One look at Tracy Reese’s spring 2010 collection proves why the designer’s style, based in New York’s chic Meatpacking District, continues to turn heads on and off the runway. Reese’s latest assemblage pays homage to French painter Pierre Bonnard love affair with color.
Cobalt-blue Capri pants meet canary-colored dresses and flattering separates that ease from relaxed to form-fitting. The line is no surprise to Reese’s loyal customers who expect her wearable fashions to be fun and feminine with a sophisticated flare.
It’s also no surprise that first lady Michelle Obama, who often professes her penchant for American designers, is among Reese’s legions of fans. So smitten is Mrs. Obama with Reese’s eye for detail and creativity that she wore one of the Detroit-born designer’s dresses on a 2009 People magazine cover.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Reese reacted to the First Lady’s choice of a $395 pink lace “Kimono” dress.
“I’m appreciative because it means I have an opportunity to dress her,” Reese said. “It also means a lot to women across the country that they can also afford something the first lady is wearing.”
Teri Agins, a Wall Street Journal columnist and longtime fashion writer and critic, acknowledges owning about 10 Reese designs. “Tracy has a modern vintage style,” says Agins. “Every year there’s something different — interesting cuts, very fresh prints, lots of embellishments, details and buttons.”
Agins says that, long before Michelle Obama wore Reese’s designs, the 45-year-old designer was already well known in New York’s fashion circles. “All those magazines that show affordable clothing, she got into very early,” says Agins, who wrote the book, ‘The End of Fashion.’ “Tracy has been in fashion for a long time. This is not some neophyte. She has a following.”
Reese moved to New York in 1982 after graduating from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. After graduating from the Parson’s School of Design in 1984, she apprenticed under designer Martine Sitbon while working for a small firm, Alequin. At 23, she launched her own firm, but closed it after two years when the business failed to generate enough revenue, she said in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily. In 1998, 10 years after her first start-up and working for top fashion houses such as Perry Ellis, Reese launched her own collection.
Since her debut, Reese has created two additional lines: Frock! and Plenty by Tracy Reese. Her designs have expanded into several brand categories, a footwear line and a home collection. In addition, Reese has collaborated with several top brands including Sally Hansen, Hue and most recently, a line of footwear, Plenty by Tracy Reese for Keds. Reese’s designs are sold in major department stores and specialty boutiques, as well as in retail shops throughout Europe and Asia.
“She is succeeding on a world stage,” says Agins, who adds that Reese is involved in every aspect of each new line. “Her hands are on those clothes.”
Article text written by: Bonnie Davis>