NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – After nearly two decades of living away, celebrity stylist and fashion designer Lacie Thorne has moved back to her hometown of Nashville – bringing with her extensive experience, contacts and connections from the fashion industry as she helps Nashville stars develop their own brands.
“I think in the back of my mind I always wanted to come home, but it was a long journey to get here,” said Thorne.
Thorne, who returned to Nashville in 2018, spent 18 years away as she pursued a career in fashion design and celebrity styling that took her from New York to Los Angeles, Hong Kong to Paris.
After graduating from University School of Nashville, she earned a degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University but admits she did not want to pursue business. She was accepted to Parson’s School of Design in New York City after graduating from SMU.
“When I left Nashville and told people that I was moving to New York to join the fashion industry, people acted like I was moving to Hollywood to become an actress,” said Thorne. “It was like ‘good luck with that, that’s not a real thing. We’ll see you in a year.’”
A lucky break Thorne describes as “right place right time” turned into a long stint with Star Branding. Iconic designer Tommy Hilfiger was her direct boss.
Thorne was the first person hired for the brand ‘Jennifer Lopez for Kohl’s’, which involved Thorne traveling back and forth from New York to Los Angeles to meet with JLo’s team to ensure Lopez’s vision was being realized for the line.
Thorne’s work on the clothing line secured her role in two other high-profile clothing lines - Nikki Minaj for Kmart and Adam Levine for Sears.
“[I was] in their homes! I got to see Jennifer’s Gucci dress – the really famous one,” said Thorne. “I got to meet Adam Levine’s then-fiancé now-wife. I got to be in Nikki Minaj’s amazing closet because we were there pulling for inspiration for the line. We wanted to look at prints and colors and jewelry and accessories and [answering] ‘what is this person’s style and how do we encompass it for mass market consumption.’”
Thorne dealt directly with each celebrity to ensure the brand was always heading in the right direction. She acted as the go-between for her New York design office and each celebrity to ensure they liked the colors and styles and approved the overall direction.
“That’s what is so exciting about what I’m doing now because we’re bringing those services to Nashville based artists,” said Thorne.
Thorne is currently in contact with undisclosed Nashville artists to find opportunities for them to leverage their notoriety for branding and licensing deals. In those situations, the celebrity receives royalties for the use of their name and image on a product.
“[Stars in] Nashville resonate so strongly with the rest of middle America,” said Thorne. “They’re authentic and these people lead lives we want to [lead], so I think there’s a lot of fun projects coming our way.”
Thorne said clothing is not the only celebrity product we could see coming out of Nashville, but added home goods, liquor brands and any other item with strong consumer engagement could be possible in the near future.
“That’s a really unique opportunity for me as a native Nashvillian,” said Thorne. “It’s relationship based, its trust based, it’s me sitting in your living room saying ‘let’s think about how to do this and make it really fun.’”
Along with serving as a scouting agent and licensing consultant, Thorne is also a producer, branding consultant, Belmont professor, a wife and mother of two young children who were both born in Hong Kong.
Thorne and her husband moved to Hong Kong in 2013 for his career in private equity and capital investing. She was four months pregnant with her first child at the time. Her son Pierce was born in 2014.
At the time of her trans-continental move, Thorne thought her career in fashion was done, but she instead moved from fashion design to fashion styling. She coordinated and styled photo shoots for luxury brands like Van Cleef & Arpels and Panerai watches.
Her work appeared in major campaigns and magazines all over Southeast Asia, featuring labels like Dior, Burberry, Givenchy, Gucci, Lanvin, Valentino, Giorgio Armani, YSL, Fendi, Hermes, Versace, Ferragamo, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Balenciaga.
After the birth of her second child, Bohen, Thorne and her husband went on a 2-week visit to see family. Part of their trip brought them back to their hometown of Nashville.
“We came to Nashville for a visit and we never went back to Hong Kong,” said Thorne, who explains she and her husband made the decision while they were here in Nashville.
Thorne said the 30-hour trip between the two continents was so hard on their two young children that when they made the decision to move back to Nashville, she and her husband chose to not travel back to Hong Kong.
“We paid someone to go into our apartment and pack it all up,” recalls Thorne. “It took four months to get our things [shipped to us], so we were wearing the same 2-weeks-worth-of-clothes for four months.”
Thorne recalls the initial culture shock of moving back to Nashville in January 2018 after being gone since 2000. She noted the dramatic growth of the city and influx of people but says letting her kids be close to both sets of grandparents reaffirmed they made the right decision for their young family.
When they moved back in January 2018, Thorne began doing in Nashville what she had been doing in Hong Kong for the five years prior – producing and styling magazine photo shoots.
“I’ve been doing some really fun editorials,” said Thorne. “I’ve been able to do some commercial projects, but it’s the teams of people here that I meet that have really solidified my perspective that this was a really wonderful choice.”
Thorne’s current work can be seen locally in photo shoots for nFocus magazine, Nashville Edit and Nashville Scene, among others.
In photo shoots, Thorne often uses formal-wear created by local designer Johnathan “Kayne” Gillaspie, a Nashville native who competed in Season 2 of Project Runway. Gillaspie owns and distributes his own brand of formal-wear. He also oversees the manufacturing.
“There are so many design professionals flooding in [to Nashville] from other parts of America and I keep running into very qualified fashion designers – sometimes at my own school at Belmont University where I’m teaching and there’s this community of underground fashion industry professionals and I just can’t wait to see what comes from it,” said Thorne.
Thorne teaches a course at Belmont’s O’More College of Architecture, Art & Design called “Fashion Portfolio and Corporate Communications” where she requires her students to wear a blazer to every class.