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Designer Files
Glimpse the Eclectic Inspirations Behind Litke
04-06-14

Meet Catherine Litke, the young designer whose line of American-made womenswear sits at the intersection of craftsy and cool. From embroidered fabrics to cape-back blouses, the LITKE look veers from retro-feminine to futuristic–it's Miu Miu with a hint of McQueen. Dive into our moodboard slideshow for a peek at her eclectic sources of inspiration, and read through the Q&A below to uncover the formula behind this former stylist's killer dress code.

Your sweaters are produced near Cape Cod at one of the oldest knitting factories in the U.S. What has it been like to work with them and become part of an American tradition? Working with American factories is really wonderful because you have so much control over each step of production. Collaborating with mills that have been around for almost a century is especially great because they know so much about their process, and there is so much pride taken in the quality of each product. I feel that it is so important to support garment and textile business in America, as factories are quickly disappearing here, and it's nice to know that I'm both supporting and learning from a company that has such a rich history.

Little-known fact: You source components for your garments from local quilting circles and have even enlisted your mom to do some knitting for you. Yet the Litke aesthetic reads as precise, polished and very fresh. Do you perceive a contradiction here, or is it these hands-on touches that lend a unique and luxurious quality to your designs? I definitely look toward the future in terms of my shapes, but I also have so much admiration for artisans who have been passing down their craft for generations, and I think that those two elements can live together in a really wonderful way. There is something so special about an object made completely by human hands without the use of machines that I don't think can ever be replaced by technology.

At some point, my style merged into this combination of a girl from Picnic at Hanging Rock and a French New Wave heroine.

This (spring 2014) collection is just the second you've produced, but we already see your designs in the press, as well as on celebrities and high-profile editors. Does it feel like the fashion community has embraced Litke? I'm so appreciative of all of the support that the brand has received early on, and I'm just working to keep that momentum as this year begins. What I love most about this industry is that it is always moving forward, and that's what I'm trying to do with the line this year, create growth in as natural a way as possible. There will definitely be some exciting surprises for 2014!

You've said that your friends describe your personal style as "sexy Amish." What's your philosophy or approach to what you wear? It's funny because this question comes up so much, and I'm not sure how it happened, but at some point my style merged into this very specific combination of a girl from Picnic at Hanging Rock and a French New Wave heroine. Since then, I've developed a daily uniform that I don't really stray from. It involves as many 1920s white cotton sundresses as I can get my hands on in the summer, and a large pile of turtlenecks, button-down shirts and vintage high-waisted jeans in the colder months, but it unfortunately doesn't get much more scientific than that.

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