Rising to the Top: Interview with Celebrity Stylist and Handbag Designer Donna Katz

April 7, 2007 • Magazine

Rising to the Top: Interview with Celebrity Stylist and Handbag Designer Donna Katz

Rising to the Top: Interview with Celebrity Stylist and Handbag Designer Donna Katz

Sat, 2007-04-07 06:00

Natayle Henry

I consider myself to be pretty poised and emphatic, as I’ve had no problems rubbing elbows with the best of them – Ashlee Simpson, Jermaine Dupri, Diddy. But for some reason my interview with Donna Katz, celebrity stylist and former VP and Creative director of Linea Pelle, made me a little nervous. I’m not sure what it was; maybe the fear of the unknown. Would she be pompous or condescending? Mean or abrasive? I saw her appearance on the Janice Dickinson show and let me tell you, she is definitely a force to be reckoned with. But, my fears were put to rest upon speaking to this tenacious designer and celebrity stylist. From Justin Timberlake to Lindsey Lohan, this fashionista has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and isn’t stopping there. She’s going nowhere but up and anyone or anything getting in her way isn’t an option. Keep your eyes and ears open as this lady of fashion is becoming a household name.

SCS: How was Linea Pelle “born”?
DK: Well, actually my parents started it twenty years ago. Initially they started with, I’m pretty sure it was clothing, and it was called something else. Then my mom decided that she wanted to get into accessories and she and my dad started Linea Pelle about twenty years ago.

SCS: When did you come on board?
DK: Six years ago now.

SCS: How did you find success in a market that is so saturated with great handbags and belt companies? What sets Linea Pelle apart from the rest?
DK: Well, I think it’s because Linea Pelle is such a unique company. We are really known for our leather, our colors, our style, our hardware, and because of those elements, I really believe that it gave us a niche, if you will, into the fashion business.

SCS: When I hear of celebrity designers of any sort, I think of them living an elaborate Hollywood lifestyle. Would you say that’s accurate or not so much?
DK: I think most definitely. In a celebrity driven society, people see Paris Hilton or someone of that caliber and they want to dress like them. They want the designer bag she’s carrying. They want the accessories that Lauren Conrad is wearing on ‘The Hills.’ People love that, at least that’s what I’ve found.

SCS: What was a day in the life of Donna Katz when at Linea Pelle?
DK: I was the Vice President and Creative Director, which basically consisted of all the product features, campaigns, working with the celebrities, and working hand in hand with our publicist. I also designed the entire men’s line and ran that portion of the company as well.

SCS: What would you say your “it” bag for the season would be?
DK: Definitely our ‘Dylan’ bag.

SCS: Who was the first celebrity to carry one of your bags?
DK: Before we even launched our handbag line I was really good friends with Lauren and Heidi from ‘The Hills’ and I actually gave it to them first. And also Vanessa Minnillo. They were the first three to carry a bag.

SCS: I understand that you’ve gone back to being a stylist and you are doing that full time, what made you return?
DK: I really felt that I got as much as I could working at Linea Pelle and I really just wanted to do more. I always loved dressing people up and I love clothing and I love making everyone look really good (we both chuckle). I just felt that I could do more in that sense.

SCS: How did your stylist career begin?
DK: I have loved creating looks for people for as long as I can remember! It began with all my friends wanting me to dress them because they loved my own personal style; and I thought, “wait, this is something I am truly passionate about, that I love doing, and I know that I can turn this into a successful career!” I was really blessed that during my time at Linea Pelle I was able to develop relationships with a lot of celebrities that appreciated my eye. They loved the way I could mix and match their accessories and create a variety of ensembles for both day and night. For me, creating a look for a client is an artistic outlet.

SCS: What advice would you give to someone that would want to follow in your footsteps?
DK: Follow in my footsteps…I worked very hard to be where I am. I think that the first thing would be to have a passion for fashion. That would be the most important thing. And to know the business, what things are in, what things are out.

SCS: What are your favorite looks of the season?
DK: I’m actually really excited that wide pants have come back. I still love my straight jeans, but I just kind of got sick of it. I just bought some high-waist trousers which I adore. They look amazing with a tucked in shirt and thin belt. Empire dresses are really hot right now. I love those.

SCS: Who are your favorite designers?
DK: Oh wow…I like Christian Loubitan, that’s like my favorite shoe designer ever. Alexander McQueen, Derek Lamb, Missoni, Zak Posen, Prada…I love a lot of European designers mostly because I think they grasp the fashion concept much better than American designers do. (I agreed) They are more creative with their lines and cuts.

SCS: What trend are you ready to see go away?
DK: Oh my, umm…I really can’t stand it when people wear dresses over jeans. I think it’s the ugliest look ever! Seriously, I don’t get it. It’s sloppy and silly. I don’t like the baby doll tops. Anything plaid. And I’m really not into that futuristic look that Dolce is doing right now. I don’t really get that look either. I wouldn’t mind seeing it go away.

SCS: Tell me about a day in your life as a stylist.
DK: Talking to my clients and going over their closets a lot of time to see what pieces they have, what pieces they don’t have and what they need. I work with them to discover what kind of looks they want to achieve. Everyone’s different, every client is different. I’m not the one to style all my clients in the same exact look or thing. I believe everyone is a unique individual and that’s important to me. So basically I adhere to my clients needs. Of course, I will put my opinion is as well.

SCS: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
DK: Retired! (we both laugh) There are so many things that I want to do. I’m not really sure. I know that I will definitely be doing something in fashion. I would love to open a store one day; that’s a dream of mine. Maybe start a clothing line, maybe a huge fashion editor…There are so many things to consider…and I’m still so young.

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