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It all started with four close fashion friends: Aly Gradone, Candice Miller, Chloe Rosenberg and Rachel Wexler. Four women who had worked in varying aspects of the industry, while doubling down as working moms, and felt a gap in the market for romantic yet easy-to-wear pieces cohesive enough to wear from school events to social gatherings and back to the office. The four women put their heads — and skill sets — together to launch a New York-based, limited-edition contemporary women’s ready-to-wear line, Black Iris, for spring/summer 2019.

Gradone, formerly a fit model with Fashion Fit Models, works as the company’s chief merchandising officer; Miller, lifestyle blogger of Mama & Tata, handles all their social media, press and events as chief marketing officer; Rosenberg, previously having designed for Rebecca Taylor, Madewell and Angel Textiles, manages the overall brand aesthetic as the chief of design and creative director; Wexler, previously an investor at Allen & Company as well as equity research analyst at J.P. Morgan, is the company’s chief operating officer. The name “Black Iris” itself derived from the idea of the brand being as delicate and beautiful, but as “highly coveted and difficult to find as the black iris flower itself.”

“The company represents a new fresh start for the four of us,” they stated, adding that the brand “conveys a nostalgia for a time of fewer things with better quality.” The collection itself includes 23 pieces, with multiple drops planned throughout spring on their own e-commerce (shopblackiris.com), as well as available exclusively on Moda Operandi and ShopBAZAAR for their launch on Jan. 23. Priced from $395 to $1,395, the lineup includes ladylike dresses and separates inspired by women of the late Fifties in modernized silhouettes — a cotton embroidered silk organza crop top at $395 and a silk chiffon midi dress with satin belt the latter. The idea of “lady” or sophisticated dressing that complements the female figure is one the quad had based the entire line around — they even refer to their ideal customer as “the Lady” (but one who is multifaceted, of course).

“Romantic, edgy pieces made for women by women,” they noted. While the brand leans far more romantic than the latter, each piece holds easy wearability geared toward the more girly girl. Lightweight day dresses — solid coral in silk organza, floral printed in silk chiffon — added a touch of whimsy alongside more classic silk charmeuse dresses or wool jackets. The brand’s Daisy dress — in marine green or blush silk charmeuse — made for a great addition to the lineup, adding a more sultry look to subtly downplay the lineup’s femininity.

With their first season underway and set to launch on Wednesday, Jan. 23, Gradone, Miller, Rosenberg and Wexler are well underway with expansion, noting a finished next fall/winter collection and talks of diving into a few collaborations for 2020. 

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