Friday, June 25, 2010

Sorry to make you wait...

So last night, I attended Washington Women and Wine, "Celebrate the Tastes of Southern Italy", courtesy of my friend Bill Sanders, CEO of Crush + Press - online retail distributor of fine olive oils and wines.

I have to say, I was unsure about what to expect from last night's event at Potenza, but it was really something special. I loved it! Natalia Ravida and Principessa Marina Colonna presented their fine olive oils for tasting with wonderful meats and cheeses from Southern Italy. I was in heaven! (oh, and she's a real princess, btw)

They were both amazing entrepreneurs and very self-possessed women. I look forward to joining the ranks very soon. After sampling a series of Colonna citrus olive oils, I informed Marina (as she prefers to be called) of my move to Italy in just a few short months (wait it's more like a few short weeks! eek!). With no hesitation she handed me her number and told me to call her when I travel to Rome! She explained to me that Italy is linked through so many long-standing relationships, and she offered her guidance through what appears to be a very delicate weave of important contacts. Well... when in Rome!

I have to work tomorrow (yeah, Saturday, I know!) and although I'm loving sharing with you what's going on these days, I'm really going to have to turn in.

But before I go... some pics from my entrance portfolio for design school. These are from my fashion art sketches - not your typical renderings, but I think they're clear and you can get the idea.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Gratitude and Acknowledgement

When I wake up in the morning and I’m thinking about beginning my day – I have to stop and meditate on the goodness of my God. He has brought me through so much and is forming me into the woman I only dreamed of becoming. He’s placing me in places I feel like I don’t deserve and giving me opportunities to speak with people of influence, sharing my talents and my faith with them.

There’s nothing that quells my anxiety about the future more than remembering all that God has done already. My fears all of sudden become irrational and my lack of faith, insulting to a God who has not only demonstrated His ability but His willingness to attend to every detail of my life, perfectly orchestrated for His purpose and His will.

Pretty amazing, hunh?

Good Morning everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sold My First in 2010

So, 2010 has been an amazing year! This year, in preparation for a mission trip to South Africa, I coordinated my first benefit dinner and silent auction at B.Smith's Restaurant in Washington DC to raise money for Baby and Child Haven an organization that provides safe homes for HIV/AIDS orphans in Johannesburg.

I had a lot of great things to auction at the fundraiser. My mom is a fabulous potter, and she generously donated several pieces from her studio, Enthusiasm Pottery. She discovered her love and passion for pottery as she was recovering from breast cancer in 2008. Since then, she's sold thousands of dollars worth of pottery. She is my inspiration! If you're wondering where I get it from - look no further!

I also had a good friend, Bill Sanders, who owns Crush and Press, donate a private wine tasting and an olive oil tasting. I think the wine tasting was one of the most popular items at the auction!

At the encouragement of a few close friends (you know who you are), I prepared a piece to auction as well. This is the first dress I have ever sold! It's so hard to see them go - but I'm getting used to it ;)

This was my first dress I sold - a cocktail length sheath with an asymmetrical ruffle detail. It was a pleasure to sell it for a good cause.

For my seamstress friends, go easy on me. I am self-taught, so it's definitely trial and error, but I can't wait to see what I can do with a formal fashion education. It's going to be dynamite! Here are a few more pics of the creation of the dress:

Constructing the bodice...

Pressing the seams...

A perfect invisible zipper! This is the inside of the dress...

My ruffle detail - I learned it by watching an episode of Project Runway. I thought... "I think I can do that" and then there it was! I did it! It's my new favorite embellishment - thank goodness it's in season! They are going to be on everything!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ciao a tutti! That means: Hey Everybody!

My Italian is getting better. My fluency in Spanish is making it much easier to learn, but it’s not that easy. I’m so glad I understand most of what’s spoken to me, but learning to respond correctly is another thing all together!

I’ve been using Berlitz, which is very similar to Rosetta Stone (but not nearly as expensive - and this girl's on a budget!). I’m also planning to go to the Italian Meet Up group here in Washington DC to practice what I’ve learned so far. I’m a little nervous about that part, but I really want to be sure I’ve got some of this down before I show up in Florence in August.

I saw this in the window of Paper Source in Georgetown. It felt like a sign - so I snapped a pic!

Pray for my ability to speak the language and to be diligent with my self guided lessons. I just started my 3rd audio CD – which means I’ve completed 11 lessons already in about 5 weeks. I do them while I’m in the car, and I think they’re really working!

Anyone have any great ideas for helping the language lessons stick? Any native Italians who want to help me practice in Washington DC?

Ciao! (Ciao is for hello and goodbye ;) )

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some things I've made...

When I applied to design school, I had to send a portfolio of my fashion artwork and constructed garments. Just thought I'd share a few pieces I made...

I actually wear both of these a lot. This beige one is my go-to work dress for meetings and special work events. I wore it just last week at the Banca Civica event where the Princess of Spain was in attendance. I'll have to tell you more about it on another post.

This black and tan dress I made from some fabric I purchased on a trip to Hawaii. I wore this to a friend's wedding last year. I also let a friend wear it for an event. She's on the board of directors for a South African dance company. She said the dress was well received at the opening of their dance season.

... this one is to be completed (TBC).

I made this one without the assistance of a pattern, and I was very pleased with the outcome. After making a few sheath dresses (think Michelle Obama's style), I think I got a better handle on the fit through the waist and hips while experimenting with the details around the neckline.

I'll finish this and wear it to a going away party, so you can see the final product. I'll post more pics of the things I've made soon.

I often get the question: what kind of clothes do you make?

I'd love to hear from you. What do you think? How would you describe the clothes?

My sister got married!

My younger sister, Lea, just got married to an awesome guy, Chris, just about a week ago. They are an awesome pair with an awesome name, The Porches. Like the car, without the 's'

I can't quite remember how this came about, but I wanted to design something special for her since she was getting hitched and all. Maybe a dress for her bridal shower - something short and sweet. When she saw it, she wanted to wear it where everyone could see - at the reception!

The dress actually began as a knee-length frock. Here are the before and after pictures.

...but at the request of my sister it turned into a gown - my first time making a gown. Thank God for her! It turned out fabulous, and it pushed me to do something new. I still love the original design, and I will probably do it again in a different color. The gown, however, was perfect for the occasion.

This is the first Nina Harrell reception gown, and I must say – she looked stunning!

She looked so beautiful!

I know this is the teaser... but I have to wait for the pics to come back from the wedding photographer so you can actually see her in the dress. For now, I borrowed a pic from a new friend, Ali, who attended the wedding.

I promise I'll get better shots of the dress in a later post! Promise!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Here I Come!

Yep! I'll be there!

Just Friday, I was chosen to volunteer at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami, July 15 - 19, 2010. This is a highly competitive process – hundreds of applications went out for these coveted roles, and I got in!
Image credit

For those of you who do not know, Mercedes Benz Fashion Weeks are of the premier fashion events in the world – none are rivaled in size or importance. Guaranteed, whether you are a fashion magazine junkie like me or a casual browser of the latest issue of Vogue – you will see coverage from these events.

Photos from and taken by Michael Buckner of Getty Images North America.

And yours truly will be there for everyday of the event dressing models, working the front end of the event, preparing press kits, and hopefully scoring some great take home goodies – extra samples of the seasons hottest beauty buys… sigh*

Oh, and there are no tickets, just guest lists – either you make the list or you don’t. I have been dreaming of being somewhere like this, and this year that dream is a reality. I can’t wait to keep you posted on my personal account of MBFW Swim Miami! Stay tuned!

I'm moving to Italy!

Yes, you heard right! I'm moving to Florence, Italy!

For those of you who don’t know, I was accepted into Fashion Institute of Technology’s International Fashion Design program. It’s a two-year program: one year in Florence, Italy and one year in New York City. This is seriously the opportunity of a lifetime. I’ve wanted to do this for over 10 years now, and I’m finally doing it.

Some people have asked me “why now?” All I can say is it’s now or never. This is one of the only things in life that I know I will truly regret not going after. So instead of taking my dream to the grave with me, I thought I’d turn this baby loose and see what she can do! J

Loving that song by Drake by the way! “I’m doing me, I’m doing me, I’m living life right now and this is what I’m gonna to do til its over, til its over, but its far from over!” Sorry if I botched the lyrics, but that's what I heard when I took a listen ;)

I can’t wait to share with you all of the amazing things God is doing in my life – the lessons I’m learning, the risks I’m taking and the way I’m going to be able to make a difference in the world. This life has so much purpose!

* * * * *

Separate note - to my blog kings and queens - please call me out if I'm not giving appropriate recognition for other people's content. I know about this a little, but it's different when you're doing it.

What’s in a name?

Well… everything. I have had a hard time accepting myself for who I am, where I am and what I am. That may sound strange to some people, but I don’t think I’m alone.

Using my God-given name on my own fashion work has been a struggle for me. It invites criticism to my person, where another name can take a beating while I remain reasonably in tact.
When I first started, I didn’t want any part of my name in my fashion label. It was too daunting to think that everyone would know that I did it. But eventually, I got over my initial fear as I became more confident in my craft to actually use my own first name. Nina, after all, is a very familiar fashion name – Nina Garcia, Fashion Director/Editor for Marie Claire Magazine. Nina Ricci, Fashion Designer, and Nina Shoes, that shoe designer who’s sold at every department store I’ve ever been in. Apparently, she has a "design your own shoe" option online that's killer! Nina is a great fashion name – we cover the industry. What I didn’t feel comfortable with was my surname because that’s what lets you know that it’s actually me. I’m getting there… which is why this blog is about Nina Harrell in the making… This journey is about more than becoming a fashion designer; this is about becoming a woman who completely accepts herself and what she has to offer to the world.

Link mentions to FABSUGAR, NY Magazine Fashion, and Nina