Emily Ratajkowski Gets Into the Fashion Design Game

Christy Dawn Planned Parenthood Dress

Photo: Courtesy of Christy Dawn

Fashion is having a major ’70s moment. But for a one-off collaboration between actress Emily Ratajkowski and Christy Dawn Peterson, founder of sustainable fashion brand Christy Dawn, that inspiration runs deeper than a throwback silhouette. Yes, their just-launched Emily dress ($250) features flared, three-quarter-length sleeves, a square neckline, and a neck tie that all point to the disco decade, but the heart of their partnership is a conscientious by-product of the era’s women’s movement.

The pair, who connected through social media earlier this year and bonded over their shared value of women supporting women, have produced a limited run of the minidress, with 25 percent of proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood. True to Christy Dawn form, the rayon-crepe dress is locally produced and made in four colors from deadstock fabric. The only hitch? Just 75 dresses were made and, after launching just yesterday, the style is nearly sold out. (PSA: Snap one up now if you have the chance.)

We caught up with the designers in L.A. at last night’s launch event for the dress to talk about the design process, holiday dressing, and why supporting other women feels so right.

Emily Ratajowski Christy Dawn Peterson

Emily Ratajkowski in the Emily Dress and Christy Dawn Peterson wearing the Bergen Wrap Dress from her line. Photo: Mike Windle/Getty Images

Christy, you’ve done only one other collaboration for the line, with Langley Fox Hemingway. What was it about Emily that made her the right Christy Dawn collaborative partner?
Obviously, she’s gorgeous, but aside from that, I feel like she’s so supportive of other women. When doing a collaboration with friends or celebrities, I think it’s really important to share the same values, so that was big for me. I feel like, as women, we should be lifting each other up and not breaking each other down. I noticed that Emily is always really supportive in that realm. Our brand is a very feminine brand that supports women—and to fold in Planned Parenthood made it feel like it was an even better collaboration. So we reached out. And when I expressed that to Emily, she responded right away.

Emily, you’ve worked with Planned Parenthood to raise awareness about reproductive health. Why is being supportive of other women so important to you?
I think there’s probably truth to the stereotype of women always competing with each other, and I think that’s really sad. I see that a lot in my industry and in fashion and my friendships, both with older women and younger women. I think it’s an epidemic that strong, supportive women can really end, which I think is exciting.                            

Emily, you came to the table with the idea of doing a minidress with a square neckline and flared sleeves. Why did this design feel right for the moment and for this partnership?
For me, it was a combination of classic silhouettes that I love. I always remember seeing pictures of my mom in college in the ’70s wearing a square neckline, and I think it’s so feminine and pretty, and I don’t see enough of that. The scarf tie is something everyone’s wearing right now, which I really love—I think it’s super feminine and sexy in a cool way. The bodice and other elements are about what’s comfortable and things I liked in other dresses I find myself returning to.

Christy, this style is a departure from the more flowing dresses that are a signature of your line. How does this particular dress work for Christy Dawn?
We do a lot of mid-length dresses and very European shapes, so it was really nice to collaborate on a dress that’s a different silhouette than the one we already use. Emily sent this first dress sketch, and I loved it right away, so we really didn’t have to change much—just a few little tweaks and twists. We were really confident with it from the second I saw the sketch, so it was a really easy process.

We’re in the throes of holiday party season. What’s your go-to trick for holiday dressing?
Tights and a really big fuzzy jacket that looks chic and intentionally oversize, but actually it’s just keeping you warm. With the Emily dress, I’d wear a full trench or a jacket that hits the hemline of the dress.

Peterson: I’m such a comfort queen, so I go for a wrap dress. I love being comfortable and feminine at the same time, so I am always attracted to that. At holiday parties, you’re drinking, moving around, and eating, so this feels good for me. I have a son, too, so if we’re at a holiday party, my outfit has to be functional.

Christy Dawn Planned Parenthood Dress

Photo: Courtesy of Christy Dawn