Designer. Fort Greene.


Ellen Van Dusen was born and raised in Washington, DC. She studied at Tufts University in Boston and then moved to NYC, where in 2010 she launched Dusen Dusen, a womenswear line known for its original bold prints on versatile, wearable silhouettes. Each season, the Dusen Dusen collection is developed and inspired by fine art, commercial and naive design, and the brain's reaction to movement, color, and contrast. In 2015, the brand expanded with the launch of Dusen Dusen Home. Ellen currently resides in Brooklyn with her dog, Snips.

Streetstyle details: Jacket, Esprit ; Jeans, Levi's ; Shoes, Acne ; Bag, Chiyome

Vintage Shirt from Duo NYC

I’ve always been interested in making clothes, even as a little kid. In my younger days my favorite activity was tie dyeing or sponge painting t shirts. In middle school I started going to thrift stores and taking my findings home and altering them, which is when I learned how to use a sewing machine. I would make t shirts into dresses with patchwork, and made these really crazy, ugly dresses. I found one of these when I was home for Christmas this winter.
I get up, cuddle with my dog for a while and get some coffee brewing. I like to have at least 15 minutes to sit down with a cup and relax before I go to work. I’ll snack on whatever is in the fridge and head to my studio around 9.
I think when it really clicked is when I went to a fabric store for the first time and realized I could choose exactly what I wanted instead of piecing together a bunch of things that were already garments. I loved the idea of drawing something on paper and turning it into something real.

Ellen's favorite books

I really love this Natalie Du Pasquier book— it’s all drawings of design objects that never actually came to fruition- so it’s kind of a fantasy. These drawings feel very personal to her, it’s nice to have a window into what could have been. I am a huge fan of her work so this one feels very special.

Rainbow: Lorien Stern ; Blue Vase: Bzippy

Painting: Kindah Khalidy

Jumpsuit & Sheets, Dusen Dusen 

I always use moisturizer after I shower, and my strategy when I wear make-up is to make it look like I’m not wearing any. As far as products go, I usually just go with drugstore cosmetics. I use Kiehl’s shampoo and conditioner, which is my biggest splurge!

Ellen's favorite beauty products

My first job was working for another designer, Mary Meyer at her studio in Greenpoint. I was her only employee at the time, and was doing a ton of different stuff. I learned so much working for her, and took a lot of that knowledge with me to start my own line.

Jumpsuit, Dusen Dusen

The collection did well and soon I was sewing all the time, and then I decided that I needed to take the next step, do real seasonal collections and find a factory to manufacture the clothes. My advice is to be yourself in design- try not to just follow trends or take anyone else’s opinion too seriously. Trust yourself and you’ll make something unique.

Sailboat Kite: Haptic Lab

I was still making my own clothes while I had my other job, and I decided to try and sell them. I brought my “samples” to Duo, a store in the East Village, and they ended up placing an order. From the time the order was placed to when I delivered the goods I had to learn a ton- how to do sizing, how to finish seams, how to get zippers cut to the correct length, it was a lot!
I do a lot of thrift and vintage shopping. In my day to day, my go-to outfit is a striped t shirt and jeans. I can never resist a striped tee when I see one at a thrift store, and I probably have a solid 10 good ones at this point. I wear a lot of color and rarely wear black (unless it is pattened), and usually go for lighter shades instead of dark. I wear a lot of my line as well. When I am designing a collection I think about what I want to wear but I can’t find or don’t have, so each season I make something that fills a personal void. It’s a pretty good system.

Sweaters; Dusen Dusen



Bar: Hot Bird

Restaurant: Emily's

Coffee: Peck's


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