Katie Ermilio Continues a Design Dynasty
It was the women of Philadelphia who helped me discover my passion for making clothes. I began my career while still in college, dressing clients in my father’s Haverford menswear store. He would put my samples out in the shop, and soon enough his customers began inquiring about my designs. From there things just fell into place, and before I knew it, I was spending all of my time outside of my busy school life creating one-of-a-kind clothing.
My father is a third-generation bespoke tailor, and very much like his design career, mine has been founded upon creating custom specialty pieces for a private clientele. In each collection, I find a consistent source of inspiration in designing for the women who wear my clothes. With every line, I imagine where the upcoming months will take her—in her career, in her travels, in her friendships—and construct a wardrobe around her wants and needs.
My parents grew up on the Main Line, met in Suburban Square, and raised my sister and me in Philadelphia. The city’s style is such a part of the fabric of my legacy in design. My great-grandfather founded Ermilio Clothiers in 1897, and a picture of the Walnut Street storefront sits on the mantel of my studio today, serving as a constant reminder of my roots as a designer. There is a decidedly classic sensibility in the way Philadelphia women dress. Balancing life between the city and the suburbs, these ladies have seemingly perfected the art of marrying urban sleekness with the versatility of suburban life. Every Philadelphia woman I know embodies this sense of ‘classically modern’ dressing in her own way. And it is her ability to make the inherently timeless seem refreshing and new that makes each woman’s style so special. My Winter 2011 collection has a decidedly romantic feel. Camouflaging the technicality beneath an airy guise of draping could not help but influence the sharp lines, the pleats, and the shirring found in its styles. The line has elements of softness and sportiness, casual notes, and relaxed glamour; I have come to think of it as an intersection of all these aspects, as well as a continued exploration of how soft draped and tailored lines can work together within one look.
Since the holidays in Philadelphia are often synonymous with running around, versatile ensembles that take you from day to night are a must. Equal parts comfort and holiday spirit is always my approach to dressing for the season. This holiday I will be pairing a classic cream sheath with nude Swiss Dot tights and cherry nail polish, or my tuxedo jacket with slim, ankle-length trousers and a red lip; to me it’s the fun accents and details that add just the right amount of festivity. In New York there may be a few more opportunities to turn holiday shopping into an experience, but there is a quaintness to browsing in Rittenhouse Square and Old City that is not always so simple to find in Manhattan. I always have the best time when I make a day of it and do my gift-getting downtown. My family loves to bake for the holidays. I can’t wait to stock up on chocolates and pastry supplies so my sister and I can start our annual marathon. My grandmother’s spice cookies and bread pudding are always on our must-make list. And it wouldn’t be Christmas without using my mom’s heirloom antique cookie cutters to make shortbread and sugar cookies for family and friends. Every year my family and I go to Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas lights and have holiday brunch at the Radnor Hunt Club. My mom always takes my sister and me to Reading Terminal Market for a girls’ day out, and not a single holiday has gone by during which my dad has not cut down the family Christmas tree. Traditions are what make the holidays so special in my home.” Adresse, 1706 Locust St., 215- 985-3161