Amber Valletta never thought “fashion designer” would be part of her résumé.
This story first appeared in the July 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
It is now. The 35-year-old model and actress is collaborating with the Los Angeles-based Monrow contemporary sportswear brand to launch her own apparel collection, which is called Amber Valletta for Monrow. The line will launch at retail in November and will be shown to buyers at the upcoming Intermezzo trade show in New York.
“I never thought about designing at all,” Valletta said. “If anything, maybe I would have done some kind of a children’s line because I love shopping with my son.”
Valletta said when she was introduced to Monrow’s founding designers, Michelle Wenke and Megan George, through mutual friends, the connection was clear and she knew she wanted to work with them in some capacity. The result, she said, is a full collection of contemporary sportswear that includes tissue-thin T-shirts and tanks for easy layering; day dresses that easily can be dressed up for evening events; a romper (which Valletta said she insisted upon adding since she “lives in them”); a classic tailored blazer; a fleece printed hoodie; a cape accented with fringe detail, and a smoking jacket. There are also two scarves in the line.
Wenke said the color palette of navy, cream, black, light gray and pale blush with accents of silver and gold are meant to be subdued, so the details in the clothing stand out. The collection wholesales from $65 to $80, with the occasional higher-end item, which would wholesale for about $600.
“I’m not interested in making clothes that are not accessible,” Valletta said. “Sometimes it feels like it hurts when you make a big purchase, so I really believe that the more expensive things should be gems that you keep in your closet, not trends.”
Wenke said after working with Valletta on this first collection, she and George know they will continue the partnership going forward. “We’ve already started working on next season,” she said.
Valletta said she has learned a lot from the partnership. “I have discovered that I have an aesthetic and a point of view, and I do know what looks good on different bodies,” she said. “I can really appreciate the design process and we have put so much into making each item look right and fit many different body types. I have a whole new level of respect for the industry.”
Wenke and George started Monrow in 2007 as a knit-based contemporary brand. Today, the brand is sold in high-end specialty stores including Ron Herman, Intermix, Bergdorf Goodman, Curve and Shopbop.com.
Valletta joins a group of other models who have dabbled in the fashion business: Elle Macpherson has a line of lingerie; Kate Moss has her apparel line at Topshop, and Christy Turlington previously had her Nuala yoga apparel line with Puma. That brand was discontinued in 2007.
In addition to her new role as a designer, Valletta will appear in the film “The Spy Next Door” next year, alongside Jackie Chan, George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus. Her other screen credits include “Gamer,” which will be released in September; “Days of Wrath”; “The Last Time”; “My Sexiest Year”; “Transporter 2”; “Hitch,” and “Man About Town.”