By  on August 18, 2014

As part of its strategy to assemble a cadre of well-established designers, Lane Bryant has lined up Lela Rose for a limited-edition line.

Enthusiastic about delving into the special-size business at retail next summer, Rose said, “I really love the idea of the democratization of fashion and being able to dress different people and at different price points. This is for certain an area that has been underserved for a while.”

Although the majority of the designs for her signature collection have not exceeded a size 14, for the Lela Rose Exclusively for Lane Bryant label the designer has incorporated her sense of style and has adapted some of her prints, such as watercolor ones. Rather than use monochromatic colors, she has opted for “easy, fun dresses,” including day-to-dinner styles in striking hues such as violet.

With a new retail concept making its debut with the October opening of Lane Bryant’s Jersey City store, the chain is in the midst of a major repositioning, according to Linda Heasley, chief executive officer. “Lela is so gifted and we love what she does with dresses,” Heasley said. “She really is the master of the dress. We know our customer will love her clothes. She is on a short slate of designers that we would like to work with.”

The effervescent New York-based designer worked with Richard Tyler and Christian Francis Roth before launching her signature line of ready-to-wear in 1998 and then unveiling Lela Rose Wedding in 2006. Having had a multiyear collaboration with Payless for footwear and accessories, the designer has proven her appeal with a national retailer in the past.

While the deal with Rose is for one year, Heasley is already hopeful that it will be extended. With the new deal with Rose, Lane Bryant has upped its designer collaboration count to three, with Sophie Theallet and Isabel Toledo being the other two. Just as their creative vision extended to look books and window displays (which for Toledo were envisioned by her husband, Ruben), Rose will offer approval beyond just clothing. “Because we see them as their own brands, we don’t want them to do anything that they wouldn’t feel proud of,” Heasley said.

Her entire line will be sold via Lane Bryant’s online store and in select stores, and two silhouettes will be sold in all 500 stores. Keen as the company is to accommodate shoppers in various regions, it will have multitiered distribution “to make it feel special. We don’t want to roll it out in too many places,” Heasley said. Rose will be making select in-store appearances to meet customers and talk about her designs.

While Rose does not expect her latest venture to open up the special-size market to a tidal wave of designers, she does hope it will help others take note. “It’s not easy to buy sizes larger than a 14 or 16 in a lot of places. Hopefully, we will see more designers doing larger sizes and stores will start thinking more broadly about what size ranges they offer,” she said.

In the meantime, Rose, who was recently interviewed by former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager for Southern Living magazine, has another project staring her down — a Sept. 8 fashion show at 9 a.m. at New York’s Lincoln Center.

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