Through the CFDA’s Fashion Incubator program, ten promising young designers are given a low-rent work space and mentorship, among other benefits. One of which, thanks to a partnership with W Hotels since September of last year, is an inspiration trip to a W Hotel location of their choice–anywhere in the world. We got a few lucky Incubator designers to chronicle their adventures for us travel diary-style, to find out just what exactly happens on an inspiration trip. We already heard all about Daniel Vosovic’s awesome trip to Istanbul.
Next up: lingerie designer Arielle Shapiro of Ari Dein!
How did you decide which W Hotel location to go to?
My favorite Russian ballet costume designer’s work lured me from a love of tutu corsetry into an obsession with intimate apparel. I also have Russian roots. At first, the trip seemed like an opportunity to visit a country I probably wouldn’t soon make vacation plans for on my own, but I fell in love with St. Petersburg (and Moscow) and can’t wait to return.
Had you ever gone on an “Inspiration Trip” before? If so, where?
Usually I go inside my mind! Living in Italy for a year was like one extended inspiration trip, and I’m excited to go to Asia for the first time this fall. Whether I’m in NY or traveling, foreign cities are a major inspiration to me.
Who was on the trip with you?
I brought my best friend of 16 years, Adam, as well as Jake Rosenberg of The Coveteur.
How much planning went into the trip in terms of where you’d go, what you’d see?
I bought ballet tickets for the Mariinsky Theatre (Anna Karenina) before we left, but we basically highlighted museums and sites in the guidebook and then upon arrival, mapped out the details with the amazing hotel staff and W Insiders.
Did everything go according to plan?
I think so! One day I made everyone ditch the “plans” to walk the city hoping to have an adventure. We hardly discovered anything and exhausted ourselves trying, so I definitely recommend when visiting St. Petersburg stick to recommendations!
Did it feel more like vacation or work?
Something in between. I was definitely focusing on how the city would be reflected in my upcoming collection so everything we experienced was very fine art and culture driven. But that’s also what I enjoy doing, so my whole life is a nice balance of work and pleasure. It was definitely not a ‘sit on the beach and work on your tan’ kind of trip to begin with.
Highlight of the trip?
The Hermitage. It’s single handedly the most exquisite building I’ve ever been inside, and getting up close and personal with my favorite Rousseaus and Matisses was awe-inspiring.
Best meal of the trip?
We dropped serious rubles at Monsarda, which is one of the most elegant restaurants in the city. I tried tongue and we ordered a ton of seafood while overlooking the dome of St. Isaac’s cathedral lit up at night.
Where did you shop? Any recommendations?
When you are in St. Petersburg you absolutely have to get lost in Babochka for luxury fashion and Wild Orchid for intimates! In Moscow, the lingerie department at Tsum took my breath away.
What’s the coolest thing you brought back?
I snagged a fur hat right before we left the city, and gave out matriochkas with a secret stash of vodka hiding inside to everyone at CFDA and W Hotels who made this trip possible.
Since this was an inspiration trip, was it successful? What inspired you there and do you know yet how it might manifest in your next collection?
The trip was hugely inspirational. Even the W Hotel interiors themselves, modeled after a Fabergé egg, are inspiring a lace I’m using. St. Petersburg isn’t outwardly opulent and even though the architecture is influenced by France and Italy, it’s not very well kept up. You have to go inside the buildings to discover the most extraordinary hidden treasures. The ceilings are vaulted, gilded, intricately carved into oblivion. The walls are hand painted and adorned with priceless Russian portraiture. The Fabergé egg is a perfect metaphor for the city, and lends itself very well to a lingerie collection where the most important details are sometimes hidden underneath.
Click through for more photos!