Visions of Paradise: Emilie Ghilaga


Young New Yorker Emilie Ghilaga, maker of colorful, eye-catching womenswear, can’t remember the first time she self-identified as a designer. Ghilaga says she technically started designing at the age of six, forming outfits for herself based on archetypal women. “But professionally, I began in India.” Jaipur, specifically, is where Ghilaga found herself when inspiration struck. At the time she was working for the renowned Gem Palace jewelry boutique. “My experiences were like a movie montage,” Ghilaga says. “Little children doing acrobatics on rainy streets and begging for money, Indian men bringing flowers to my door atseven in the morning scaring me half to death, monkeys, peacocks, cows crossing the highway.”

It was this wonderfully fresh collection of images that led Ghilaga to create four dresses that, akin to her childhood rhetoric, were based on four different fashion-conscious females: Charlotte the Harlot (a showy, sexy, and naturally short dress), the Day Tripper (a free, flowing frock that begs to be worn on the beach), Gisele (an understated, lavish look for the evening’s gala benefit), and The Perfect Girlfriend (a fun and feminine dress that subtly recalls the ’80s). The dresses were a hit, and, due in large part to popular demand, her line was born.

Nowadays, Ghilaga’s hard at work preparing her 2012 collections. Spring, she says, is “pre-apocalyptic ornate,” while fall is more “medieval Star Wars.”

Photo by Daisy Johnson