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Designers to Watch

These 10 New York designers might not be household names, but they sure are ones to watch. We've got the down-low on how they got started, upcoming projects and—because we can't resist—we asked some invasive questions about their personal lives. Happy NYFW!

Dusen Dusen, Ellen van Dusen


What did you do before you started your brand?

Before I started my brand I was working for another designer in Brooklyn, Mary Meyer. I was her assistant and was helping her with all aspects of the business, and I learned a ton.

Who is your favorite designer?

My favorite designer is Jean Charles de Castelbajac. He's a French designer who uses unexpected materials (like stuffed animals, shoes, blankets, etc), crazy colors and really literal interpretations of his influences. It's so nuts that it's almost unwearable, but I love seeing what he comes up with every season.

What do you collect?

I collect everything sharks and watermelon. I have a real shark jaw, two shark hats, a shark shower curtain, shark towels... the list goes on. Everything in my kitchen has a watermelon on it. I went by Watermelon Ellen as a kid. For my birthday last year my boyfriend made me a Tumblr called shark melon where it's only images of sharks and watermelons. He keeps updating it, it's one of my all time favorite gifts. I also have a large collection of artist editions and zines, which we have on a rotating magazine rack in our apartment.

Who is your favorite rapper?

My favorite rapper is Biz Markie. He has a great song about shopping in Brooklyn that I really relate to.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

If I could collaborate with anyone I would choose Natalie du Pasquier. She was one of the founding members of the design group Memphis, which was a major source of inspiration for my spring collection. Her patterns are really amazing and it would be so incredible to incorporate them into one of my collections.

What did you want to be you grow up?  

When I was a kid I wanted to work with the Muppets. After I graduated from college I applied for a job making puppets at Jim Henson's workshop, and it's still a dream of mine to visit the studio.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?

My favorite cartoon character is Trent from Daria. He's such a babe!

What's next for you?

There are no immediate plans for this, but I would love to get into the housewares and upholstery fabric market. I made pillows as part of a recent collection and I really enjoyed the change of pace. My favorite part of the design process is designing prints, and I would love to explore that more with a new medium in mind.