Photographs by Yossi Michaeli
Ivanka Trump is one of a breed of young movers and shakers – Chelsea Clinton and Georgina Bloomberg are other shining examples – who have never taken their birthright for granted.
And that’s no small feat.
Her father, after all, is the famously outspoken real estate and branding mogul, host of NBC’s “The Apprentice” and commentator on all things pop cultural, the man simply known as “The Donald.” Her mother, the Czechoslovakian-born Ivana, is also a high-society fixture, as well as a former fashion model and Olympic athlete.
Ivanka, a Wharton School of Business grad, has made a name for herself not only in The Trump Organization but with her own brand of jewelry, accessories, outerwear and now, prêt-à-porter. And she’s done it with an irresistible blend of cool intelligence and warm accessibility.
Some of the credit for this goes, of course, to her family, whose strong work ethic and appreciation for talent began with grandfather Fred, a real-estate developer. But most of the credit goes to Ivanka herself, who graduated from the prestigious Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn. Today this inveterate multitasker balances the weighty title of executive vice president of development and acquisitions at The Trump Organization and appearances as a judge on “The Apprentice” with the demands of a high-end jewelry line, a more accessible but equally fabulous footwear line, a Mondani handbag line, a sophisticated outerwear line (which expands to Macy’s Herald Square this August) and the debut ready-to-wear line.
Add to this long list of commitments a growing young family. Last summer, Ivanka gave birth to her first child, Arabella Rose, who is bound to inherit the real estate gene. Ivanka’s husband is Jared Kushner, who shares ownership of the Kushner Properties holding company with his father, Charles Kushner. Like attracts like: As with Ivanka and her family business, Jared is involved in the acquisitions side of Kushner and bought The New York Observer when he was just 25.
The world travelers can be found anywhere at any time. During the week of this interview, Ivanka divided her time among New York, where she was photographed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala; Istanbul, where she celebrated the opening of The Trump Towers Mall ; and Canada where she witnessed another brand expansion with the opening of Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto.
A visit to the Park Avenue showroom of her fashion label – Ivanka Trump – reveals that this isn’t just a business venture. It’s Ivanka’s earnest pursuit of her passion for style, influenced by her exposure to the fashion community as a child and later as a model and by her inspirational travels.
The new line – which is available at Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom – reflects Ivanka’s affinity for polished ensembles for the workplace and the cocktail party. With them, it’s clear that she is not just lending her name to a collection, but rather creating a brand around the look that best defines the businesswoman and young mother’s image.
Your new clothing line seems forward yet practical. Why did you find it critical to balance trendiness and classic taste?
“I only design things that I personally would love to wear. I felt it was important to create a collection which reflected my personal style and also something that women could relate to. I use a lot of feminine details, whether it’s lace or utilizing a bow accent. You will also see my signature color, coral, which runs throughout the pieces. My collection also incorporates many different looks that can take you from work to evening and to the weekend.”
The response to your jewelry line has been amazing. Why did you think this was the right time to launch your fashion brand? Did you feel there was a void in the market?
“I launched my fine jewelry collection in 2007, which was very exciting. This past fall we just opened a gorgeous new boutique on Mercer Street in SoHo. In 2010, I expanded my collections into footwear and handbags, with outerwear following in fall 2011. The expansion into ready-to-wear for me was the next step and something I had always planned to do but wanted to be sure it was at the right time. I saw a void in the market place for elegant, quality pieces at an affordable price point.”
Describe the woman you envision wearing Ivanka Trump.
“I believe that the Ivanka Trump woman wants to be stylish but is not overly trend conscious. She enjoys beautiful, quality pieces that pay great attention to detail but at an affordable price point. Many of my pieces can take you from day to night and to the weekend, which for me – as a working mother and wife, who is on the go constantly – this is essential.”
Your collection showcases a lot of color. Where did the inspiration come from?
“The signature color of my brand has always been coral, and I have seen this color really ‘pop’ this spring. We use coral accents in all of my collections. For example, in apparel you will see inside linings or small details incorporating this color. I travel quite frequently, so most often I am drawing my inspirations from recent trips I have taken and cities I have visited.”
Describe the transition from dream to on-the-racks reality.
“I have always loved fashion and with the launch of my jewelry, handbag, footwear and outerwear collections, the next step was ready-to-wear. Having the ability to essentially dress a woman from head to toe is very exciting. The response has been tremendous from both retailers and customers. To me that is the ultimate validation for everything I am doing.”
How did growing up around the high fashion crowd play into your gravitating to the fashion industry?
“I remember as a young girl sitting on my mother’s lap at Paris Fashion Week, admiring all of the beautiful clothing that went down the runway. Hosting my first fashion show in March was such an incredible feeling. I have always loved and have had great respect for the fashion industry, and to see my collections all come together was truly amazing.”
What does your dad think of your fashion venture? What’s the best biz tip he’s given you lately?
“My father is very supportive of my fashion venture and was sitting front row at my first fashion show. My father continues to be an incredible teacher in all aspects of business, and I am very lucky to have the ability to work alongside him every day. He has always told me in order to be successful, you must love what you do. I believe this is a very valuable piece of advice and something I continue to apply to every venture I enter into.”
“It has been a very exciting time for us at The Trump Organization with the addition of several new projects over the past four months, including the opening of our newest hotel, Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto. Additionally, we bought Doral Hotel & Country Club, which is not only home to “The Blue Monster” – which hosts the WGC Cadillac Championship – but also is a 700-room hotel in the heart of Miami. We were also selected by the US General Services Administration to be the developer of Washington, D.C.’s, The Old Post Office, which is the most sought after hotel redevelopment opportunity in the country.
“Lastly, I just returned home from a trip to Istanbul where my father and I celebrated the opening of Trump Towers Mall – the third component to the project – which also consists of a residential and office tower. So as you can see it has been a busy but very exciting time with tremendous projects. Additionally, within my personal brand I am looking forward to announcing new launches very soon.”