when faced with a pair of flared Jordache jeans – complete with their signature white horse embroidered on the coin pocket – we figured it was about time we gave them a shot. With a newly enlisted (and newlywed) Elizabeth Hurley as current spokesperson, Jordache has been steadily revamping its look, while keeping its price-point low, in hopes of reinstating its ‘80s heyday.

So, we handed the pair of blues over to Elissa Dunlop, a stylish downtown New Yorker and designer of the one-of-a-kind swimwear line of the same name. With Dunlop so well-versed in vintage clothes – her eye-pleasing eponymous collection is made entirely from vintage fabrics (not to mention she’s exceptionally small-waisted) – we figured if anyone could make them work, she could. In her own words:

So how’d it go?
Good! My sister’s here with me now; she’s been taking photos.

What were your first impressions?
I’ve been wearing jeans that are pretty understated, so I thought, “I don’t know if I like this…? I like bell-bottoms but I don’t usually go for glam-girl. So I went more retro with them. They feel really good. The wash is nice – clean.

How’s the fit?
Good. But it could be a little tighter at the waist. They’re low, but not super-low. I would like it if they were higher.

Do you like the embroidered horse on the coin pocket?
Yeah, it’s cute.

How would you style them?
I’d keep it simple, clean. I’m wearing them right now with a T-shirt tucked in. In the summer I’d wear them with a tank top and cute heeled sandals.

How would you describe your style?
I want to say girly, but not really girly. More toned-down. I love vintage.

What are your favorite places to vintage shop in the city?
I like going to Edith Machinist. There are a couple places on Rivington right near my new apartment [on Suffolk Street].

Do you remember Jordache from when you were a kid? Did you ever wear them back then?

Oh, totally. I don’t think I ever wore them though. I was more of a Guess jeans girl. It’s funny because the jeans I wear now are similar to Guess jeans, just without the triangle and question mark, and the zippers at the ankles. It’s a nice shape – a versatile cut.

If you could have any style right now, what would you choose?
I would really like a pair of high-waisted but straight-at-the-bottom jeans. Simple, so the jeans aren’t the main focus.

Do you think the skinny jean thing is over?
It’s really saturated now, so there’s going to be a next thing. I don’t think it’s necessarily over though; it’s just time for something different.

What inspires your style?
I love the ‘60s. I like Art Deco design as far as patterns go. Right now, I’m really fascinated with kaleidoscope patters. I’d love to design my own fabrics. I like looking at films; I’m waiting for all of these Bugsby Berkely [musicals] that I just ordered from Netflix.

How did you get your start designing swimwear?
I used to work for a surfwear company and I was going on vacation. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find any swimsuits for my body type. I had access to great Lycra fabric, so I drew a sketch and had a friend make a pattern and then fitted the suit to my body. I love vintage shopping, and it was always fabrics with amazing prints and colors that usually caught my attention, but they’d be these pieces you just couldn’t wear. I thought it was such a waste. So it evolved.

Do you see yourself expanding?
I do want to expand the line. Right now I have 3 top shapes and 3 bottoms; different combinations, and I use vintage fabrics that are always changing. I’d like to do more shapes – maybe a one-piece or a high-waisted bottom. I also wouldn’t mind doing dresses or things that work with swimwear. Things you could wear to the beach or with jeans.

Any advice for prospective swimwear shoppers?
It’s important to know your body type – to try a bunch on and know what shape looks best on your body.

How many is a bunch? Five? Ten?
I don’t know. I guess it depends on how picky you are?

Are you picky?
Yeah [laughs] I guess…

Would your sister say you’re picky?
Yes [laughs] definitely.

~ Interview by Alisa Gould-Simon

Get Yours:
Jordache Krystal Flare Jeans, $69.

For more on Elissa Dunlop, check out, or stop by Charlotte Ronson to snap up some of her swimwear.

[Via psychoPEDIA.]

One Response to The Skinny on Skinny Denim: Elissa Dunlop on Jordache Krystal Flare Jeans, New York

  1. vintage art says:

    Have you tried Lands’ End swimsuits? They have fits for all types of figures, they are mostly made in Canada, some come with ILGWU union labels.

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