Byline: Rusty Williamson
DALLAS — What do you wear to Dad’s Presidential inauguration?
No, it’s not the typical teen fashion dilemma, but it was a big concern for Barbara and Jenna Bush, 19-year-old twin daughters of President-elect George W. Bush.
Can’t do the suit thing — looks too much like Mom. And this isn’t exactly the time to play fashion renegade.
Now angst has turned to ease thanks to New York ready-to-wear designer Lela Rose, a longtime friend of the Bush family.
Rose, whose spare designs hang in Saks Fifth Avenue, Ultimo, Nordstrom and Tootsies, among about 50 other high-end stores, has fused sophistication with fun and turned out distinctive styles for the soon-to-be First Daughters.
Barbara Bush, named for her paternal grandmother, is set to wear Rose’s flared pink leather jacket with black saw-tooth edging over a black and white wool houndstooth sheath dress with leather piping. To counter the Capitol Hill chill, there’s also a matching overcoat.
“The pink and black is very graphic and perfect for Barbara’s fair skin, brunette hair and big blue eyes,” said Rose, whose studio is at 134 West 37th Street in New York.
For blond-haired, blue-eyed Jenna Bush, named after her maternal grandmother, Rose has designed a long camel and ivory checked, silk and cashmere coat and matching pegged skirt, worn with a moss green cashmere knit sweater with yellow and orange polkadots.
“It’s a lot of honor and a lot of luck to be designing for the Bush daughters,” said Rose in an interview with WWD on Tuesday. “They’re twins but they’re nothing alike in terms of appearance. Barbara is very interested in fashion and has very classic tastes. Jenna is a little more fun-loving and a little more into the trends.
“They’ve worn my designs before, but this is the first time I’ve designed things exclusively for them. For the inauguration, we needed to find something in-between, styles that aren’t too suity but fun and young. They will cast a mature and sophisticated image.”
Rose, who plans to attend the inauguration, is a native of Dallas and has known the Bush family for several years.
Her father, megawealthy investor Rusty Rose, is an old friend of George W. Bush, and the two men formerly were partners in the Texas Rangers professional baseball team, which they’ve since sold.
Lela, who holds degrees from the University of Colorado and Parsons School of Design in New York, started her wholesale business five years ago. She and her husband collect contemporary art, love baseball and Vietnamese food and are nearly inseparable from Stitch, their Norwich terrier.
“He comes to work with me everyday,” said Rose. “Dogs are wonderful and have a calming effect. I’ve needed that lately.”