The Designer Files: Rachel Roy Yesterday and Today

939 768 Shannon Yoachum

Influenced by women who are strong, creative and lead their own path, Rachel Roy is known for creating collections that make a woman feel confident. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to find out even more about the designer’s lines and what’s to come!

Is there a particular designer that was your inspiration to starting your own line? I have always been a student of fashion, constantly being influenced by ‘the greats,’ but it was real women that inspired me to start my own line. I saw, and knew, a lot of women who were living like me–work and family–and trying to balance it all. I started my own line to give them a voice in what they wore– clothes that were strong and feminine with an edge.

How have your collections grown since the launch of Rachel Roy New York in Spring 2005? The collection started simply in 2005. It was a small team with an entrepreneurial spirit. The Rachel Roy Collection has grown to include not only amazing wear-to-work dresses but evening-out dresses as well. We have also expanded our separates and knits this season. We have forged strong relationships with our retail partners, learning what the customer wants next and how she reacts to what we are currently doing–it’s like my little research lab! And we are never done growing; I already have a million ideas for our next project!

Which collection stands out as one of your favorites to have worked on? They have all been inspiring experiences. Some have taught me different lessons. For instance, when I first started designing, it was about finding my voice. As my line progressed, it was about refining and developing those signature details. More recently the collections have been about experimentation, but all of them are favorites because in each one I took risks. That’s a foundation of fashion that teaches and helps us grow.

When did you decide it was time to launch another line, RACHEL Rachel Roy? I love telling the story of the Rachel Roy woman and was excited to tell a new story when we launched RACHEL Rachel Roy in 2009. This was an opportunity to create something very special in department stores–affordable fashion that is smart and cool. We launched sportswear, footwear, handbags, and jewelry with the RRR Line, and that gave me a huge canvas to create and innovate for this customer. I really wanted to take her on a journey to expose her to things she may have not seen before in fashion.

Do you have a favorite piece in your Fall 2011 collection? Mixing prints, textures, and silhouettes is something that I love to do. It is the foundation of my collection and signature. I think Look #3 from fall really embodies that principle and creates a gorgeous but interesting look. I love it when my work is gorgeous, but it really need to have that twist of interesting. That’s where the mixing of prints and the balancing of elements plays well.

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What should we expect to see in your Spring 2012 collection? The inspiration for this season’s collection is vintage Vietnam with a hint of European elegance and romantic minimalism. I wanted to capture the essence of women based on the era of Colonial Vietnam in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The era where women explored and broke tradition. I wanted to capture that type of woman and the clothes I see her wearing. Soft suiting was an important theme as it embodies strength and confidence as well as femininity. I love the contradiction of hard and soft, masculine and feminine. This season is about modernizing the suit. A soft deconstructed silhouette for a summery look. An elongated and relaxed shape featured in a refined color palette of cool pastels accented with fresh hints of cinnamon and blue glass greens. The looks are counter balanced by graphic black and whites and floral prints, all of which modernizes the Rachel Roy woman.

If you could give an upcoming designer some advice about starting a line, what would it be? You have to follow what you think is right and never compromise. Authenticity is key and people want brands that they can identify with and trust. They want something that creates something special for them. As a designer, you want to help expose them to something they may not encounter in their everyday life. Staying true to your vision is key. I’ve built my brand around this concept. Building a strong team has helped me immensely. Know your strengths and weaknesses. The most important piece of advice–have a little faith. Don’t get discouraged: it’s a journey, not a race!

Do you have plans to expand your line even more? My team and I are constantly working on new ideas and ways to expand. We are working on two new categories for the Rachel Roy line that will show in 2012, and I just finished work on an eye shadow palette that will debut in November. Beauty is something that I have always been interested in, and I had a great time developing this day-to-night palette of colors. I think I tried it on every girl in the office to make sure it was right!

Shop her collection here!

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