A new, niche intimacy is sprouting up in pockets across fashion, offering alternatives to the industry’s mega brand domination. Julie de Libran is one designer going her own way. After her departure from Sonia Rykiel, where she was creative director, de Libran didn’t opt for an “Eat, Pray, Love” sabbatical (physical or emotional). Instead, she jumped into a new project with her name on the label and her personal aesthetic on view.
To telegraph the personal approach behind Dress By Julie de Lebran, the designer showed her debut lineup of 21 looks in her home. “I thought it was nicer and easier,” she said. “Since I’m in my universe, I feel more relaxed and I like to have people over, even if I’m not a very good cook. I tend to get stressed in the kitchen.” (Her caterer filled the void, supplying a feast of veggie-based hors d’oeuvres.)
De Libran focused on dresses precisely because they feel so personal to her — she designed her first one at 14, for a school dance — and they represent “infinite creativity.” Yet this was no fantasy-come-to-life. Rather de Libran showed a range of distinctive looks for women who believe in dressing up at night, but not in a costume, each inspired by a real woman or archetype. There was thus considerable range in the tight offering, from spangled party girl to glam goddess, the latter rendered with various degrees of discretion, both elegant puff-sleeved black dress and racy-chic blue crepe de chine gown with slit flyaway sleeves slashed-to-there and neckline secured with a provocative crystal strand.
De Libran wants to work in an environmentally responsible way for the collection available on her own web site and Matchesfashion.com. Some dresses were made from dead stock, and all will be cut to order, thereby eliminating overstock. To that end, it will be interesting to see if concern for the planet will trump impatience in the consumer mind-set. De Libran is banking that it will; these dresses, she said, are intended as “instant heirlooms.”
The personal touch extended to he end. Departing guests each received a reusable cotton tote filled with wine and white roses from Flower Box, presented with panache by de Libran’s son Balthazar and his friend Jules.