A secluded private home in downtown Dallas set the scene for a local designer comeback on Friday, May 31st. Ashlee Brooks, formerly of Varela + Brooks, is now on her own and dreaming of a very feminine fall.
Together with former partner Isabel Varela, Brooks earned first runner up in the Texas Next Top Designer competition in 2011. The ladies’ parting thereafter was amicable, and perhaps inevitable, given their divergent aesthetics. Varela continued with a solo line IZAVEL, quite modern, while Brooks now takes an ethereal route.
The 29-year-old Baylor University grad has hardly been on hiatus, but she’s shied from the local social spotlight while hard at work on this Fall 2013 collection debut. Inspired by an imaginary Ice Queen-like character, Brooks describes the 16-piece range as “very feminine, but still icy and cold.” Comprising a dozen ready-to-wear separates and four special occasion looks, all items reflected a cool palette of ivory, blush, and aqua blue. Of note, her Fall 2012 line earned Brooks accolades as a “designer to watch” at L.A. Fashion Weekend.
To the tune of a string quartet playing ‘Once Upon A Dream,’ models lounged in a garden courtyard set with gauzy drapes and tufted furniture. Our favorite looks included modest, ‘50s-inspired skirts and a clever day-to-evening cape. The latter will be available in all three of the signature tones of the collection when production begins. We predict it will be a top seller.
Speaking of sales, when queried as to her ideal customer, Brooks politely demurred. She doesn’t have one, by design. “I want to make my clothing versatile,” she explained. “I don’t want to just target one small group of women.”
This vision includes various styling options for nearly every piece, to earn their keep as wardrobe staples for women age 25 to 45-plus. The strategy could set Brooks apart in a field of young local hopefuls seemingly obsessed with designing just for the red carpet. To her point, we’d love to pair one of those ladylike skirts with a studded motorcycle jacket and booties, to add a little edge.
Available in coming weeks, the Ashlee Brooks Fall 2013 Collection will be available at Piermarini Boutique in Dallas and at AshleeBrooksCollection.com. The designer also has feelers out in Chicago and Los Angeles, hopeful that additional retailers will believe in her dream, too.
All photos, credit Heather Lettieri for DFW Style Daily.