Top women’s ready-to-wear fashion designer Nanette Lepore has never been to Raleigh, but says she feels like she already knows our capital city. Many of her interns over the years have come from N.C. State’s design school, and she knows all about Ashley Christensen’s restaurants. So when Lepore visits April 18, she says she’s eager to check out Poole’s Diner, and she’s “really, really excited” to meet her fans. There are many: Raleigh’s branch of Saks Fifth Avenue sells more of her clothes than the flagship does in New York.
“I have a kindred feeling with the women of Raleigh,” Lepore says. “I think they respond to the color and femininity I’m known for.” The designer plans to meet these folks in person at Saks at Triangle Town Center, where she’ll style customers and host a fashion show and cocktail party for the public.
Lepore says the Raleigh women who wear her clothes range in age from their 20s on up, and credits our region’s busy college social scene with strong demand for feminine dresses among the younger set. “There are always events associated with the universities,” she says, “a lot more events than there were when I was in college. I was always desperate to find something to get dressed up for. I’d have dinner parties just to get dressed up.” Today, she says, college women, particularly in the South, have it the other way around.
Lepore says she keeps these young women in mind when she designs a line, but also considers their mothers. She makes sure some dresses have sleeves, some have full skirts, and some have hems at or below the knee. And because hem lengths have become more a matter of personal preference than fashion, Lepore says she will soon begin offering skirts to order in various custom lengths on her website.
When it comes time to design her resort collection – a group of summery clothes that comes out mid-winter – Lepore says hers is “driven by the South.” That’s because warmer weather here nudges women to buy spring and summer clothes earlier than they do in other parts of the country. She’s got a certain kind of Southern woman in mind, the kind she says she meets all over the region: “They’re very put-together, and very chic, and very fashion conscious,” she says. “I think that’s refreshing.”
They’re also happy to wear feminine clothes. “I design in a more fitted, kind of curvy way,” she says, “and I think that’s something that appeals to my Raleigh woman.” -L.R.
Nanette Lepore will visit Saks Fifth Avenue at 7700 Old Wake Forest Rd. April 18. She will help fit and style customers in her designs from 12 noon – 4 p.m. by appointment only. Call 919-792-9100, ext 5343 to schedule. She will host a fashion show at 1 p.m., and a cocktail party afterward. All are open to the public.