Monday, 16 February 2009

Roving Reporter: Lela Rose

It seems like Jason Wu discovered Texas born Lela Rose’s secret to success. Figured it out yet? Lela Rose first catapulted to fame after designing outfits for Jenna and Barbara Bush for their father’s inauguration. Okay, so it’s not as great as designing for the ever so stylish First Lady Michelle Obama, but the exposure was definitely great in introducing the world to Rose’s beautiful feminine designs.

Rose is best known for her embellishments and femininity. Embellishments and beading did not appear in the collection but femininity was clearly evident. Dresses were all nipped in the waist creating classic feminine silhouettes. Even over thick jackets and multiple layers, girls did not lack the playful girliness that Rose is known for. Dresses teamed with waist belts had interesting folds on the neckline making them the perfect outfit to wear to take you from the office to an evening function.

However, the collection was a lot harder than what we expect from Rose. Despite the obvious femininity of the collection, Rose included stronger features like the architectural neckline on the grey dress and combined clashing prints and fabrics. Dresses were layered with chunky knit cardigans and coats were given boxy cuts to juxtapose the femininity of the dresses and give a harder edge.

One of the main interpretations I heard about the show was that it had a strong utilitarian feel.  Grey generally lends itself to a utilitarian look, particularly when teamed against the prints and interesting fabrics Rose presented. Several of the dresses and coats had large pocket detail, adding to this theme.

Rose cited Africa as one of her influences joking that the women of the collection is "Jane Goodall if she were chic,” a woman who studied Chimps in Africa.  Although there were no signs of Africa in the shapes or the garments, Rose did deliver a colour palette evidently influenced from there. Shorts and dresses came in deep earthy colours like dark green and burnt gold. Channelling her influence of Africa through her colour palette was a lot more effective and thoughtful approach; a lot more interesting than other designers that have cited this as their influence but went down the safe and boring route of presenting ‘African’ as only tribal prints.

Evening dresses were also a strength of the collection and demonstrated Rose’s good eye and attention for detail.  Folds on the purple dress is only one of the many examples of how Rose uses what at first looks like simple techniques but on second look are a lot more intricate and special than what one first thought.  

The collection produced stand out day and evening looks proving that you are a safe from day to night in Lela Rose’s hands.



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