Hot Picks is a column in which fashion insiders reveal their latest obsessions–sharing their recent purchases and must-have pieces.
Nine times out of ten if you’re in a room with Derica Cole Washington, she’s the flyest one there. Washington’s wardrobe is a breath of fresh air–comprised of pieces by Christopher John Rogers, House of Aama, and Amina Muaddi, all by designers of color. She prides herself on purchasing statement makers that tell a story. Many of her looks feature exuberant pops of color. Think punchy oranges, fun neon greens, and even fluorescent polka dots.
Now ten years into her career as a creative director and costume designer, she has projects like A24’s Zola, Hulu’s Kerry Washington-directed series Reasonable Doubt, and Lena Waithe’s Twenties under her belt. Working in the television and film industry is somewhat of a full-circle moment for Derica. She grew up obsessed with the outfits she saw on The Nanny, Girlfriends, Martin and also the cult classic Clueless. “Everybody had the looks,” she tells ESSENCE.com.
“I just rewatched The Nanny ever since Fran Drescher gave that big speech during the SAG strike the first day,” she says. “I was like, “‘Oh my God.’” I don’t think I realized how many pieces direct from the runway she was just wearing on the show.”
It’s these pop culture inspirations fused with watching her mother and grandmother sew which gave her a level of appreciation and knowledge for construction and textures. Additionally, early in her career, after studying art history at NYU, she interned at Harlem’s Studio Museum for Thelma Golden – this pivotal moment bleeds into how she is always paying attention to details and how garments can also be viewed as wearable art. Her esteemed background also includes a robust academic background studying art history, visual culture, and costume studies. Washington also cut her teeth in costuming by assisting fashion titan Ruth E. Carter.
Since her life is ultra-busy, Derica largely gravitates towards items that she feels are eclectic and elevated. “I want to buy the authentic piece, I also want to buy the archival piece,” she says. “I like emerging designers as well. But I’m also more conscious of my own taste, and just thinking about what ethics some of these designers have in terms of sourcing their materials, and what’s the foundation of their story.”
A recent birthday trip to New Orleans during the ESSENCE Festival of Culture gave Washington yet another opportunity to support designers and fashion houses she is in love with. She wore pieces like a mini bag from rising Brooklyn accessories brand Madamette, a cream custom dress by Desiree Iyama, a knit dress by Diotima, and flat, sparkly sandals by Bottega Veneta – proving that mixing high with low can be effortlessly chic, comfortable, and affordable.
“I enjoy discovering new designers and discovering new pieces and discovering new places to shop,” Derica notes.
Below take a look at 6 items Washington has purchased recently and is finding herself pulled to re-wear this summer.