Monday, April 21, 2014

INSPIRED: Lauren Leonard, Fashion Designer

Birmingham Fashion Week shows kick off tomorrow!! We are very excited about seeing all of the design talent throughout the week, and one designer in particular we can't wait to see is Lauren Leonard of Leona. Since launching her collection in 2008, her brand has steadily grown in its success. Celebs wearing her designs? Check. Flagship boutique? Check. Expanding her line? Check. Smart, stylish, and business savvy, this NYC based designer is an obvious choice for an INSPIRED feature. When she's not designing, she has a knack for interior decorating and is very artistic (would so hang one of her paintings in the living room!). You're going to want to follow her on Instagram - so much inspiration to be had. Lauren is a bright talent whose progress you'll want to keep up with. 


If the essence of a modern Southern woman could be accurately captured in a collection of clothing, that collection would surely be Lauren Leonard's. Polished and feminine, her pieces have a charming ease and lightness about them. The look is classic and put together. Sophisticated yet approachable. Never too serious. Southern influence, Lauren says, has always been essential to the Leona aesthetic. "[The Leona girl] is feminine but not precious. She blends southern sensibility with cosmopolitan chic seamlessly in her effortless and classic styling", Lauren explains. "More than anything, she has an optimistic outlook and is confident." The colors and custom prints of the fabrics, which Lauren paints by hand, perhaps exemplify this most. Coral, seafoam, cherry and pops of graphic pattern are prevalent in her latest collection. Our personal faves are the Morgan skirt (need!) and the Jamie dress (adore the fit and flare shape). We love that her pieces are flexible and can be easily dressed up or down.

Along with dresses and separates, Leona offers a fun line of swimwear and accessories. Down the road, Lauren says we can look forward to even more. "Right now, I am really focused on honing our branding a bit more and expanding the product line with our Leona girl at the forefront. Opening a shop at our Nashville headquarters has allowed us to test new products like our jewelry." The ultimate goal, she says, is growing into a lifestyle brand offering shoes, bags, and jewelry (and we hope home decor, eventually!). In the interview, Lauren admitted her 'obsession' for interior design, citing antique shopping as her favorite thing to do when she's not working on Leona. So are home furnishings part of Lauren's long-term vision for Leona? "There are always items I am looking for", she explains, "like a specific lamp, or pillow or rug, or champagne glass that I can't seem to find, so it's definitely a possibility."

 In our Q & A session, she dishes on the design process, overcoming challenges, and her beauty and fashion must-haves for spring and summer. She also offers some great advice to entrepreneurial spirits. But first!.. a few runway shots from her Nashville show earlier this month to whet your appetite for her show in Birmingham this Thursday!

A few looks from Leona's latest shoot...

Hope y'all enjoyed getting to know Lauren! For those of you in Birmingham, be sure to get tickets to see her runway show on Thursday night. Follow her on Instagram for more inspiration and for the latest updates on her collection: @LeonaNewYork

Photo credits:
Runway shots, NFW  |  Bottom photo of Lauren,
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