Dallas Designer’s Little Shop of Flowers and Homemade Baked Goods Makes the New York Press Swoon

How Lela Rose Slayed Fashion Week

BY // 02.25.20
photography Taylor Jewell

NEW YORK — At one time during my “obsessive listicle” phase, I kept a running directory of people whose name matched their profession. They included professional golfer Hubert Green, astronaut Sally Ride, poet William Wordsworth, tennis great Margaret Court, Houston Chronicle fashion writer Joy Sewing and Houston Post photographer Jerry Click.

Maybe I should revive the list, because there’s another name to add: Lela Rose.

I’ve always suspected the inventive Dallas-born fashion designer might be a closet gardner. In addition to creating fashion collections that often incorporate a floral theme, she has authored a well-received book, Pret-a-Party: Great Ideas for Good Times and Creative Entertaining, where she includes tips on how to make flowers, vegetables and other greenery an integral part of any great gathering.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that instead of presenting a stuffy New York Fashion Week show, Rose created a pop-up shop reminiscent of a big-time flower market, with hundreds of roses, tulips, peonies, torch ginger and other colorful blossoms tailor made for an Instagrammable moment.

“You know, we like to do different things. I’m tired of doing shows inside. So I decided we’re going to do a pop-up shop with a whole week’s long of events, where we’re literally doing cake decorating with flowers,” Rose explained.

Lela Rose at New York Fashion Week February 2020 (Photo by Taylor Jewell)
Lela Rose created a pop-up flower shop to showcase her fall ’20 collection. (Photo by Taylor Jewell)

Delighted to be attending a different kind of presentation, the fashion press mobbed the small West Village space on a gloomy February day, where they sampled shortbread cookies stamped with daffodils and pansies baked by Rose and sipped on cocktails with edible flower cubes, while models in looks from the designer’s fall ’20 collection posed for photos amid the buckets of flowers. Also attending was Rose’s mother, Deedie Rose, who flew up from Dallas for the festivities.

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Naturally, the 26-piece collection included a number of delightful florals, including a multi-colored botanical patterned dress on black crepe with a matching snood, a halter gown in a threaded fern pattern, and a green delphinium silk satin one-shoulder dress with turban sleeves. Nighttime looks incorporated a more subtle floral theme in shiny embossed metallics, delicate hand-threaded florals on tulle and a goddess gown in a pink rose shade.

Among those impressed was former Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing, who now serves as chief creative officer at Triple Five Group, the Canadian developer of Mall of America in Minnesota and the American Dream mall in New Jersey.

He noted that Rose always thinks outside of the box. During her previous New York Fashion week outings, she has hosted a fashion show on a schooner docked in the Hudson River, put on a full-scale dog show with dozens of lovable (and unpredictably behaved) canines to showcase her collection, and held an outdoor fashion show with a runway festooned with hundreds of yellow rose petals.

“Nothing binds Lela to the old norms of a how to show collections. There’s always something brilliant and unusual and delightful every season,” Downing said. “Besides being a great designer, she has a free-thinking mind.”

“Did you not mention my baking skills?” Rose teased.

“I don’t eat,” Downing responded. “But I did have a cookie.”

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