Robin Givhan, then The Post’s fashion critic, picked the winner: Ermilio.
The win was a hint at a bright future for the Philadelphia native. So what has happened since then?
To refresh your memory: Her family has a storied history in textiles. Her grandfather designed for Grace Kelly; her father runs his own bespoke tailoring business.
“I’d grown up in it, and I had absolutely no desire to design clothing whatsoever,” Ermilio remembers of her formative years. “I think that everybody in my life growing up would probably say that that’s something that they remember me for, is loving clothes. I just didn’t necessarily ever want to design them, I think, because I didn’t know I was any good at it.”
She majored in visual culture at New York University and spent her undergrad years interning at fashion-magazine powerhouse Conde Nast for publications such as Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily.
She began to take design more seriously in college and fell into designing when she was faced with the all-too-familiar conundrum of finding day outfits that could take her from the corporate world back to the college scene.
There “wasn’t one garment in my wardrobe that kind of did it all for me,” she recalls. After sketching designs, she took them to her father, who has an on-site tailor and seamstress in his Haverford, Pa., offices for Ermilio Clothiers. Her father’s customers started purchasing them for their wives.
“I always say that’s the biggest compliment, when a husband buys something of mine for his wife,” she says.
She slowly began to build what would become her brand of elegant and expressive clothing. “I started with a customer before I had a product,” Ermilio says.
Last fall, she debuted her collection, expanding into ready-to-wear, priced around $1,500 or $2,000 for cocktail dresses with separates at $495 to $550.
The response: Marie Claire magazine just declared her one of the new designers to watch, finding “the perfect balance between clean-cut minimalism and colorful, girly glamour.” Lucky magazine, in its April issue, called her clothes “body-conscious in a whip smart way.” Actress Brooklyn Decker wore an Ermilio design to promote her new movie, “Battleship.”
Ermilio has also continued to create prom and bridal gowns for private clients, and will collaborate with wedding dress company Bhldn for an exclusive collection. “It allows me to get back to my roots in custom, so to speak,” she says of her in-between season work designing gowns.
Ermilio’s clothing is available worldwide, from Shopbop.com to stores in Australia, Dubai and the United States.
She has found more fulfillment in design than she ever imagined, she says.