Why You All Look Like Blair Waldorf

The designer proceeded to create what she thought was missing from the market for women like herself: feminine pieces that were elegant but playful; retro silhouettes in modern prints; simple in the front (to be adorned with belt, scarf or purse), but decorative in the back. A kind of Little Red Riding Hood meets Audrey Hepburn—or what she calls the Lorick Lady.

“It’s about bringing elegance back to our generation of women,” Ms. Lorick said. “When we started, everything was ripped T-shirts and messy hair, and it looked like everyone just rolled out of bed. It’s also a sign of respect for people around you. You know, be on time, sit up straight and be present. It’s about bringing back manners.” Ms. Lorick’s busy interns upload manner updates onto her Twitter page. A recent example: “A Lorick Lady always serves food when serving alcohol to offset its effects.”

The money she received from Gossip Girl in part funded the production of her first collection, and in her second season, Lorick was picked up by Barneys.

The phone was ringing with more news. Dana Lorenz of Fenton/Fallon jewelry would supply accessories for the presentation, which led Ms. Lorick to squeal with pleasure. “Yay!

Today, she was also casting models. First walked in Lisa, a sylph-like blonde in a wifebeater, jeans, heels and a ponytail. Ms. Lorick sent her into the bathroom to change. Lisa returned in a long black Lorick skirt and top, both in an organic bamboo knit, with a pink ribbon at the waist, and stomped across the floor with her protruding hip bones leading the way.

 

MS. LORICK PINCHED  and adjusted the fabric and instructed one of her interns to snap a photo opposite a wall stacked with the designer’s collection of DVDs (Roman Holiday, Harold and Maude, Planet Earth) and books (Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh) and near a table covered in torn pieces of blue fabric. 

When Lisa left, her model card went in the “no” pile. “She was too pointy or something,” said Ms Lorick. “I try to get girls with personalities. It’s just kind of a feeling. And I like girls who still have their eyebrows.”

The models coming by for the casting were all asked if they would be O.K. with undressing in front of people. Ms. Lorick’s collection is inspired by three artists in three media—Francesco Clemente’s watercolors, Edgar Degas’ pastels and Jonathan Green’s acrylics—and her presentation will be a series of “portrait sittings.” (Ms. Lorick is fond of the presentation as performance art: At her last show, models were posed near elaborate tiered cakes and proceeded to devour them with their fingers.)

The next model was named Bibissara: an Asian beauty from Kazakhstan with a curtain of thick dark hair down to her hips. Ms. Lorick sent her away with a teal hoop skirt in silk and a matching blouse.

“How old are you?” Ms. Lorick asked when she returned. “Almost 17,” Bibissara whispered. “Oh, wow, almost 17,” Ms. Lorick said, without a whiff of sarcasm. “Do you like New York? Will you live here forever and ever?” There was another inaudible utterance.

“I love her,” said Ms. Lorick after Bibissara left. Next came Milena from Poland, in a long backless gown; Euphrasie from France, in a dress that was blue-bodiced and cream with organic yellow splotches on the skirt; and Laine from Latvia, in a sculpted grayish-blue canvas coat. All but poor Milena made it into the “yes” pile.

The new collection is a test for Ms. Lorick. For fall ’09, she showed an austere collection in darker tones. Women’s Wear Daily said it “verged on stale with gaudy fabrics and uninspired designs.” Meanwhile, others have been offended by just the opposite: the ultra-femininity of it all.

“People look at my designs and say it’s too frilly or too girly, but I think these are strengths!” said Ms. Lorick. “When I was younger, I thought I had to be masculine to have the same opportunities as the men, but now there is no reason for us to hide our femininity.”