With a sewing machine and a fashion dream, designer Lorie Lester opened her own clothing store and studio this last October, just steps from the Design District. At only 27, the Miami native knows what's she's doing despite being an unusual age and gender for owning an independent business in South Florida.
Lester's clothes are both fun and stylish, made for a working woman who knows well the struggle of transitioning from day to nighttime wear. Of her customers, she says they're "all confident. Everyone loves to show a certain part of their body." Lester works with them to highlight their best features and at an affordable price.
Her summer line is YSL-inspired, and brings together bright colors like electric blue and bright orange. She says, it's "all about not exactly matching." You'll be seeing a lot of cut-outs on dresses, bare backs, and high-waisted skirts with crop tops at Beautiful Villains this Thursday.
Cultist: How long have you been a designer for? Did you go for school for fashion?
Lorie Lester: Yeah, I went to the Art Institute here in downtown and graduated in 2005, started the line in 2007 and wholesaled to boutiques till we opened here. Well, we did a popup store for Basel in Midtown, not last Art Basel, but before, 2009, and it went really well, so we decided to open up here. In October, we opened.
People can come here and you do custom fittings? How does that work?
We cut and sew everything in-house, so basically if you see something, a style that you like, you want another fabric or if your size isn't here, we can make it for you. It takes a couple days. Also, we can do alterations, if you want to take something in or make something shorter.
Do you do all the designs yourself?
I design everything.
What makes the event next week special?
Well, the event's going to be really cool because first of all, all the people who are modeling are actually friends and family, so it's really going to have a realistic, cool, laid-back vibe. It's going to be a lot of fun, it's nothing stuffy. The venue is great, it's a new place The Stage in the Design District, that is really cool. It's just kind of like really real, and not an uptight scene, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
We're showing our new summer collection, so it's going to be lots of brights and '70s-inspired silhouettes and prints and stuff like that.
So, you'll be showing different body types?
Is that something that's important to you?
Definitely, that's kind of one of the main reasons why I like that we opened up this space. You know, everybody has a different body type and it's hard to just go to a store and be like, "oh, this fits perfectly." It hardly ever happens. So, I would like to be able to work with customers one on one, for them to come in and be like, "well, I'm kind of short and I need this hem to be shorter" or "I need this to be taken in." We can do all these adjustments. So, it's nice to be able to work with people like that.
Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
Absolutely, one of my best-sellers is the one shoulder dress, which is really cool, and we'll be showcasing in the fashion show. It's one shoulder and its knit. It works great with all body types, and we like to do a little belt loop, where it's like through the one shoulder so you can belt it, and it creates a really nice silhouette.
You started all of this on your own?
Yeah, basically, it all started after I graduated, I bought a sewing machine and was making stuff out of my house, my old bedroom, I hired a seamstress, got in my car and sold the line locally to local boutiques. Julian Chang was one of the first people. He also graduated from the same school as me, was really supportive and picked up the line. And, kind of just snowballed from there. I ended up getting a little bit bigger and got a studio on the beach, which was still tiny, but a step up from my bedroom, and worked out of there for three years, and that was crazy. It flew by. I got reps on the west coast, the east coast, started selling a little more in California, Virginia, up north, then ended up coming here and opening this space.
The event will include live music by the Jacuzzi Boys, food by Ms.
Cheezious, cocktails by Zignum Mezcal and Coruba Rum, and most
importantly for the teen girls, a mini-ramp skateboarding contest. Doors
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open at 10 p.m. at The Stage (170 NE 38th St., Miami).
Visit Lorie Lester at 6301 Biscayne Boulevard, or at lorielester.com.