WITH 25-PLUS YEARS in the fashion biz under her belt, Eileen Fisher might be a name you associate with your mother’s wardrobe. Not anymore. The industry vet recently gave her line a major makeover, replacing outdated styles with chic, unfussy pieces that work for a young professional — or her hip mom. The designer will host a fashion show Saturday at 1 p.m. at Neiman Marcus Chevy Chase (5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-966-9700).
» EXPRESS: Why revamp your line after all these years?
» FISHER: We wanted to be more inclusive, especially of younger generations. It used to be that a mother and daughter would come into our stores, and the mother would shop while the daughter stood back, crossed her arms and waited. Now, we’re seeing the daughter say, “Hey, I think I’ll try this on.”
» EXPRESS: What are the main styles you’re offering now?
» FISHER: There’s a lot of easy pieces to mix and match: skinny pants, leggings, tunics, lots of cardigans. One of the biggest changes we’ve made is modernizing our styling. We started pairing the pieces with things like high heels and red lipstick — which at first made me cringe, because they aren’t things I wear myself — but it ended up looking great. All of a sudden, we could see the same easy pieces in new ways.
» EXPRESS: What influences your designs?
» FISHER: Originally, I was inspired by trips to Japan in my late 20s. I loved simple shapes like kimonos, and a lot of our pieces still have those clean lines. Now, my inspiration is even more global. I love the layers of India and the little collared jackets of China. These are shapes that have been around for centuries.
» EXPRESS: How does your own life affect the designs?
» FISHER: I do yoga and meditation, so that’s helped develop an important requirement that the clothes should move with you. At any point, if I need to stop and stretch, or sit for a little while, the clothes have to accommodate that and not bag or sag. I’m fanatical about that.
» EXPRESS: That sounds like something a lot of women are looking for.
» FISHER: It’s always been one of my core ideas. When I started the company, I was so busy that even shopping was a lot work. I’m trying to help women sort through the maze of options that are available out there.
» EXPRESS: Is your daughter (Sasha, 17, pictured) a fan of the redesign?
» FISHER: She wears more of it than you’d even imagine. The funniest instance was the company holiday party, where we both wanted to wear the same sequin dress. She won. I’d planned to wear it with leggings and a long cardigan; she ended up pairing it with cowboy boots.
» EXPRESS: You famously started your company with just $350. What advice would you give young designers?
» FISHER: It’s about passion and surrounding yourself with supportive people. There’s plenty of room for new ideas.
Photo courtesy Eileen Fisher