– Our Editor-in-Chief Lisa Vanderpump sits down with the illustrious Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, the new Creative Director for Judith Leiber –
It’s such a pleasure when I get to feature strong, brilliant women in Beverly Hills Lifestyle Magazine and Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger epitomizes both of those things. Dee is a powerhouse of style who exhibits both admirable family values and a powerful dedication to philanthropy. Dee & Tommy Hilfiger live their lives with kindness, laughter and altruism and, for me, those are essential qualities I look for in both a friend and a source of inspiration.
On a personal level, I have such admiration for the Hilfiger family. Their love of life, passion for design, and commitment to their family are evident every time I see them. I have enjoyed many a splendid evening socializing and laughing with them both. However, I bonded with Dee most over her compassion and desire to make the world a better place. Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger is not only an extremely talented designer and businesswoman, but a truly good person.
I sat down with Dee to find out a bit more about her journey and experience in the fashion industry.
The world of fashion is changing every day… how do you feel it is changing for the better?
I feel the fashion world has changed a lot in the past 10 years, mostly due to technology. For the informed consumer, fashion has become so much more accessible and affordable. There are so many more options and shopping platforms than ever before. Most of my shopping I do online now. I can’t remember the last time I went to a mall to shop!
What catapulted you to become a designer and fashion expert?
My husband Tommy, was the one that first encouraged me to start my own handbag line, along with Mindy Grossman, who at the time was head of Home Shopping Network.
Can you think of a moment that has defined your idea of success?
I think when I was in my 20s, my idea of success was defined by how much money I could make and how many friends I could have. Now, in my 50s, success to me means more about having gratitude, which I believe is the key to happiness and having true success. I have come to know so many people that have made a lot of money, but are absolutely miserable. Having a family has also re-defined my meaning of success. The love and happiness of each of our children and the love and respect of my husband is something I am incredibly grateful for and proud of… that to me is success.
How do you feel about creating a new era for Judith Leiber?
I feel a great deal of responsibility bringing a heritage brand like Judith Leiber, that has existed for more than 50 years, into a new era of fashion. Fashion brands must always evolve to stay relevant with the times. As an example, when Mrs. Leiber founded her company in 1963, cell phones did not exist. I’ve been trying to develop more clutches that will fit iPhones. We also need to always stay current on new technologies with materials and manufacturing, as well as stay on top of and anticipate evolving trends.
What is the common thread between all your brands and anything you do?
I am a diehard perfectionist, so I think anything I do, I give it my very best effort. Why bother doing anything if you are not going to do it right? To me, perfection comes down to a question of details. Small details require a lot more thought and always make something that could be average that much better.
What inspires you the most?
Nature is probably the thing I find the most inspiring of all. I also find a lot of inspiration in art, architecture, and traveling to different destinations.
Who are your icons? Muses?
My fashion icons tend to be women with a more carefree look. I love Lauren Hutton, who I think always looked beautiful, but in a very natural and effortless way.
What’s the most important part of creating a brand?
The most important part of creating a brand is having a unique identity and a product that stands apart.
Being a businesswoman isn’t always easy in a world that is evolving but can often be dominated by males, what do you do to keep your platform?
Being a woman in a world of businessmen is not something I give a lot of thought or energy to. Most people will be open to opinions as long as they are informed and intelligently articulated. I would hope in 2017 I don’t need to worry about being judged because I am a woman…. in any case, I don’t! “The proof is in the pudding” as they say, and it will always boil down to results. I am much more focused on performance than other people’s misguided perceptions!
What is the most original part of your story?
I suppose my own journey is the most original part of the story. Like every individual, my journey has had several ups and downs but, through it all, I have always tried to be my own biggest cheerleader and maintain a strong belief in myself and my abilities. When I was younger I found it much more difficult to advocate for myself. Now that I am older, it is a whole lot easier!
Photography – Tatijana Shoan