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How Jordana Warmflash Went from Crafty Wedding Guest to Award-Winning Designer

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It's time to get to know some of the emerging designers nominated for Racked Young Guns, our annual search for the country's most promising up-and-coming fashion talent.

Have nothing to wear? Make it yourself. That's the mentality that helped Jordana Warmflash, the 29-year-old designer behind the color-happy line Novis, get her start.

With nothing to wear to a wedding, Jordana took it upon herself to create a black strapless dress in silk, complete with a full skirt. It helped that the born-and-bred New Yorker knew how to sew—her mother taught her the ropes on the family sewing machine when she was a teenager—and had a heavy fashion background. "I was always interested in fashion and designing, more so the construction element, and less the trendy element," she says.

This and the dresses below are from Novis's spring/summer 2014 collection

After taking classes at FIT during high school, Jordana decided to enroll at one of the oldest fashion design program in the country at Washington University in St. Louis. During school, she interned with heavy-hitters like Peter Som and Zac Posen; afterward, she designed for Alice + Olivia and Jay Godfrey.

While cutting her teeth for other designers in the industry, she began designing dresses for events as a creative outlet. It was eventually the positive attention she received from these designs that gave her the confidence to strike out on her own. "I wanted to execute my own vision," she says. "Both my parents run their own businesses so that entrepreneurial spirit has been in my family." And in 2012, Novis—named in honor of her dad's mother—was born.

Inspired by midcentury furniture by Eames and Herman Miller, Jordana's collection is made entirely in the New York and exudes an Upper West-meets-East Village vibe. "I love a 60s silhouette," she says of her sculptural pieces and textured fabrics. "I have a vintage archive that I look to for print inspiration and construction, since everything was meticulously made back then."

For her latest collection, which Jordana presented at her third New York Fashion Week, she was inspired by Bauhaus artist Paul Klee and one of his expressionist paintings. The result: graphic, checkered coats; a bomber jacket with rubberized tweed sleeves; dresses and skirts with a dreamy watercolor landscape print; and an intarsia jacquard sweater.

Jordana also finds inspiration from a stash of vintage she recovered in her grandmother's basement. "My mother grew up in Brooklyn in a two family home with my grandparents and my great grandparents who lived upstairs. They had the house for about 65 years and when we cleaned it out the basement was filled with clothes from three generations—my mom, grandmother and great grandmother," she tells us.

Today, the line boasts an equally sophisticated and cheeky aesthetic, all thanks to a vibrant color palette, unexpected details, and rich, textured fabrics like cashmere, silk, jacquard, tweed and more, which Jordana sources mainly from Europe's Premiere Vision, a fabric show in Paris. Her pieces are impeccably tailored inside and out. "My design philosophy is that the inside has to be just as beautiful as the outside," she says.

Since the launch of her collection two years ago, the New York-based designer has come a long way. The rising star not only received the prestigious Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award this year, but has also dressed celebrities like Megan Hilty for the Golden Globes, Homeland's Morgan Saylor, and Tony-nominee Annaleigh Ashford. Oh, and if that's not enough, Jordana also plans to launch ecommerce in August.

"I've had a strong point of view from the beginning. It's about creating clothes that make a woman feel amazing, that are fun, colorful, and playful," she says. "[The woman who wears my pieces] is someone who loves to get dressed up and appreciates artful dressing and quality, tailored pieces, but doesn't take herself too seriously."
· Novis [Official Site]
· Meet Rising Jewelry Star Wing Yau of WWAKE [Racked]
· All Racked Young Guns [Racked]