In just two short years, rising New York designer Rosie Assoulin has established her own label and won plaudits for sophisticated yet sensuous clothes that sacrifice nothing to comfort. The 30-year-old young mother from Brooklyn, who spent just months at formal fashion school, first started experimenting with fabric and design on her grandmother's sewing machine at the tender age of 13.
One of her first mentors was jewelry designer Roxanne Assoulin, her future mother-in-law. She later interned with the late Dominican-American fashion legend Oscar de la Renta before spending a year at Lanvin in Paris. "I saw her working when she was 14. She always had it," her mother-in-law told AFP backstage at her fashion week show, held at a public swimming pool -- emptied of water -- in Greenwich Village.
Another fond memory came a few years later, when Roxanne spotted what Rosie was wearing to a party. "She made it that afternoon. She had no threads so she used all the threads from the hotel, all different colors. She would make a dress that would have 18 colors on it," she said. With her jet black hair and Mediterranean look, Rosie is a product of a family from all over the place and growing up in one of the most cosmopolitan cities on earth.
As a child she says she admired the singer Dalida for her music but also her multicultural outlook -- influences that have helped inform her identity and her sophisticated, yet edgy brand. It is her mother-in-law, Oscar de la Renta and her time at Lanvin under the instruction of Alber Elbaz, which instilled her with precision and creativity. In 2013, she struck out alone with a first collection: wearable clothes made out of comfortable materials that come with allure thanks to impeccable craftsmanship.
Assoulin says she wants to give women clothes that express their complexity and individuality. "I try to relate to it personally because if it's not personal then why are you doing it. There's no such thing as one woman," she told AFP. Her fashion mirrors the designer: intelligent and feminine, but without ostentation.
"She always surprises me because she has a vision," says Roxanne Assoulin, who helps out with the collections. "Sometimes, we can't see the vision while we're doing the styling. But she always knows what she wants and she's very clear in her head about what she wants and how she wants it to be. "And when I see it all together I alway start crying because she just has a vision," she said.
But none of Roxanne's influences are recognizable in the end product, she says because Rosie "tries to take it and then change it." This year Rosie Assoulin won an award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and now sells her clothes in New York's most exclusive department store, Bergdorf Goodman, as well as in Paris.
Her New York fashion week collection embodied her DNA: original clothes that are simple and use color sparingly, not made to stand out whatever the cost. There were dresses and long skirts and very wide trousers. She experimented with swimwear, she says, such as what the top of a bikini would look like on a dress.
"It still feels very new and exciting and scary," she told AFP. "I hope that doesn't go away and that we can keep enjoying it. I think that pushes you, the attention, and that it's healthy." (Thomas Urbain, AFP )
Image: AFP Photo/Andrew Toth