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Beauty In Nature: Designer Profile on Tracy Reese (Detroit flower girl)


Her inspiration, she explains is “A feminine yet relaxed mood is achieved through the juxtaposition of romance and sport, comfort and flattery. Subtle hues of khaki and blush mixed with pastel shades of waterfall, misty blue and aqua tears gradually intensify to deep saturated tones and neon brights, making a bold splash for the transition into summer.  A drapey culotte jumpsuit in waterfall, complimented with drawstring waist and seductive neckline details, pairs with a lemon zest hat and printed platform sandals to embody the relaxed mood of the season.”

Tracy Reese pairs romance with sportswear for next spring by integrating the pastel shades of a waterfall with pops of neon and subtle shades of khaki with looks that walk the line between comfort and style. Inspired by “everything around me in nature – the sky, the clouds, the ocean.”  Tracy Reese continues to do what she does best and that is pretty cocktail dresses and wonderful separates for the woman on the go.

For S/S 2012 she presents a very cute and very wearable collection. The clothes are not trendy but definitely in time and wearable. She always has great prints and makes everything look ultra feminine bright and fun. It’s the type of collection that can be mixed and matched with so many great looks — on both the high end and the low end — that it should perform well at the cash register. Also, i can see so many different women in these looks. Reese’s patrons got a good deal — a smart, sassy show packed with the kind of clothes that put a chic glow into the contemporary department.

From her Bio on tracyreese.com     With an innate desire to create beautiful things, Detroit native Tracy Reese headed for Manhattan in 1982 to attend Parsons School of Design where she received an accelerated degree in 1984. Upon graduation, Reese apprenticed under designer Martine Sitbon while working for the small contemporary firm, Arlequin. Reese worked at some of the industry’s top fashion houses, including Perry Ellis where she was the design director for Women’s Portfolio.

In Spring 1998, Reese launched her eponymous collection to rave reviews. Perfect for the modern woman, Reese’s debut showcased ultra-feminine pieces layered with intelligent nostalgia, charm and luxury; a distinctive look that the designer has since become known for.

The designer’s second line, plenty by Tracy Reese, was introduced later that same year. A bohemian, ethnic-inspired collection that is of-the-moment, yet never trendy, plenty by Tracy Reese comprises pieces that unite myth and modernity with a rock-and-roll twist. The collection is both eclectic and adventurous, featuring Reese’s signature detailing.

In 2007 Reese was inducted as a board member of the CFDA; and over the past decade, the Tracy Reese name has become synonymous with frothy dresses and print driven heirloom fare that women across the globe can’t get enough of. Reese’s eye for detail and extensive knowledge of color, fabric and form continue to be evident each season as she consistently reveals timeless, wearable looks that evoke sophistication and elegance. Reese’s approach is deliberate, combining modern craftsmanship with vintage flair, creating a look that is clearly her own.

Both Tracy Reese and plenty by Tracy Reese have expanded into several brand categories. Tracy Reese footwear feature ladylike silhouettes in luxurious leathers with exquisite detailing; while the whimsical, feminine and eclectic, plenty brand now includes a home collection and candles. Reese added a third collection to her line up, frock!, comprised of fun and flirty occasion dresses that easily transition from day to evening.

Tracy Reese has become a mainstay in the fashion industry as she continues to develop a strong design philosophy by staying true to her specific point of view. Reese has collaborated with several top brands including Sally Hansen, Hue and most recently, a line of footwear, plenty by Tracy Reese for Keds, debuting in spring 2009.

Bright colors, unique prints and intricate patterns define Tracy Reese, plenty and frock! A consistent fashion favorite amongst industry insiders, celebrities and fashionistas alike, Reese crafts finely detailed looks that make a statement and are easy to wear, garnering the attention of the nation’s top media.

Tracy Reese, plenty and frock! are sold nationwide in top department stores and specialty boutiques as well as retailers throughout Europe and Asia.

For  the new Spring 2012 collection Tracy Reese got her  inspiration from  a land of pure delight.  Softly voluminous styles pair with lean, refined silhouettes, evolving proportions with a focus on modern fluidity.  A feminine yet relaxed mood is achieved through the juxtaposition of romance and sport, comfort and flattery. Subtle hues of khaki and blush mixed with pastel shades of waterfall, misty blue and aqua tears gradually intensify to deep saturated tones and neon brights, making a bold splash for the transition into summer.

Tracy Reese showcased her new Spring/Summer 2012 runway collection at the Lincoln Center tents, but respectfully marked the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by joining with show partners Sally Hansen and TRESemme to make donations to charity organizations Action America and Families of Freedom.

Reese’s new collection was bursting at the seams with vibrant colors, inspired, as she told me backstage while getting ready for the show, by “everything around me in nature – the sky, the clouds, the ocean.”

Pastel blues, corals and blush colors mixed with bright neons and muted khakis in a truly eclectic mix of colors, prints and fabrics to create a thoroughly modern, somewhat bohemian silhouette.

The overall look was light and feminine with an emphasis on long fluid lines. The designer said she placed a lot of focus on dresses this season. These were shown in longer lengths in drapey jerseys, lace and crepes, accessorized with laced edged cardigans, anoraks, leather jackets and loose henleys. Palazzo pants and wide legged jumpsuits echoed the comfortable and voluminous feel of the collection. Lean lines in skirts and lace shorts paired with billowy fly-away blouses and dresses and prints relied heavily on delicate floral motifs.

Reese says the line is a reflection of the modern woman and her busy lifestyle, adding she wanted to incorporate a sporty, edgy feel while maintaining a romantic, feminine look to the clothes, all while being very conscious of the pocket books of women out to buy her looks. She says dresses are an economical way to get a complete look, without having to splurge on separates.

The following images are my favorite looks from her S/S 2012 Collection:


Tracy Reese ranks as one of the fashion industry’s most successful African-American women whose realm is not relegated to the runway. In a business where few designer labels seem to make it past their fifth anniversary, Reese has two clothing lines, TR and Plenty, which have been sold at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and other top retailers since the mid-1990s. Her company’s sales topped $12 million in 2003, and it launched a Plenty-label home line that same year and a footwear collection the following. Reese has an unerring eye for what women will buy. “I don’t want to design a skirt just because a skirt is needed to go with a particular jacket,” she told Joy Duckett Cain in Essence. “The skirt itself has to make you want to buy it.”

Reese was born in Detroit, Michigan, on February 12, 1964. Her mother, Pat, was a modern dance teacher and enrolled Reese and her two sisters in weekend enrichment classes at the city’s art museum. The women in the family also liked to sew and would sometimes hold contests in which they raced to finish an outfit first. The loser had to pay for fabric, and it was here that Reese’s future career direction first emerged. “Although I generally won,” she joked in an interview with another Essence writer, Deborah Gregory, “I still spent every dime I had buying fabric.”

Spent Summer in

Reese attended Cass Technical High School, the elite public high school in the Detroit system. Students there focused on either the arts or academics and, as Reese recalled in another profile in Essence, “I actually thought I’d be an architect or an interior designer,” she told Vanessa Bush. Cass Tech, she continued, “had a fashion-design department, and I took a couple of classes, but I didn’t take it as my concentration because I thought it was kind of flaky.” But Reese was encouraged by a teacher to apply for a scholarship to a summer program for high-schoolers at New York City’s Parsons School of Design, one of the top U.S. colleges for future fashion-design professionals. She won a slot and enjoyed her summer experience, as well as New York City. After graduating from Cass Tech, she entered Parsons full-time.

Reese earned her design degree in 1984 and found a terrific job right away, as an apprentice to the French designer Martine Sitbon in New York City. She was assigned to Sitbon’s Arlequin line, and Sitbon encouraged her talents and even allowed her to sketch designs, a plum assignment for a novice. After two years on the job, Reese decided to strike out on her own, and her father Claud provided some of the start-up funds to launch her own line—a risky venture even for an experienced fashion pro. She produced two collections, both of which were well liked by store buyers, and the line was sold in stores such as Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and Ann Taylor. Reese was just 23 years old at the time. “I had the energy and the drive to run the company,” she recalled in an interview with Julee Greenberg for WWD. “I thought I knew everything, but I learned quickly that I really didn’t and knew I had to learn more about business.” She could not maintain enough revenue to meet her production costs, and was forced to close her business in 1989.

A heartbroken Reese was able to land a job with Perry Ellis Portfolio thanks to Marc Jacobs, her former schoolmate at Parsons. At the time, Jacobs was the vice president of design for the Perry Ellis women’s line, and working at a thriving design firm—one which also had its share of financial ups and downs—was instrumental in teaching Reese the business basics she needed to learn. She also teamed with sportswear designer Gordon Henderson, an African American who had worked for Calvin Klein before launching his own line in the mid-1980s. Henderson, Reese has said, was an important mentor who shared much of his own experience with her about running a successful start-up line.

Ready to Try Again

In the early 1990s, Reese won a head-designer job with new label called Magaschoni. It was owned by Magtague, a Hong Kong manufacturer that produced clothes for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, and other well-known names. She was tapped to design Magaschoni’s bridge, or mid-priced line, and it was not that exciting of a job, she later confessed in the Essence interview with Gregory. “It was definitely not my style, but I knew this was the kind of company that could provide me with major backing of my own label,” she said, and once sales hit a respectable $4 million-mark for 1991, Magtague executives gave Reese her own label, “Tracy Reese for Magaschoni.” She spent the next few years designing her collections, and even had a showroom in a building on Seventh Avenue, the center of New York’s Garment District. The line had terrific sales at retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, but Reese was still determined to run her own business again someday.

She stepped closer to that goal in 1995, when she struck a deal with mass retailer The Limited for her own line. That gave her some of the start-up funds for her new label, Tracy Reese Meridian, a contemporary sportswear line that was launched in the spring of 1996. She had learned much from her previous experience a decade before, but still struggled to meet production costs, and finally her lawyer introduced her to an accountant with ties to textile manufacturers in his native India. Om Batheja invested funds in Meridian, which eventually became just “Tracy Reese.” They then launched a more informal, free-spirited line aimed at younger customers called Plenty. By 2002 Reese had opened a corporate showroom, and sales at her company had more than doubled over the previous year to $12 million. Her collections, which grew to include resort and swimwear lines, were shown during New York Fashion Week, the series of events at Bryant Park tents onto which the world’s fashion journalists and store buyers descend to preview the next season’s looks and place store orders. Reese’s designs collections earned good reviews, and have been featured on the pages of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Lucky.

In late 2004, Reese’s company launched Plenty Home, a line of bedding, curtains, and throws that used many of the same lushly patterned Indian textiles from the original Plenty line. It seemed a natural step, she explained to WWD‘s Greenberg. “When I’m designing the line,” said Reese, “I always think about how I would love to have sheets in these fabrics, curtains in these fabrics.” Shoes and accessories came next, both of which were launched in the fall of 2005.

I’m Super Proud of my Detroit Sistah! Her Collection keeps getting better & better!


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