Exclusive: Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet discusses her latest football venture


Photo by NFL Consumer Products

By BANU IBRAHIM

Fashion and football are two of America's most integral cultural cornerstones. It's kind of no surprise that they have joined forces -- again.

For the second time, the Council of Fashion Designers of America , or CFDA, have teamed up with the NFL to dream up stunning luxury creations (two years ago, designers took on the task of reimagining the quintessential football helmet). This year, however, over 50 of America's most recognized designers, including Kenneth Cole, Rachel Zoe, and Alice + Olivia's Stacey Bendet, threw out every play in their book, upping the ante with bespoke designer footballs just in time for Super Bowl 50.

According to Rhiannon Madden, NFL's Vice President of Consumer Products, the showcase of designs are a way to highlight the ways that "fans can merge their love of fashion and football."

Starting today until February 14th, these one-of-a-kind footballs will be up for auction on NFL's website, with all proceeds going to the NFL Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to helping improve the lives of those touched by the game.

In honor of the collection's big reveal, it's only fitting that we spoke to one of the designers of the hour herself, Stacy Bendet of Alice + Olivia, to discuss bedazzled footballs, American inspirations, and of course, her favorite NFL team.

Can you talk a little bit about how you conceptualized the design for your bespoke Super Bowl football?
We created a bejeweled Stace Face Football! "Stace Face" is so iconic for my brand, so why not make it a football?!

I feel like football and fashion are such pillars of the American lifestyle. Is there a particular American-era you feel most connected to as a designer?
It was the era of the jean. At the beginning, everyone was wearing jeans, and the trouser was more of a "mom pant." I wanted to take the cut of a jean and turn it into a trouser so the colors and shapes could be more of a statement. It's about making the pant the focus of an outfit. When I first started the line our original Olivia pants were inspired by gorgeous photos of my mom in sexy 70's bell bottoms.

Also, so much of the "American Dream" consists of "making it". What advice would you give to young fashion designers and entrepreneurs hoping to have a breakthrough moment in the industry?
You need something that separates you from the rest, something that speaks to your identity. And then you can use that as a base, and build around and from that.

How would you describe the contemporary American woman you design for?
I design clothes that are meant to make a woman feel sexy, beautiful, lighthearted and fun. Fashion is meant to be uplifting and I like to think that my clothes help a woman to express her identity and personality and let her be her best self!

I know that proceeds for the auction will go to the NFL Foundation, but there are also a number of charity organizations you also take part in. Can you talk a little bit about your role in the philanthropic community and how that's shaped your career?
Female empowerment is a huge part of what I try to do on a daily basis, both personally and professionally. Alice + Olivia, employs over 300 women and so many of the charities I'm involved in are focused on helping women all over the world.

Since we are speaking about the NFL, do you have a favorite sports team or NFL team you like to root for?
Whatever team my husband is rooting for!

If you could dress any athlete, who would it be?
I've dressed some pretty cool athletes in the past! Like Olympians Aly Raisman and Serena Williams

To see the full collection, scroll through the gallery below!



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