Kimberly Whitman is a multi-hyphenate: author, lifestyle and entertaining expert, and editor-at-large of Southern Living magazine. Now, she’s adding designer to her résumé.
Whitman just launched a limited-edition capsule collection with Antonio Melani, an exclusive label at Dillard’s. The collection is the second of three influencer collaborations slated to launch at Dillard’s in 2021. Each partnership taps into a key market–in this case, Texas–and drives brand awareness to attract new Dillard’s shoppers.
For her designing debut, Whitman pulled inspiration from her signature tablescapes, adorned with fresh flowers and delicate china. The resulting collection, which includes dresses in sizes 0 to 16, shoes, belts, scarves, and other accessories, is anchored by feminine patterns and summery colors. Prices range from $19 for a raffia headband to $189 for a patterned maxidress. Each piece was designed with a hostess in mind–they’re elegant, yet easy to throw on just before guests arrive. The collection also includes several pieces for girls, which were designed with input from Whitman’s 7-year-old daughter, Millie.
We caught up with Whitman to learn more about her design process and to get a peek at her limited-edition collection.
Your brand is all about hosting and creating beautiful spaces to enjoy with family and friends. How did those passions influence this collection?
One of my favorite china patterns, Tobacco Leaf, was a big inspiration. The floral print on the wrap dress, scarf, and headband is based on some of the floral accents found in that china. I also thought a lot about what I gravitate to when getting dressed for a gathering.
You were very hands-on when creating this collection. What was the design process like?
It was amazing to work with the Antonio Melani design team. There were a lot of packages of fabric samples and dress samples shipped back and forth during the pandemic, as well as many Zoom design meetings. I started out by creating a digital inspiration board with lifestyle images from our home: tablescapes, art that inspired me, color combinations I loved. I shared what I like in a waistline, hemline, shoulder, and so forth. Then, we focused on the details–which trims to use, like grosgrain ribbon, where the zippers should be, and how to get the wood bead tassels exactly right. My sisters, my mother, and my mother-in-law would come over and try on the samples. We would dig in and always try to find ways to improve, but the Antonio Melani team was so good that they usually just nailed it.
On that note, I know your daughter Millie played a role in creating the children’s pieces. What was it like to work with her?
Oh, it was so much fun to do with her. The original proposal was that she’d select a style from the collection and we would interpret that into a children’s look, but she wasn’t having that. She wanted a skirt and a shirt. She wanted them to be very, very soft. She wanted to be able to tie a knot at the waist, and she wanted the pieces to have words on them. Seven-year-old designers are very particular, and apparently, they know exactly what they want! The design team sent her a package with tons of options. She narrowed it down to four shirts and two skirts with the help of her friend
Jemma who was over for a playdate when the design decisions were due. It was really great to see the two of them discuss the options and land on these. The phrases on the shirt are things that she really does often say.
How do you hope these pieces will make women feel when they wear them?
Joyful, confident, and feminine. It’s a cheerful collection!