Of the many cultural pairings you read about, Bahamian-Parisian isn’t top of list. But it’s from this unique background that designer Rebecca de Ravenel arrives at her exquisite blend of vibrant floral motifs and elegant silhouettes in her eponymous collection.
The brand, which launched in 2017, is a must-buy for women who want glamour plus comfort in their day-to-evening ensembles. De Ravenel knows her customer well: She came up with her designs to satisfy her own wardrobe requisites. “My collection very much reflects how I like to dress,” she says. “I prefer things that cinch me in at the waist and lines that flatter the woman’s shape, because not everyone has a perfect body.”
As evidenced by her growing fan base, the designer is far from alone in her desire for modern, fluid silhouettes. As she puts it, Rebecca de Ravenel is a brand for women who want to dress like women, and for shoppers who want to celebrate their femininity through fashion.
Passion for Print
Part of that feminine aesthetic can be seen in de Ravenel’s signature bright hues and strong prints. “I went to school in Paris, but I grew up in the Bahamas,” she says. “When you come from an island, it is always ingrained in you. This is what gives my brand its color and happy prints.” From Paris, she adopted the lean, fluid silhouettes for which the brand is now known.
The prints themselves are frequently informed by nature. Last spring’s nautical motifs were born of de Ravenel’s desire to take a vacation as she worked feverishly to finish her debut collection. “I was working so much and living vicariously through friends’ trips to places like Greece—that’s how I came up with the fish print,” she says.
Inspired by Interiors
While some labels derive seasonal themes from specific events, de Ravenel draws on the world of interiors—which also happens to be her background as a designer. “I always say I want to dress a divine woman in a divine room,” she shares. “I want to know where she is, who she is meeting, and what her surroundings look like. I envision a whole world before I create one dress.”
For her most recent collection, de Ravenel was captivated by the famous photograph of Diana Vreeland in her red room. “My favorite print for the season came from that photo,” she says. Her expertise in textiles comes into play with the selection of fabrics: The collection is filled with sumptuous silks that create an elegant drape across the body.
Before there were dresses, there was jewelry. “I fell into being a jewelry designer because I couldn’t find what I wanted in the market, so I started making pieces for myself,” says de Ravenel. Interest among family and friends convinced her to officially create a line, and within weeks her Les Bonbons earrings took off like a rocket. “I’d walk into a party and see women wearing them, and it was truly the best feeling,” she says. It wasn’t long before she realized the need for a wardrobe that would accentuate her dramatic accessories. “I began designing clothing because I wanted dresses that complemented my jewelry,” she says.
After three seasons helming her ready-to-wear ship, de Ravenel has worked out many of the growing pains that often befall a new brand. “Production is the most challenging part,” she says. “Ordering fabric on time, the deliveries, doing three seasons at once—it seems quite glamorous, but it’s not! On the other hand, I can say that I have learned more in the last few years than I have in my whole life.”
That knowledge is applied to the brand’s upcoming Spring collection, where silhouettes are a little looser and the mood a little less formal—looks inspired by the one and only Liv Tyler. “I took my woman outside for the Spring season,” says de Ravenel. “I pictured her running through fields with no shoes, enjoying nature.” Sounds like another dress (or two!) we can’t wait to slip into.