Celebrated designer, Greg LaVoi recently debuted the relaunch of the legendary Irene fashion line. Greg graciously took time to answer questions about Irene, his vision and the inspiration behind the new collection.
Be sure and check out the slideshow for a preview of the Irene by Greg Lavoi Fall 2013 collection!
For those who might not be familiar with the vintage Irene design aesthetic, what three words would you use to describe the look?
Classic, timeless, elegant
How would you describe your vision for an updated twist on the brand?
Timeless, contemporary, collectible
And your vision for an updated twist on the brand?
Made in the USA, attention to details, meticulously hand crafted
How would you compare/contrast the process of designing a look for television with designing looks for a collection?
In television costume design, I’m creating two dimensional characters and making them come to life. Often times we change a shopped, store bought look by removing a collar, or remaking a suit. For the real woman, I am creating looks for her real life. I feel the contemporary woman, the Irene girl, is tired of fast fashion, it’s time to invest in well made, luxurious suits and dresses, a fully a collectible wearable work of art.
What is the most challenging part of the design process?
Waiting for the collection to be made! I designed spring 2014 this past January. We won’t shop for fabric until April and we won’t make samples of the collection until summer to show on the runway in October…I like immediate results. In film, I’m used to designing a costume and having it built by the next day and worn on camera an hour later!
What did you learn about yourself as a designer while working on the Irene by Greg LaVoi fashion line?
There is a team at Irene, since I relaunched an existing but defunct fashion house I am considered the “design director,” I have, Emilio Anorve as Creative Director in charge of color stories, fabrication, fashion show production and Melissa Kidd as Managing Director who handles social media, marketing and press relations, finances and correspondence, all of us have hyphenated jobs so it makes the days very creative. I have always worked alone, in fact, I am an only child, so I like being the only one…having three diverse personalities and opinions can be very interesting, but we run it like a true democracy…majority rules.
Did you decide how many looks would be in the collection before you began the design process? Did any looks not make it into the line that you thought would?
Project Runway was the template for my first collection, and I wanted to do ten to thirteen pieces. But after showing select pieces to a high end department store, the buyer suggested adding more separates, so the thirteen piece collection grew to 25 looks.
Many designers have the luxury and budgets to “over design” so their collection can be edited and culled, but we showed everything that was designed. There was only one blouse that had to be remade due to changes.
What is the theme of the line and did you know what it would be before you started or did it evolve over time?
“Signature” is the theme. We wanted to pay homage to Irene’s legacy and heritage, yet look ahead to what the contemporary Irene girl would be wearing. I knew the first collection HAD to be Irene signature–how else could you show the fashion public who Irene was yet alert the world to who we will become?
Who are the designers that have inspired/influenced you?
Valentino, for his exquisite fabrics and couture standards, Tom Ford, for his contemporary, sexy esthetic, Bob Mackie, for his expertise in beaded gowns and Irene of course…
Greatest fashion advice you’ve ever received?
Keep it simple, no gimmicks
What does being brave mean to you?
As an only child, my parents told me I could do anything, be anything and they gave me the wherewithal to achieve my dreams. I’ve never been afraid to attempt the impossible. I don’t consider it bravery, perhaps just luck.
Where can my readers find out more about Irene by Greg LaVoi online?
As of now online, yes, and hopefully soon at a high end retailer near you!