Exclusive: One-on-One with Rachel Roy

Karen Alfonso , 18 Oct 2012
Rachel Roy
Rachel Roy

Rachel Roy is a designer that actually understands what women want – fuss-free clothing that embraces their curves. She was probably the one who kick-started America’s love affair with bright juicy hues that are omnipresent in almost all her collections. Her designs have been worn by Michelle Obama, Cameron Diaz, Halle Berry and closer to home by Freida Pinto and Kareena Kapoor. TeamMissMalini chanced upon a special chat with her.

Rachel Roy Spring/Summer 2013
Rachel Roy Spring/Summer 2013

Team MissMalini:  Bold colour is your signature. Is it partly because of your Indian heritage?

Rachel Roy: Growing up with an Indian father I was always exposed to vibrant and rich colors and it encouraged me to experiment with color and different color combinations. Color is such an important statement to me – it symbolizes optimism, good energy and can instantly change your mood for the better.

Layering a cardigan over a dress plays with the silhouette
Layering a cardigan over a dress plays with the silhouette

TeamMM:  What’s the one item in your wardrobe that’s a go-to?

RR: It’s usually a dress but there’s always a twist to it. I might layer a sweater coat over it – I love playing with the proportion of a slinky dress with an oversized sweater coat or cardigan. Or when it gets colder out I layer a turtleneck underneath my dresses so I can wear them year round.

TeamMM:  How do build your collection? Where do you seek inspiration from?

RR: Each collection starts with a specific inspiration, a story, and builds from there. I tend to be inspired by the details of things– the pleat of a skirt in an old Hollywood movie, the curve of a antique chair leg and local treasures from the places I travel.

Rachel Roy's design for Forevermark
Rachel Roy's design for Forevermark

TeamMM:  Could you talk to us about your collaboration with the diamond brand Forevermark?

RR: I was drawn to working with Forevermark because each of their diamonds is inscribed with a promise that it is beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced. I designed a body chain for their ‘A Promise Shared’ campaign which urges us all to fulfill promises to loved ones, friends, charities or even ourselves. That sentiment really resonated with me. I was inspired by my heritage to design a body chain which, to me, is equal parts sexy and simple. It’s something feminine and delicate that wraps around your body so it’s an intensely personal piece that women wear for themselves.

Deepak Chopra & Rachel Roy
Deepak Chopra & Rachel Roy (photo courtesy | tonic.com)

TeamMM:  You’ve collaborated with Deepak Chopra for your jewellery line – can you tell us how that came about?

RR: I’ve been reading Deepak Chopra’s books for a number of years and was very inspired. Part of my ritual in the morning is to check Deepak’s Twitter feed – his words are always enlightening and thought provoking. I liked the idea of being able to express spirituality and his wisdom through fashion and actually reached out to him on Twitter to design with me.

TeamMM:  Do you ever plan on retailing in India?

RR: I haven’t been back to India in 20 years and it’s a place that’s been such a guiding force in my life and heritage. It’s a definitely a working trip as I unveil the Forevermark jewelry piece, visit an important slum project Children’s Hope India is working on and explore ways to expand my business and philanthropy further into India. I’m honored that my Rachel Roy line will be carried exclusively by Kitsch this Spring – they’ve been such great partners.

TeamMM:  Do you have any favorite Indian designers?

RR: Naaem Khan and Bibhu Mohapatra are friends and are very supportive.

TeamMM:  What’s next in the pipeline for your label?

RR: This Fall I launched a collection of day to night dresses – perfect for working women – and a new footwear collection. Next up are handbags and jewelry for my designer line and my love of the sea and travel to exotic destinations has inspired a capsule collection of caftans that are quite beautiful.

TeamMM:  What’s the secret to your style?

RR: I’m a bit of a chameleon. Getting dressed in the morning is an opportunity to play to how you are feeling that morning. A little sexy, rocker girl, I love it all as long as you feel like an individual – that’s my goal with how I dress and how I design for women.

TeamMM:  Can you throw light on some of your philanthropic efforts you’ve been involved with?

RR: I think that giving back is one of the most important things you can do, both personally and professionally. Margherita Missoni introduced me to OrphanAid Africa about 5 years ago and it’s been such an important experience for me. I think of the kids there often and every holiday season we do a book wrapping party to send to them. Recently, I traveled to Haiti with Martha Stewart to visit an artisan colony to develop products that to feature on my website. It gives the Haitian artisans a platform for telling their story and showcasing their amazing talents.

TeamMM: Do you think growing up in a multi- cultural environment has set you apart from your peers?

RR: I love the way both of my parent’s culture has shaped who I am. I think it made me more of a student of the world and open to new experiences and cultures.

TeamMM: How have your collections evolved from when you first started out?

RR: I started my line to help women feel effortless, exotic and elegant but always like individuals. Almost a decade later, that mission hasn’t changed.

TeamMM: Any advice for people who want to embark on a career in fashion design?

RR: The road will be harder than you expected, it may take more time you expected but it is possible to find success in fashion – just never take no for an answer.

TeamMM: Have you ever thought of doing a kids line or is that something audiences can expect?

RR: I would love to do a kid’s line. I think there’s such an art to designing for kid’s so they look like they dressing their age yet making an individual style statement. I would also love to do a maternity line – it’s one of the hardest times in a woman’s life to get dressed so easy solutions are key!

Rachel Roy with her kids
Rachel Roy with her kids (photo courtesy | NYT magazine)

TeamMM: Do you dress your daughters or do they have now have a style mind of their own? if so how different are their choices from mommy?

RR: My 12 year old is my downtown girl and I love to see how she mixes my RACHEL Rachel Roy line into her wardrobe. She has this effortlessly cool way of pairing things together. My 4 year old is very girly and proper so they couldn’t be more different. My 4 year old likes when I put together looks for her – the 12 year old doesn’t need my help!

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