Mad Style at Montclair State: A Fashion & Beauty Column

By Carlie Madlinger, Staff Writer

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Maggie Cook (left) and Ariellle Polito (right), Montclair State fashion graduates and creators of Metal of Pearl. Photo courtesy of Maggie
Cook

While taking their first fashion course at Montclair State University in the fall of 2007, Arielle Polito and Maggie Cook instantly became friends. From that moment on, the two fashionistas continued to take every fashion course offered at Montclair State and now have a successful online fashion boutique that they created together called Metal of Pearl.

Both Polito, who graduated in  2009, and Cook, who graduated in 2010, majored in fashion merchandising and design.

The fashion program had only been at Montclair State for a few years prior to when Polito and Cook began studying. “We were the ‘guinea pigs’ of this program,” said Polito.

Both Polito and Cook agreed that the young women who taught them helped prepare them for the real world.

Polito, 29, looked back at her time in the program and noted modeling the first garment she had ever handmade in the spring fashion show of 2009 as her proudest moment. In regards to the courses she preferred, Polito said, “I really loved my design class where I was able to make my own dress. I also loved learning about the history of iconic designers.”

Since high school, Polito has aspired to work in the fashion industry. “Being a buyer has always been a dream of mine and hopefully one day having my own store,” she explained.

“I was definitely a hippie in my past life. I love bohemian styles—lots of florals, dresses, sandals, bell bottoms, distressed jeans [and] headbands. I love to be trendy and casual and for every day outfit inspiration. I [also] follow current bloggers.” said Polito.

Cook, 30,  revealed that she enjoyed design and textile courses as well as an internship she held at Chanel. “I worked out of the Bergdorf Goodman show-room and helped in their RTW, FA and Footwear departments. I was shared there and got to work with the amazing men and women who worked for Prada and Valentino.”

Fashion is Cook’s creative outlet. “I’m not an analytical person and needed a way to express myself through my hands and my thoughts,” she said. “I also love color. The pantone book is my bible, so fashion seemed like the right road to take.

“I’ve been called a ‘poser’ since the day I started dressing myself,” she continued. “I can fall in love with many looks. One day I’ll be a skater and the next I’ll be 90s goth girl. I’ll go from a boho theme with fur to preppy chic. Whatever is clean and not in a ball on my bedroom floor, I’ll turn it into a theme.”

Since graduation, both Polito and Cook have been flourishing in the fashion industry on their own and as a unit.

“After college I worked for a wholesale children’s company in New York where I worked as a production assistant,” said Polito. “For the last five years I have been a buyer of all women’s accessories and home décor at B&B Department Stores down at the beach.”

Cook, on the other hand, explained, “I currently work as the fashion manager for Authentic Brands Group, a company who owns brands such as Juicy Couture, Judith Leiber and Aeropostale.  I work in product development and styling.  I am on set for every photoshoot and event that takes place for our brands.”

In March of  2016, Polito and Cook created Metal of Pearl, and they launched their website in June of 2016. Cook came up with the name which, according to her, is “a play on the oceanic composite material, Mother of Pearl.  We both have known for a long time that this is what we wanted and we wanted to do it together.”

They incorporated both of their styles—soft/romantic and edgy—in the concept for Metal of Pearl.

“Metal of Pearl is a combination of romantic bohemian and edgy western styles,” they explained. “We are very fashion forward and follow current trends while looking for unique pieces for our customers.”

These fashionistas order their inventory from various manufacturers in the Los Angeles market. They keep an eye out for “special” pieces for their buyers, while still staying on trend.

While Metal of Pearl is currently only sold online, they host trunk shows and shopping parties locally and intend on opening a store in the future. “We both love the idea of our own store, interacting with customers and having a place where our customers can have fun, try on new styles and have a great shopping experience.”

In addition to being featured in the upcoming Montclair State Fashion Show on May 2, Polito said, “We feel very accomplished given [that] we started with little capitol that we saved and was invested.  Our photoshoots are probably number one on the list [of things we enjoy] because we work so hard [on] those days and just squeal when they come out great.  Another accomplishment has been our PR efforts.  We linked up with radio hosts such a Bethany Watson from Z100, who has been an enormous help in our growth pattern.”

Katie Walsh modeling “Tie Me Up Shift Dress” from Metal of Pearl. Photo courtesy of Maggie Cook
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