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designer profile: Tracy Reese

Architect of the Infinite Spring

Tracy Reese’s clothes tell a story. They remind you of the time you crept into your mother’s room, rummaged through her trunk full of enchanting threads and covered yourself in pearls and all things lace. As you awkwardly walked to the mirror in those 4-inch heels to rejoice in your fashion achievement, a warm smile spread across your face.

Women around the world flock to the Detroit native for her ultra feminine creations. Reese has spent over ten years designing for the woman who simply loves being a girl. “The Tracy Reese woman is an ageless and modern woman,” she said. “I design for global women who are intelligent, nostalgic, worldly, charming and have an appreciation for luxury.” Reese’s unwavering attention to detail is evident in every stitch. At the Spring 2009 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, models sauntered down the runway draped in luxurious silk, crepe, linen, chiffon and lace. Skirts were embellished with flower cut-outs, leaves cascaded down a cropped leather jacket and printed floral motifs adorned pleated skirts. Hair was lightly swept back off the face baring pouty lips, luminous eyes and lavish chandelier earrings. Her enchanting spring collection represented the evolution of this lively season.

40 tgmlink.com | February 2009

P h o t o g r a p h y b y G E ORG E C H I N S E E

Designer, Tracy Reese, brings you back to that priceless moment when time stood still and you felt nothing less than fabulous.


Reese’s color selection is interpreted in three vignettes. The collection begins with a soft palette of eggshell whites, powder blues, nude pinks and accents of fresh ginger that set the stage for spring’s magical return. This transition of serene hues is followed by deeply saturated colors that represent the arrival of the new season. Bold graphic prints reflect the beauty of spring on tiered dresses, belted blouses and tulip skirts. “The Tracy Reese Spring 2009 collection is a brilliant progression of nature and form with delicate, yet sophisticated, pieces that emanate modern romance and strong femininity,” Reese said of her collection. “Relaxed silhouettes shift into layered and then architectural shapes, telling the story of a garden fantasy and the evolution of spring.” Reese’s vintage chic aesthetic and her ability to flatter women of various body types captivate her admirers. Reminiscent of designers Coco Chanel and Ann Taylor, Reese effortlessly accentuates a woman’s figure with a practicality that makes her clothes wearable. Grammy award-winning songstress Alicia Keys, actresses Sanaa Lathan and Cameron Diaz, and former supermodel Veronica Webb all swoon over Reese’s flirty designs. Webb told reporters that Reese brings a very sophisticated and easy elegance to a woman’s wardrobe. “Tracy Reese is for someone who wants to feel smart and comfortable, but who also wants to look incredibly polished,” she said.

Before the glitz, glam and mayhem that is fashion week, Reese’s career started at home. Her mother, Pat, would challenge Tracy and other women in the family to speed sewing competitions. The one who finished their outfit first was deemed the winner—loser paid for the fabric. Needless to say, Reese rarely did the latter. Although she took a few fashion design courses while attending Cass Technical High School, her true aspiration was to become an architect or an interior designer. Still one of Reese’s teachers thought otherwise and advised her to participate in the Parsons School of Design’s summer program in New York. Afterwards, Reese’s dreams of being an architect quickly faded. She had found her niche—fashion. She graduated from Parsons in 1984 and immediately secured a design assistant position with French designer Martine Sitbon. A few years later Reese started her own line with financial support from her father Claud. The venture proved to be unsuccessful and her line folded in 1989. She rebuilt her career over the next nine years at Perry Ellis, Gordon Henderson and as head designer at Magaschoni. In 1998, Reese relaunched her line, Tracy Reese, and added plenty by Tracy Reese the same year. “Plenty developed as the more bohemian younger sister to Tracy Reese. It is accessible designer fashion. It’s ethnic, youthful, trend driven, vacation wear that allows women to update their wardrobe seasonally,” she explained. Reese created plenty Home Collection in 2006 as an extension of the brand. “I feel like the same woman who wants to wear plenty wants that whimsical feeling to permeate throughout all aspects of her life.” This spring Reese cultivates a new vision by introducing the Tracy Reese Black Label.

Reese’s inspirations stem from the world around her. However, music is critical to her creative process. “I am constantly listening to music. Some artists that inspire me are Alicia Keys and Feist,” she said. Reese continues to keep her vision clear. Her clothes emit a demure sexiness that easily transitions the fashion forward woman from an after work cocktail to a black tie affair. In a world where you’re only as good as your last collection, Reese manages to stay relevant. “I think I have been lucky to become a mainstay in the fashion industry because I continue to develop a strong philosophy by staying true to my specific point of view,” she said. Reese’s commitment to truth is not limited to the catwalk. She recently joined more than 25 designers including Alexander Wang, Narciso Rodriguez and Diane Von Furstenberg in Runway to Change. It is a coalition of designers who have created limited-edition items that display Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama’s message of change. “The opportunity to design an item for the campaign and partner with VOGUE came up and I’m passionate about this candidate. I knew I needed to be participating and not just watching and hoping for the best,” she said. Tracy Reese makes women salivate over her designs as if they were subjects in a Pavlovian study. Her pieces are not fashion staples, but essentials. As Reese prepares to unveil her Fall 2009 collection it may be best to keep your eye to the future. Decades from now your daughter will be donning this 2009 vintage in front of the mirror. by naimah jabali-nash

The Green Magazine | 41


Tracy Reese