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Design, Lifestyle

Fashion Designer Tracy Reese Has Plenty Going On

October 28, 2019
designer tracy reese hope for flowers launch

Of all the fashion designers I’ve admired, Tracy Reese holds a special place in my closet. Back in the 90s when she launched her eponymous brand and her diffusion line Plenty, it was novel to discover a woman designer who was young, gifted and Black like me.

Her clothes were always joyful, with exuberant color and lush fabrics such as colorful silks that evoked India. I bought everything of hers that fit. My most treasured piece is a turquoise silk dashiki embellished with African beads and cowrie shells; I keep it wrapped up like a wedding dress so it lasts forever.

So when I had a choice this Wednesday between going to Napa to meet a big name cult winemaker or Anthropologie Palo Alto to meet Reese, it was no contest.

Reese greeted me warmly “Hi I’m Tracy,” with a big smile and handshake that ended with a little squeeze.  Dressed in a black sleeveless dress with white lacing in back, ornate Mexican silver earrings, and furry slides, she looks like one of my fashionable Michigan cousins.

Reese came to the West Coast to debut her new capsule collection Hope for Flowers, and talk about all the changes she’s made in the past couple years. She moved her design business to Detroit, her hometown, after parting ways with her longtime backer. As she discussed in a recent New York Times piece they disagreed on the direction the business should take, so she dissolved the Tracy Reese brand.

“The release from that has been so cathartic for me,” Reese said, during her interview with Rebecca Brown, senior editor of shopping at PopSugar. “It’s given me time to think about how I wanted to focus my time and energy going forward.”

Through her work on the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, she did a virtual residency in sustainability. That led her to thinking about how she could build a sustainable brand with living wages and eco-friendly textiles that are made to last instead of being discarded quickly.

 “When I design for fall, I’m pining for spring.”– Tracy Reese

The result is Hope for Flowers, and she turned to Anthropologie, her partner for 20 years, for the launch.”I believe in slow and steady growth. I believe in relationships and friendships,” said the designer, whose best friend Terrie took photos with fans.  The collection is understated, with graceful, feminine lines, lots of vintage details and of course, flowers. The deep colors and greens feel right for cool weather, but can transition. “When I design for fall I’m pining for spring,” Reese said. “That green is still living in my heart.”

The black corset dress Reese wore (the Maria!) is made from organic cotton; so is the white Victorian-style blouse with openwork framing the bodice. Other pieces are from ethically sourced silk, cupro and lyocell. The pieces cost a bit more than her, but are made to be treasured and worn for years.

Hope for Flowers isn’t 100% sustainable yet; there are so many steps to sort out from the cotton being grown, harvested, milled into fabric, dyed, cut and sewn. Currently, everything is made in China at a factory Reese has worked with for a while. She’s seen how they treat and pay their workers so she feels comfortable working with them. But she wants to shift some of the line’s creative work to Detroit, by employing sewers from Flint and other locals for finishing work like embroidery or custom fabric from Detroit Denim.

Between the openness she’s found working in the Midwest, and getting off the hamster wheel of shipping out new clothes every month and doing seasonal shows, Reese is feeling renewed. “When you open the door all the creativity floods in,” she said. “I’ve come to a particular time when I’m not afraid to slow it down. I want to enjoy the process more.”

And then the crowd dissolved into exploring the collection, nibbling more cheese and charcuterie from the gorgeous spread created by Terrain Cafe and trying things on. The Maria dress is a heavy cotton duck that could work year round, with short boots in fall or sandals in summer. As I was leaving long after the event ended, I noticed that Reese was still there, thanking store associates and doling out hugs and selfies.

Here are some of my favorites from Reese’s new line exclusively sold at Détroit is the New Black and Anthropologie; look for new pieces coming soon.

hope for flowers tracy reese maria midi dress anthropologie

 

 

Design, Pop Culture, Shopping

Like I Said … Keep Calm and Drink Bubbly

April 22, 2013
keep calm drink bubbly

keep calm champagne

This really doesn’t need much text; the sentiment expressed is quite self-explanatory. In fact, I’m a bit chagrined I didn’t think of this myself. Bubbly is an instant mood tonic, and I’ve been encouraging everyone to enjoy the Bubbly 365 lifestyle for a while now.

This adorable poster from the Keep Calm Shop on Etsy is pretty in pink, as well as a range of other vivid shades like gold, turquoise and emerald, because they want you to be happy. The poster is just $16 retail, which is the same price as a decent bottle of domestic U.S. sparkling wine, cava, or prosecco, but alas just a glass of champagne.

Design, Lifestyle

Find Wine Country Design Inspiration at Napa’s Brown Estate

January 26, 2012

There’s a certain similarity about most winery tasting rooms. There’s a tasting bar, bottles of wine waiting to be taken home and hopefully a picturesque view.

Few tasting rooms are sources of design inspiration, but Brown Estate in the remote section of Napa called Chiles Valley, is a striking exception. Before my visit, I admired the winery for their elegant cabernet sauvignons and juicy zinfandels that don’t knock you out with the first sip. But now I’m loving the design savvy of Coral Brown, who’s also the family-owned estate’s wine educator.

The subterranean tasting room is done in luxurious and soothing shades of brown. Each detail in the cozy retreat could easily be found in the lobby of a boutique hotel. If you want to incorporate this look into your own dining room or parlor you’re in luck, as many of the key pieces can be found at Restoration Hardware.

The tasting bar here was an elevated concrete topped table with convenient purse hooks. We sat on metal Vintage Toledo Bar Stools, topped with fluffy free-form lamb throws, kind of like those flokati rugs. A massive armoire filled with wine and decorated with objéts like an overside letter B, a Chinese ginger jar and chalkboard with the day’s tasting selections dominated the area. But the most striking feature of this area is the Adirondak Antler 6-Arm Chandelier, which is crafted from resin.

A barrel pendant lamp casts a soft glow over a high table ringed by armless leather counter chairs draped in warm faux fur throws.

Soft lighting from a Barrel Shade Pendant light and the ring of Army Duck No. 10 Grommet Drapery created a cozy place for tasting wines along with perfectly-paired cheeses. Another elevated table is ringed by Hudson Camelback Leather Counter Stools draped in Luxe Faux Fur Throws.