DESIGNER INTERVIEW: Lela Rose

Sunday, May 31, 2015


Fashion Designer, Lela Rose was in town as the featured designer at the Children's Assessment Center luncheon. I was invited to interview the designer, and definitely enjoy my chat with the Dallas native. Read my interview with her below, or watch the interview here on YouTube


I read that you started off in painting and sculpture?
Yes I was a painting major in college.

Was that a lead in to your fashion career? 
For me, I've always been very creative and knew I would do something in the arts. I've always loved making things, so that was a very typical lead in. What I still love today, the most, about what I do is designing fabrics, getting textiles, and all the possibilities of what something could be. That is truly the most fun part about it. 


It's all creative; whether it's through art or designing. I consider fashion to be art because you're always making something new.  It's just another creative outlet. 
Yes it is.

You're from Dallas originally?
I am.  I've lived in New York a long time, but I'm from Dallas originally.


Do you ever miss the southern hospitality, more than life in New York?
What influences me every single season, but really influenced this whole collection is the women in Texas. I've always loved how they get dressed. They get up and get dressed and it's not like putting on sweats or something easy. They just get dressed. It's something that I've always loved. I've always loved the sense of color and how black is never the "new black" in terms of color. I've always worn color; even on  the weekends, my daughter is always in a dress and I'm usually in some easy skirt and top. I just love being dressed and I think that's always influenced me. 


You are absolutely right. One of my favorite TV shows used to be What Not To Wear with Stacy and Clinton, and one of their rules was "Get dressed to go to the grocery store, don't just throw on the sweats", and I definitely see that here. 
I think my job is to really design pieces that make women look and feel great. It starts with feeling great. If you put on something and you feel great, you greet the day in a completely different way than if you just throw on any old thing and think, "I don't want to see anyone". I just think that you feel so much better when you are dressed and you look good.


It's definitely a confidence booster to look and feel great! {Currently surrounded by fabulous Lela rose clothes so I ask about them} Are we looking at your Spring 2015 collection right now?
This is Spring (points to one rack), and this is Pre-Fall. Pre-Fall is just trickling in, but it's mostly Spring and Pre-Fall. 

A little bit of your inspiration for Spring 2015 was the idea that woman like to get up and get dressed. What else was your inspiration for the collection?
The inspiration for the Spring collection was really based on old Japanese kimonos and mixing graphics and floral, but for me, I love pieces that can take me from day to dinner. Pieces that I can wear all day long with sandals, flats, whatever and just change my shoes and jewelry.  A woman that's on the go. Our collection has an entertaining lifestyle built to it. I'm definitely the customer for it. I work all day,  but then I have luncheons. I have twenty people coming over for dinner every night and I need pieces that I can just walk in the door and get to it.  I don't need to go change and fuss over my clothing. I would say it's really that  "on the go" lifestyle that is our constant inspiration.


I totally love pieces like that; that can go from day to night. I'm very busy too. I'm an Engineer during the day and I'm always running to fashion events at night and I don't have a lot of time to stop home and change.
Right! It just takes up too much time and too much energy. You need pieces that really work. Pieces that allow you to just change your jewelry, change your shoes and feel great but are appropriate all day long. 

It's interesting that you said the Japanese Kimono was your inspiration because I actually went to the HMNS (Houston Museum of Natural Science) Samurai Exhibit a few months ago and they featured a Japanese Kimono fashion show and it was really interesting, but sad too. The host said a lot of people in Japan don't wear the traditional kimonos anymore. And I was thinking they are so beautiful and please don't get rid of that part of your culture!
I know. You see that in many cultures, people are moving away from their traditional dress and even the traditional lifestyle. There's a loss of something there for sure.


You showed your Fall 2015 collection earlier this year, but for those who haven't seen it, what can we expect for Fall?
Fall is great! There's a lot of pleated tweeds. Some really amazing fabrics involved. It's a very fun collection. It's a little bit darker than what we normally do. There's of course our bright bold color, but it's definitely a little bit darker than some of our other collections. Not darker in terms of overall feel; our collections are always feminine and pretty. There's some great cutouts, It's a cute collection.


How did you come to be associated with the luncheon today?
Well, this is really through Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus is a big partner of ours and so they asked if I would come down and do this luncheon. Of course, it turns out that I know some of the board members and  know some of the people involved in the organization just from being from Texas.

That's right, because Neiman Marcus started in Dallas, so you have that hometown connection! Just a couple more questions. Are there any celebrities that you haven't dressed yet that you would like to dress?
I would have loved to have dressed Audrey Hepburn.  Cate Blanchett, I don't know that we've ever dressed her, but I would love to dress her, I love her style. 


Do you dress celebrities more for day events or red carpet?
Well, we do both red carpet, cocktail events and the daytime events. Celebrities always have to look good. They cannot get caught going to the grocery store wearing something unattractive.

Or if they do, it's always an unfavorable reaction from the media and the public.
It's never good is it?

Never! Do you have any tips for budding fashion designers trying to get into the industry?
It's a very difficult industry. It's very difficult to break into and it's very difficult to stay in. It's something that I feel like if you really love fashion, and it's what you really feel that you want to do. You have to be persistent and you have to figure out how to put one foot in front of the next and keep going. I cannot tell you how many no's I've heard over the years and setbacks, and you just keep going, and don't take no for an answer.

Never give up!
That's true, and honestly we still have that today. People think that once you've made it to a certain point it's just easy sailing.  It's never easy sailing. You always have to learn, keep ahead of what your customer wants and what they need. You're constantly tweaking, refining and trying to get better.


Thank you so much Lela for taking the time to chat with me today! 

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