After graduating with a fashion degree from Baylor University, Alabama native Jodi Arnold packed up her sketchbook and took off for Brooklyn. The neighborhood stuck — the designer has lived in Prospect Heights for fifteen years, culling inspiration from exhibits at the nearby Brooklyn Museum. Though she launched the Mint by Jodi Arnold label almost a decade ago, she just unveiled her first stand-alone store this fall (56 University Pl., at 10th St.; 347-270-8610). The West Village shop is a combination retail store and community space — Arnold can often be found manning the register on weekends, and she hosts regular art and photography exhibits and mixers. (It was originally conceived as a 56-day pop-up shop through Christmas Eve, but she’s in talks to sign a long-term lease.) This March, Arnold introduces her first collaborative line with the Limited. We chatted with the designer about Japanese architecture and finding design inspiration in Michael Jackson and Biggie Smalls.
What was your vision for the Limited collaboration?
My real challenge was how to put a beautiful embellishment on a garment at this price point (shirts are $58 to $68 and dresses hover around $120). I didn’t want it to look like watered-down versions of what we do in the Jodi Arnold collection.
What’s the inspiration behind your label?
I have this sort of effortlessly cool girl in my head. The holiday collection is all about spontaneity: The prints are unconstructed and asymmetric, and some of the embroidery looks like paint falling down a canvas. The spring collection is a mash-up: high and low, stripes and plaids, boy and girl — I was listening to the Michael Jackson and Biggie Smalls mix in the studio.
A look from the 2009 holiday collection.Photo courtesy of Jodi Arnold.
Who are your favorite designers?
I love the architect Zaha Hadid. I’m influenced by all kinds of art forms, but particularly architectural designs. I recently took a trip to Tokyo, and their architects are like gods there; people really respect and appreciate them. In New York, sometimes it feels like buildings are thrown up without any thought.
What’s the first designer item you bought?
A Lurex sweater from Halston in 1990. I wore it to the clubs in the East Village all the time.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
I love Maryam Nassir Zadeh on the Lower East Side. She has such interesting things, whether they’re clothes or not. And my favorite bookstore is powerHouse Books in Dumbo.
How would you describe your personal style?
I like things to be easy. I love just a pair of jeans, a beautiful pair of shoes, and an interesting top. I’ll pair J.Crew jeans with my own sweaters.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
That everything looks so mix-and-match right now: high and low, masculine and feminine.
Any trends you hate?
Probably the eighties trend and the really tough kinds of stuff — studs and all that. Once you see it at Forever 21 and H&M, you know it’s time to move on.
What’s one item you’re saving to buy?
Maybe a new dog. I have two really old cocker spaniels, Rudy and Winnie. My business partner has two pharaoh hounds, and they’re so lovable.
What’s something every woman should have in her closet?
Even more than a pair of shoes, I’d say a good vacuum cleaner. There’s nothing worse than trying to sweep a hardwood floor.
What’s something you never leave the house without?
Kissing my two cocker spaniels.