February is a month of firsts for designer Whitney Port, the former reality star of The Hills and The City. She watched her dreams come true on Wednesday when she debuted at New York Fashion Week and sent the autumn/winter 2012 collection for her Whitney Eve line down the runway at the Lincoln Centre. It is the first time Port has appeared on the schedule at New York Fashion Week since she launched the line in 2008. Backstage, I asked her how it felt to be in the NYFW club and among such great company. “Really weird and surreal,” she said. “But really, really cool.”
“Yeah, definitely scary!” Port confirmed with a nervous giggle and a quick flick of her frankly amazing blonde mane. But the nerves aren’t going anywhere yet, she explained. “I feel that the really scary part is now when you’ve done it and you’re waiting to hear what everybody has to say, but I’m just trying to tell myself that it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks!”
Whitney needn’t fret – the collection was a fun, varied and extremely wearable addition to what is becoming a rather successful brand. Inspired by an antique kaleidoscope she found in her grandmother’s attic, Port showed graphic prints, tailored trousers and the occasional oh-so-very-now peplum, as well as little touches of sequin bling for the young city girl that she clearly aims for.
Soon, she’ll have the chance to pick up a few new fans from this side of the pond as she undertakes another February first - a six-week stay in London filming her new role as a judge on Britain And Ireland’s Next Top Model alongside Elle Macpherson, Julien Macdonald and Tyson Beckford.
“I’m coming out there the last week of February,” she told me. “I’m really excited! I love London but I’ve never really got the chance to actually be out there for an extended period of time, it’s exciting.”
Exciting, yes, but has she picked a judging strategy as yet – is she good cop or bad cop?
“I think that I see myself more as the nice, easy going, accepting kind of judge,” she said. “I don’t see myself being too hard on the people. I mean, I do have a side of being brutally honest but I don’t know that I’ll be able to actually be like that.”
Perhaps she’s been taking tips on brutal honesty from her famously direct mentor, fellow The Hills/The City alumni and America’s Next Top Model judge, Kelly Cutrone. Clearly the two are still close and work well together – Cutrone’s company People’s Revolution produced Whitney’s show, so one would assume it’s an important relationship.
“Very important,” Port confirmed. “I mean, Kelly has really nurtured me and taken care of me and shown me the way and she’s helped me get to where I am right now so I have an infinite amount of thanks for her.”
With that kind of support, her talent and the not-unhelpful celebrity profile behind her, the firsts will surely keep coming for Port as opportunity continues to knock. Watch this space.
by Nick Barron