“You’re never going to see us do a goth collection or an homage to black,” said designer Lela Rose when asked about her core aesthetic, which is and always has been feminine, colorful and classic-with-a-twist.
A Texas native, Rose graduated from Parsons in 1993 and debuted her own collection five years later. Apart from her signature line, Rose launched a wedding collection in 2006 and partnered with Payless in 2007 to produce fashion-forward footwear for the retailer.
The lower Manhattan resident — who often can be seen tooling around the city on her custom-built trike — recently talked fashion and NYC with amNewYork.
Tell me a little about the spring 2012 line. The inspiration for this collection is very interesting: It’s taken from signage from Las Vegas and Coney Island in the ‘50s. The color palette is taken from signs which were very saturated but, over time, had become a little bit more muted. It’s architectural in the way that we’ve taken shapes and used cutouts around them and negative space.
What materials are you primarily working with? It’s a mix. I mean, our collections are always chock-full of so many different textures, prints, colors — it’s not like I picked one material and said, “OK, we’re going to do scuba-inspired.” It’s really kind of all over the place in a very interesting way.
Do you design with a specific consumer in mind? A Lela Rose girl? That’s always been Reese Witherspoon for me — she’s from the South, likes to look feminine. At this point, we know our customer: What she wants is something new and different, something she hasn’t thought of. We don’t radically change styles from season to season. You know you’re going to get some color — that you know for sure.
What excites you during Fashion Week? I love how the whole city gets around and everyone gets so excited. I’m so jaded by this point, I don’t have the same excitement, but I look at people and say, “Wow, you get so excited!” It’s infectious.
Any big stressors during Fashion Week? The day of the show is kind of stressful, just because there are so many people around asking you questions and you have to go from one thing to the next. As much as you may feel confident in your collection, you know – what if a model falls or a zipper rips?
What are your thoughts about creating in NYC? Honestly, I think it’s essential to be in New York. If you’re going to be in fashion, yes you can be in L.A. or maybe a handful of other places, but you’re going to have a tough time. I love this city — I’ve lived here 20 years and I get so much from it. I love the energy, creativity ... that I can bike around the entire city.
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