Aprons go high fashion with Libbie Summers’ new collection
A WEEK IN THE LIFE of Libbie Summers goes something like this: Shoot video content for IGTV and YouTube, serve as creative consultant for multiple brands, travel for speaking engagements, and dream up delicious, approachable recipes plus whimsical designs and crafts. There’s also what might be her biggest project yet, The Libbie Summers Yum Yum Smile Shop, a living goods line she launched in late 2018.
The online shop started with cheerful, artisanal sprinkles and has now expanded into apparel — most notably, the Culinary Salon collection of aprons. But to simply call these garments aprons doesn’t do justice. “They’re meant to go from kitchen to street,” Summers says. “They’re very French-meets-Japanese, which is how I dress and what I love.”
The aprons are made from Japanese linen and come in four styles, including the Cuisine wrap dress, which Summers had on during our interview, paired with easy layers of navy and black and her signature Oxford shoes. There’s also the Atelier, a double-layer pinafore apron dress (The Grey’s Mashama Bailey recently picked one up in both black and chambray); the Chamber, which looks like a long flowy skirt in the front but ties in back like a chambermaid’s apron (artist Katherine Sandoz paints in hers); and the Shopkeep, the closest in the group to a traditional bib apron, yet with a rounded, feminine neckline (the staff at Lori Judge’s Yaupon Teahouse wear it in dark gray). Four additional pieces will follow later this spring, including the Kitchen Pant, with pintucks for a flat front and wide-cut legs that taper just so.
Summers envisioned each design down to the length of the ties — “they have to be able to wrap around the front and back of you,” she notes — and the depth of the pockets — “they need to actually hold things.” Next, she worked with Rebecca Tanner- Russell, of Savannah’s Port City Sewing Factory, who produced the pieces and offered invaluable tips along the way. Tanner-Russell is only one of the many people whom Summers regularly collaborates within the local community — a creative group she describes as “more inspiring than anything else.”
While the Culinary Salon collection is new, its impetus goes back 10 years, when Summers designed an apron dress to wear on TV sets while styling food. “I just wanted something that I could work in and still go outside in,” she recalls. “I wanted it to be beautiful because I was making beautiful food.” Summers wore that apron dress over and over again before making a prototype of the Cuisine style last year. Soon, she realized she had a business on her hands.
Summers is in the process of securing wholesale accounts, and the collection is currently sold on her website, YumYumSmileShop.com, where each apron style is paired with a recipe and a food inspiration. “I look at food a little differently than other people,” she says. “It’s not just for sustenance — I see a deeper storytelling side to it. Food is how I approach everything.”