In 2010 Georgia Lazzaro was on the cover of the second Melbourne print issue of Broadsheet. The shot was of her coming out of the Bedford Avenue L train station in Brooklyn, fresh-faced and ready to take on the challenges ahead of her. She had just arrived in the Big Apple after winning the prestigious Australians in New York Fashion Foundation scholarship. She was 25, straight out of uni (Fashion Design at RMIT) and had just started an internship at celebrated American fashion brands Narciso Rodriguez and Calvin Klein.
Four years later Lazzaro may not have strayed very far, but she’s certainly covered ground in her career. She’s quickly moved up the ranks from intern and is now one of a small team of designers in the celebrity/special projects arm of the ready-to-wear division of Calvin Klein Collection, working directly under the guidance of creative director Francisco Costa.
We meet at Williamsburg hot-spot Cafe Colette, just over the road from where Lazzaro, now 29, lives. It’s the day after the iconic Met Gala (a high profile annual fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute). An important date on the New York social calendar, and one of the biggest nights in fashion, the Gala brings together on the red carpet some of the biggest celebrities, models and designers.
Lazzaro has spent the last couple of months working on garments for celebrities (actor Anne Hathaway, stylist Camilla Nickerson, blogger/stylist Hanneli Mustaparta and supermodel Christy Turlington), and had a hectic week of fittings in the lead-up, working right through the evening prior to the event.
She has come straight from work in the garment district near Midtown. She sits at the bar drinking a pomegranate ice tea, wearing a long-sleeve knitted roll-neck, loose-fitting jeans with rips in the knee and Converse. But despite her unassumingly casual attire for someone who works in high fashion, she looks elegant and comfortable. She’s a natural beauty with doll-like pale skin and piercing blue eyes.
“I’ve had a lot of responsibility from the get-go [at Calvin Klein] because they only had one designer for evening and he hadn’t really had many interns, so when I came in I got thrown in the deep end,” explains Lazzaro of her growth over the last few years. “My responsibilities were always significant and they’ve grown as the team has.”
At work, 50 per cent of Lazzaro’s time is dedicated to runway, with four season collections a year. Fall and spring are the major ones, and then there is pre fall and resort. The other half of her time is spent on dressing celebrities and red carpet or anything custom for editorial projects.
Unlike the other red-carpet events, such as the Academy Awards and Emmys, the Met Gala is a more curated event for designers. Fashion houses host tables and invite guests they’d like to dress and who represent the brand well.
“With the celebrity stuff, we’re never certain that they’re going to wear the dress because they are courted by all the top design houses who will also make custom looks for them,” Lazzaro explains. “Sometimes we’ll have up to four or five fittings with each one.”
Just 24 hours earlier, Lazzaro was overseeing last-minute touches to Christy Turlington’s black, embellished, silk-gauze gown, while Costa went to dress Hathaway. “I went to Christy because I love her and was like, ‘Please send me to Christie’,” she says. “But also because it was much more straight forward … being a supermodel, Christy looks incredible in anything, but if anything went wrong technically, I would have the capacity to fix it.”
Even after a big event like this, things don’t slow down for Lazzaro. There is Cannes in May, a pre-spring runway show on June 5, the spring show the first week of September, pre fall on December 10, the Golden Globe Awards on January 15, the Fall Show on February 5 and the Academy Awards on February 28. It doesn’t end.
For runway shows the Calvin Klein Collection team work more experimentally with embellishments, silhouettes and amazing fabrics. “It’s wonderful. Some of the fabrics are so beautiful to touch, but it’s something that always stops me doing my own label. I would never have access to these things.”
Softly spoken, considered and extremely articulate, nearly five years since she landed in New York, Lazzaro reflects on when she arrived. “I was so precocious and full of bravado,” she laughs. But with four Met Galas and countless runway shows under her belt, she is just as excited about what she does. She is certainly aware of how fortunate she is to be doing what she loves and to be continually driven by her work.
“I feel really lucky to be working with a house that aesthetically I feel an affinity with. I want to hold on to it as long as I can and I’ve still got a ton to learn.”