Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spotlight on New Haven CT Fashion Designer Neville Wisdom

A few days after Neville Wisdom's amazing ON9 Fall Fashion Show, I had the opportunity to watch the creative genius at work, and sit down and talk with the lead designer himself in his studio on Orange Street in New Haven, CT.

Friend and fellow blogger Natasha, publisher of  One Woman's Style Evolution, arranged the interview by working her Jamaican connections. She knew someone who knew someone, and there we were, sitting face to face with Neville Wisdom and learning a little about his life story, design process, and his creative journey.

So how does a self-described little "spearfishing Jamaican boy" end up as one of Connecticut's leading fashion designers? 

His story has many twists and turns, beginning with learning the creative process of sewing and design from his mother, studying the culinary arts in vocational school, enrolling in fashion design courses, interning with a tailor in Jamaica, forming a creative partnership with a clothing designer in Kingston, eventually arriving in America to learn carpentry and home interior craftsmanship from his father. 

All the while supporting himself working in the medical field, operating a fashionable boutique in the Westville section, real estate investments and property management, and, finally, his creative dream realized, opening his own design studio in New Haven's Historic Ninth Square district.

Over the course of our two hour interview, in his soft spoken Jamaican accent he explained his background, creative journey, and design philosophies.

Two stories of his experiences stood out to me.

The first, in an internship with a tailor in Jamaica, in his initial days on the job he watched his mentor create a pair of slacks. Neville watched. learned, and absorbed the process. Anyone familiar with designing sportswear knows that pants are probably one of the most difficult items to properly create. And over the weekend, Neville, the novice, created his first pair of pants. Eager to show how much he had learned to his mentor, he returned to the studio the following Monday, and proudly showed the tailor his creation. His mentor looked at him, and told him "I have nothing more to teach you, you must leave now."

Yes, the student surpassed the teacher. And the teacher did not like it.

The second experience, the journey he described in opening the Orange Street design studio. The passion that he displayed when talking about seeing the studio for the first time, discovering the exposed brick behind the plastered walls, and eventually finding the open design space he had always envisioned.

His heritage from both parents, in the ability to create design through textile from his mother, and brick and mortar design from his father, and all the hopes and dreams that brought him to New Haven, apparently all came together, finally, in this space of creative design.

And in reflecting back on opening his studio, he remarked, "It was like being in a car and finally having control of my destination"

There's so much to like about Neville Wisdom's creations. The exquisite fit and seams, the inclusion of bright colors, the bold prints and mix of patterns, masterful draping, and amazing details.

And there's so much to like about Neville Wisdom, the man. While we were winding down our interview, a staff member from a neighboring restaurant came in and dropped off that day's daily special, because they noticed that Neville hadn't stopped in that day.

Finally, as we were leaving, Natasha asked him if he had any intentions to show in New York for the upcoming Caribbean Designer Fashion Week. Neville thought soulfully and reflected for a minute, and mentioned he wasn't sure if his designs were meant to go in that direction.  I then asked good naturedly, "you mean the New Haven fashion scene here is not so bad" to which he quickly responded with a bright smile, "yes, the New Haven fashion scene is not so bad; in fact, it's great."

Such good news for us in New Haven! It sounds like Neville Wisdom's Design Studio is here to stay.

Visit the Neville Wisdom Design Studio and see these wonderful creations for yourself. 

NW - Neville Wisdom Design Studio
63 Orange Street
New Haven, CT 06510

Phone 203.891.6691

General Hours of Operation Monday-Saturday 11AM – 7PM

“LIKE" them on Facebook @ Nevilles Fashion Design Studio

FOLLOW them on Twitter @ NevillesFashion

Big thanks to Natasha for arranging the interview, and Neville's assistant, Lauren, for scheduling and giving me the inside scoop on Neville's studio, and especially for helping me find the perfect Neville Wisdom creation to wear for an upcoming event.


  1. It seems like difficult more than a dream that how he evolves and got his dream. It's great to see how you outreached with your Jamaican connections. Beyond everything else, Neville is a great motivation and I am kind of inspired.

    1. Neville is very inspiring. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. I loved your pictures from the fashion show he held a few weeks back. His bold use of color and print is pretty impressive.

    1. I love his color block and draping techniques, as well. He's amazing!

  3. Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! Design Institute


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