LaVelle Olexa, founder of LaVelle & Co., was pinching herself over the turnout for the organization’s annual Christmas party last week.
Dozens of designers, former colleagues from her Lord & Taylor days, friends and their guests, as well as several members of LaVelle & Co., came to the spectacular home of Marianne Cassini in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, which has suits of armor and tapestries collected by her late husband, the designer Oleg Cassini, and other trappings of a medieval castle.
“I never could have imagined that we would still have LaVelle & Co. members from that very first evening, two months after I left Lord & Taylor in 2008,” Olexa said. For many years, Olexa was fashion director and the face of Lord & Taylor until she formed LaVelle & Co., a Manhattan-based collective with about 100 members helping to empower young professional women by providing mentoring and networking opportunities. The group meets periodically in New York at different locations, and has hosted HSN’s Mindy Grossman, futurist Edie Weiner and prima ballerina Sara Mearns of the New York City Ballet, among other prominent women.
“LaVelle inspires people to connect in a manner that’s beyond opinion or preconception,” said journalist Stacey Tisdale.
“LaVelle understands the power of women supporting and learning from other women,” said attorney Lauren Land. “Her group has enabled a large, unrelated network of women to build lasting friendships and empower one another to always seek out and work toward our passions.”
“LaVelle introduces women to inspiring stories and a network of peers and friends they might not otherwise meet. She is the very definition of graciousness and inspiration to all of us,” said Marit Vagstad, a publishing sales director.
Among the others at the party were Jennette Chang, Yeohlee Teng, Stan Herman, R.J. Graziano, Jane and Peter Elfers, Alain and Emily Pinon, Edie Weiner, Robert di Mauro, Terre Simpson, Michelle Mitchell and Carol Alt.