Natalie Ratabesi’s résumé is stacked. Before launching her own collection, Tre, last year for resort, she worked at Christian Dior under John Galliano, with Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Gucci, before joining Ralph Lauren as senior creative director. After that she headed Alberta Ferretti’s Philosophy line, Vince and Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 collection. Last November Sarah Rutson tapped her to join Current/Elliott as women’s creative director, which brought the Rome native to Los Angeles.
Though Ratabesi has extensive experience translating a vision for other big-name designers, Tre was the first time she was tempted to work for herself. The collection is a true reflection of what she wants, and she designs it according to her gut. “When I’m working on the collection, I try everything on and I don’t even look in the mirror,” she said during a preview. “If I don’t feel that I want to wear it, it doesn’t go in the line.”
The name Tre came to Ratabesi in a dream. “It doesn’t mean anything else,” she said. The clothes, too, feel like instinctive revelations on a strong-minded woman’s wardrobe. The collection goes from creative casual to interesting evening. Oversized tie-dyed sweatshirts with sleeves that adjust with zippers, dressed-up track pants with double waists and some of the coolest deconstructed jeans to hit the market in a while reflect a sophisticated, feminine take on streetwear, something that is improbably rare in this street-saturated moment. Gowns and cocktail dresses were done in soft colors with pretty pleating and gentle draping, yet cut with a coquettish boudoir edge.
Ratabesi’s vision for Tre is a fresh, welcome point of view from a new female designer working in the U.S. The collection is designer price point and is carried at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Net-a-porter — 11 wholesale accounts total. Of all the design studios Ratabesi has worked in, West gets credit for reenergizing her creative appetite for fashion with his willingness to question the rules she was used to abiding by. “Anything that was, ‘We can’t do that,’ he would just say, ‘Why not?'” said Ratabesi. “He really gave me a reboot.”