University apparel design senior Ella Rose is one of 19 designers showcasing collections at New Orleans Fashion Week this season. Rose will debut her work at 4 p.m. on March 3 at The Saratoga. the Daily Reveille sat down with Rose as she prepares for the big day.
The Daily Reveille: What served as the inspiration for your Fashion Week collection?
Ella Rose: It started out with a painting of poppies I made and evolved from there. I’m inspired by ’60s silhouettes and love stories like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Roman Holiday.”
TDR: When did you decide fashion design was the right path for you?
ER: Freshman year, I started out [as] a studio art major, but I hated my photography class. So I went from a merchandising minor to a merchandising major. Eventually I ended up in apparel design. It flowed oddly, but it worked out.
TDR: How long have you worked as a designer?
ER: I took my first sewing class in the spring of my sophomore year. I took two sewing classes at once, so I was working with my sewing machine every morning. That really helped me learn quickly and get on the ball with things.
TDR: Who is your style icon?
ER: I love Twiggy. ... If I had to say a current celebrity, well, most of my friends say I look like Zooey Deschanel. Our personal styles seem to be similar, as well.
TDR: Which fashion designers inspire you most?
ER: I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Prabal Gurung lately; he’s about to release a collection for Target. I got the opportunity to meet him at Teen Vogue’s Fashion University program.
Marc Jacobs always knows how to put on a show, that’s something I aspire to do.
Lela Rose, Chanel and Givenchy are great, too. I pay attention, but I don’t want to pay too much attention because I don’t want everyone else’s ideas taking up too much space in my mind.
TDR: Tell me more about your screen printing process.
ER: I stretch a piece of silk screening across an embroidery hoop, then I sketch my design on it. Once the design is perfect, I take Modge Podge [a paint-like craft sealer] and cover the negative space with it. Then I let it dry and lay it on the fabric I want printed, then I squirt a little paint onto the screen and take a gift card and scrape the paint around until it covers all the space I want it to. When I pick up the hoop, the paint will only be on the places I didn’t put Modge Podge on.
TDR: What are your future plans?
ER: If I have any buyers interested after Fashion Week, I will probably work with them. If not, I’ll put everything into a portfolio and apply for a few design jobs. I’d like to send my portfolio to J.Crew. I want to move to New Orleans to start out. If I go to New York, I’ll be a small fish in an enormous pond.
TDR: What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
ER: Keep going. Don’t let your fears get to you. If there’s something you aren’t good at, just take another class.
TDR: Which of the garments from your collection are you most proud of?
ER: I haven’t even made some of the garments I think will turn out to be my favorites! So far, I love any piece with my poppy pattern and my gold and black brocade jacket.
TDR: What other design opportunities have you had?
ER: I also worked with designer Andrea Loest in her studio last summer while she was creating two collections: “Fair Fit,” a collaboration with Paul Estin, and “Andrea Loest,” a more avant-garde collection. She really taught me a lot about the process of a collection and lots of cool surface design techniques.
TDR: How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
ER: It really depends on the piece. I can throw a simple skirt together in a day, but more complicated pieces can take quite a while. With the petal skirt over there, I had to construct each piece and screen print it. Fitting the garments makes everything more time-consuming.
TDR: How do you select your models?
ER: I’m really picky. ... I like tall, slender models. A model is like a walking hanger, they have to be able to sell your clothes. Taylor Swift would probably be an ideal model for me.
TDR: What are some of your favorite clothing stores/catalogs/websites?
ER: Modcloth.com, Anthropologie and J.Crew are a few of my favorites. I worked at J.Crew for about a year and a half. I would love to get the chance to design for them someday.
TDR: What do you like best about designing clothes?
ER: I like to be able to take art and make it wearable. I like making people feel beautiful. When a model twirls and spins around when she’s wearing one of my garments, I feel like I’ve done my job.
TDR: What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
ER: I’m having a lot of fun with brocade right now, but I love tweeds. I usually work with cotton for my screen printing. Sometimes I hand-paint the garments, other times I’ll screen print the design.