Fashion Designer, Georgine Ratelband - EB-1A Green Card Extraordinary Ability in the Arts
May 20, 2016
Introduced through a mutual friend, the moment I first saw the work of young Dutch fashion designer Georgine Ratelband, I knew this woman had a unique talent.
Georgine is the creative force behind the eponymous label GEORGINE. A native of the Netherlands and raised in Belgium, Georgine has traveled the world for the inspiration that is infused into her womenswear collections.
At 26 years old, Georgine's resume is already downright impressive. Her label has been exhibited at the highly selective Tranoi International Fashion Tradeshow, as well as exclusive trunk shows at Paris Fashion Week. GEORGINE is also a headlining show at New York Fashion Week, appearing alongside other fashion powerhouses like J Crew, Rebecca Minkoff, Monique Lhuillier, and more. She is a go-to designer among celebrity stylists and her garments have been worn by Nicki Hilton, Zendaya Coleman, Kylie Jenner, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, and countless others. GEORGINE garments have been featured in performances at the MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna's latest music video, walk the red carpet at the Met Gala, and have made frequent appearances on the hit television series Empire worn by its fashion forward leading character"Cookie."
Unsurprisingly, her work frequently appears in editorials within the most important fashion publications in the world, including WWD, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Madame Figaro, Glamour, and more, as well as major news publications like the Examiner, New York Observer, New York Magazine, and others.
GEORGINE garments have a unique and distinctive quality. In an industry fraught with copycats and lack of ingenuity, her collections are praised for their creativity, execution, and her innovative, yet sophisticated, approach to luxury womenswear. One of her most celebrated signatures is her unexpected, experimental, and playful use of textiles, especially fur. Throughout this process, I've have the opportunity to watch three of her collections walk the runway at New York Fashion Week and one of the most impressionable memories was watching the six vibrantly colored "lollipop" fur coats from FW15 happily bounce down the runway. The whole audience gasped. Simply. Jaw-dropping.
For years, GEORGINE was successfully based in Singapore, with fabrication and material sourcing happening all over the world, including France, Italy, Switzerland, and Thailand. Lately, GEORGINE's notoriety was skyrocketing all around the world, however the label was receiving more and more exposure and fanbase in the United States. The time had come to make New York City the label's and Georgine's permanent home. From our first meeting, I knew that Georgine had the right stuff to go straight to the top and take on the highly selective Extraordinary Ability Green Card.
This type of green card is difficult for any field, but it is especially challenging for fashion. The second largest industry in the world, fashion earns $1.75 trillion globally, and few industries move as fast as it does. Today, the market is more diverse, sophisticated, and competitive than ever. There are literally hundreds of thousands of fashion designers working today around the world, with approximately 22,000 in the United States alone. Only a small number of independent fashion designers are recognized and followed internationally by celebrities, fashion experts, and consumers, many of which are tired of the sameness offered by big brands and popular “fast fashion” stores like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21. More and more, independent luxury designers have become an alternative to low quality/high volume clothing and accessories. These select few of successful artists are able to provide the market with true innovation and creativity before a global audience. The extraordinary ability green card requires us to demonstrate that the artist represents the upper echelon of this broad and demanding industry. We knew this would mean a huge amount of work on the part of so many people, but Georgine and her team were engaged and motivating partners and we were ready to hit the ground running.
I was tempted to merely include a photograph of Beyoncé on the red carpet in a stunning raspberry colored GEORGINE fur stole, insert proverbial "mic drop," close the box, and just call the application done. However, the EB-1 extraordinary ability green card is an extremely difficult legal standard and it is a document intensive application. In order to be successful, the artist must meet at least 3 of 10 possible criteria, evidencing that he or she has risen to the very top of her field. In Georgine's case we argued 6 solid criteria evidencing her extraordinary ability, all of which were heavily documented. Our office spent countless hours compiling press, researching the shows, organizations, associations, interviews, editorials, and her celebrity following, as well as gathering letters from fellow experts in the field, including other designers, Editors in Chief at major fashion magazines, celebrity stylists, and fashion-forward celebrities. In the end we had compiled a 1,200 page file that was full of information, documents, and photographs of Georgine's work. It was months of hard work, long hours late at night, coffee in hand, and I enjoyed every last minute of it. All the tedious research performed not only by Jasmine and myself, but Georgine and her team, paid off in the end and her I-140 extraordinary ability application was approved nine days after submitting it, which is fast by anyone's standards but hypersonic speed for U.S. immigration.
Just this last week, only four months after we submitted Georgine's I-140 application, we were toasting champagne with her little green card in hand. Sometimes its funny to think of all the effort that goes into something the size of a credit card. She is now a legal permanent resident of the United States and is gearing up for SS17, as well as all the exciting things in store for GEORGINE here in the U.S.
Closing a case like Georgine's is always somewhat bittersweet for my office. Over the span of a year, Jasmine and I often become so engrossed in the story of our clients' lives - their careers, news, and achievements, that its often a little sad when the work comes to an end. However, watching the careers of our clients explode in the United States is one of the best parts of my job and its an honor to play even a small part in that. Working with such talented, yet kind and humble, artists as Georgine is only icing on the cake. To everyone who played a part in this success story (you know who you are!), we are full of gratitude.