Tracy Reese was a prominent American designer before first lady Michelle Obama wore her printed silk dress to deliver a keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Yet, with that custom frock, Reese catapulted to a new level of acclaim. On a recent Sunday, evidence of her important perch in the upper echalons of a status-conscious industry was very clear.
Long, snaking lines of eager fans and fashion professionals weaved into her Fall 2013 New York Fashion Week show, patiently waiting to see what Reese had come up with next.
A fashion veteran who started her eponymous line in 1996, Reese has become a style star with runway presentations that are now essential places to be seen. And of course, enjoy fabulous fashion.
Just ask acclaimed actress Angela Bassett, who watched Reese’s latest collection from the front row. She was a prime witness to its themes, colors and forms, which blended futuristic animal prints and sparkling fabrics with traditional separates such as mini dresses.
“I saw a lot that I liked in it,” the stunning 50-something star said, adding a jubilant laugh. “There’s a lot that a mature woman such as myself could rock.”
The screen siren, sporting a Tracy Reese jacket from a previous season, detailed with a studied eye her sartorial highlights of the show.
“I really loved the cropped pants in the animal print with the insert of the leather on the inner leg, and the sweaters, and the coats,” Bassett elaborated as we walked from the studio into Fashion Week’s swirl. “I loved the coats, the leather jackets, like the chartreuse coat for that real pop. That sort of came out of nowhere for me. I was like, ‘ooooo!’ But I loved it. Just eye-catching. I saw a lot of stuff that I loved. But I always do.”
Reese’s intense colors — hot, hot pink, searing dots of red — were eye-catching yet also extremely well deployed. Each punchy hue was balanced with grounding dark shades. Her confections also blended bright flourishes and rich textures.
Paisley, lace, sequins and tulle merged into sensual silhouettes that were sporty and sexy. The overall effect offered an aura of high glamour that could easily be integrated into any woman’s wardrobe through incorporating a few striking pieces.
Kanayo Ebi, stylist for Angela and Diggy Simmons, was impressed by the collection’s versatility.
“It was amazing, her use of color, prints, and just the mix of everything,” Ebi, who has also worked with R&B singer J. Cole, told theGrio. “There is something for day, for nighttime. It was just a fun collection.
“The use of sequins, prints, leather. She incorporated everything,” she added.
In this preview of her fall looks, Reese did display a remarkable array of elements. Textiles ranged from plaids to florals, from sleek to metallic, from faux fur to elaborately beaded.
Jackets and coats, staples of a cool weather closet, were sent down the runway in dizzying variety. One favorite was a semi-deconstructed, two-toned motorcycle jacket with zippers creatively placed at seams, partially undone, giving the coat the charming appearance of slyly peeling off the body.
Despite such heady constructions, the young ladies parading Reese’s wares strutted with a casual attitude — one holding a cat — and were clearly having fun. Their garments glistened under the hot stage lights, but there was mystery in these intricate forms.
It was Reese’s intention to bring this level of drama.
“For Fall 2013, I combined a variety of rich textures and both feral and romantic patterns for a collection of sexy silhouettes with an emphasis on hourglass dresses, longer slim skirts, sweater tunics and bold, meaty jackets and coats,” she said in a statement released to theGrio. “This collection is very much inspired by New York with all its harshness and beauty. Black in all of its magnificence from deep velvety darkness to textured patent refraction anchors a palette highlighted by scarlet, cerise, teal, aubergine, tan and lychee.”
She complemented her penetrating ensembles with simple accessories essential for urban women on the go: cat eye sunglasses, slouchy hats, and low boots, so easy for a midday walk.
What more could an urban glamour girl want?
Angela Simmons, in electric tones mixed in effortless style, epitomized Reese’s vibrant customer as she ran backstage to salute the designer on another triumphant show. Cute and energetic, she could have been any stylish girl next door as she joined the throng of well-wishers collecting where the last look of the afternoon disappeared behind the backdrop.
“[T]here’s a lot for the younger set who like a lot of different textures and fabrics and her mixture of them,” Bassett agreed about Reese’s Fall 2013 fashion vision.
Yet there will always be pieces in every Tracy Reese collection for keen, timeless beauties such as herself and the first lady.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.