Abigail Lorick

photography Tom Hines

Model turned designer takes over the runways

Inspired by a forsaken ladylike elegance, designer Abigail Lorick brings retro sensibility to the modern woman with her LORICK collection. A Floridian transplant, now living and working in Manhattan, Lorick’s first exposures to fashion came from her grandma and reading Vogue Magazine. By high school, she was a model, jetting off to shoots from Amelia Island with her mother as chaperone. After stints in Paris and Milan, Lorick followed up a Ford modeling contract with a surfing foray to Australia . By 2004, she’d retired from modeling and enrolled at FIT to study fashion design.

A year later, an internship at T.S. Dixin led to a lead design job at the short-lived collective. While traveling to India for seasonal production, she became enamored with the traditional local crafts and textiles. The frequent back-and-forth developed a close working relationship with the factory’s production manager, Verma Singh. So when Singh left that job for a new factory, he suggested that Lorick launch her own line.

With that not-so-small push, her first sample collection took form. The direction was simply to express an ideal life-style, or as she says, “accommodate her in different aspects of her life.” Essentially, Lorick launched LORICK with passion, at 25 years-old, sans budget in September, 2007. Her big break came quickly, when the producers of a soon-to-launch TV show called Gossip Girl were in search of a fashion designer on which to base a fictional collection, Waldorf Designs.

On the show, the collection is designed by Blair’s mother, Eleanor Waldorf. But in reality, it’s Abigail Lorick’s collection which injects a mature yet preppy sensibility. (Eric Damen designs for the character of Jenny Humphrey.) Lorick works closely with the art and prop departments to ensure Eleanor’s studio is stocked with the appropriate bolts of fabric, plenty of scoop necklines and backless dresses. Lorick sees Blair Waldorf and her bevy of friends as similar to her own client, saying, “She’s put together and has embraced it for herself.”

With Gossip Girl on board and word-of-mouth building, a strong showing at Gary’s Loft for S/S ’09 took LORICK’s cred-ibility to the next level. Drawing on her friends and collaborators— including set designer Peter Klein, Art Director Roanne Adams, prop stylist Ana Monroe and lead stylists Meredith Markworth-Pollack & Gina Correll—LORCK put together a dynamic and fun presentation, geared toward avoiding the typically awkward and boring showcases of models standing around. Instead, she build mini-sets to express the collection’s theme of elegance in the post-finan-cial collapse. Even a staff infection in her right foot, leaving her in one high heel and one cast, couldn’t hold Lorick back.

photography Tom Hines

For S/S ’10, Lorick drew on three different artists across different mediums: Francesco Clemente’s watercolors, Edgar Degas’ pastels, and Jonathan Greene’s acrylics. Injecting tasteful pastels and feminine prints, Lorick rebuffed critics who saw earlier collections as period pieces. Rather, the dem-ure hemlines and sophistication conjure a time of etiquette and restraint.

While still fun and flirty, social responsibility rather than personal indulgence enables LORICK’s power-meets-femin-inity dynamic. While still at FIT, Lorick was invited to put on a fashion show for students at Vanderbilt University. Taking orders for catwalk-direct purchases, she was helping to raise funds for a health clinic in Lwala, Kenya. It’s a page that might have come from Liz Claibrone’s playbook of the late 1970s. LORICK is also slated to take part in Cut Drop, a soon to launch retailer which offers a single designer for one week and sends part of the proceeds to a charity chosen by each designer. Her new dog, Bill, came courtesy of an ASPCA adap-tion. Also admirable, LORICK S/S ’10 incorporated certified organic fabrics into 75 percent of the collection.

In person, Abigail Lorick certainly looks the part of a former-model, graceful and strikingly beautiful from any angle. But it’s the wise-beyond-her-years demeanor mixed with a penchant for dressing up which truly separates her from the crowd. Surely, there’s no shortage of beautiful looking people with fashion aspirations. Thankfully, Abigail Lorick maintains the wherewithal and substance to suggest her beauty isn’t the whole story.

– Michael Cohen