An Interview with Designer Rosaria Lamanna

By Juliana Day

The one thing constant about fashion is change, and up and coming young Canadian designer Rosaria Lamanna is leading with way with her modernist and innovative fashions. This month, LifeTools Magazine caught up with Ms. Lamanna at a trunk show at "Presenting Italy" in Calgary, Canada, to interview her about her newest line of clothing.

LT (LifeTools Fashion Writer Juliana Day): What is the process is getting out your fashion lines?

RL (Rosaria Lamanna): It's pretty involved because you're producing everything from beginning to end. It starts with designing and producing your logo to designing, perfecting and producing the product in volume. It has been a wonderful experience. I went down to New York for the first season, and it has been growing ever since.

Designer Rosaria Lamanna
(left) with Presenting Italy
owner Diane Hobson

LT: When was your last show and where was it?

RL: The last couple of seasons, we have been showing out of the Millennium Broadway Hotel. We set up a suite and invited our customers and the press. During New York fashion week, we invited all the New York editors.

LT: Which Canadian stores carry your line?

RL: In Calgary, Presenting Italy. In Edmonton, Blu's Women's Wear. And in Toronto, Joy Cherry and Urban Woman. We also distribute across the states in specialty boutiques.

LT: What is your target audience for this collection?

RL: The collection is luxurious - it is really about understated opulence. It consists of wonderful fabrics that we import from Italy or France. All the fabrics are exclusive to us. To me, the definition of luxury is that first of all, the clothes have to feel beautiful against the skin. Then the clothes must flatter the female form.

I'm really conscious about proportion - about really making a woman feel beautiful. I love playing with colors; it's a lot of sophisticated combining of textures and playing with interesting colors.

We do knitwear out of Italy. Then there are real focus items. For example, a special coat that you can dress up or down - like a crinkled velvet coat that has an antique quality to it, but has a wonderful print with all these rich textures.

The idea behind our clothes is that lifestyles are so demanding that clothes have to be able to work, travel and play so that you can wear a couple of pieces during the day, then in the evening change the top to something pretty and funky, making the outfit interesting for the evening. That is the key to the collection.

LT: I noticed that you have "Inspiration Photos". Can you explain how they have inspired you?

RL: Sometimes it's the proportions that inspire me; sometimes it's the color pallet that inspires me. I was craving dark, inky colors. In this case I wanted to evolve that into what I call, "Black Current". You see a lot of slouchy, belted or lower-waisted styles.

There is also an evening wear section that has a wonderful sequined dress. At the same time, I don't like to do stereotypical evening wear. So you combine a sequined skirt with a wool turtle neck sweater and wear a cool pair of tight black boots with it. The idea is to make it interesting. You're getting a lot of wear out of your clothes and are really enjoying them.

LT: Have you always wanted to be a designer?

RL: My first inspiration was growing up around my parent's fabric business. They had a retail shop in Toronto for over 40 years. So I grew up seeing interesting and exclusive fabrics. That grew on me - a real appreciation of weaves and textures of colors and nuances in colors. At a very young age, too, I was sewing. I wanted original things and I loved hand-stitched details or things that gave clothes soul or personality.

LT: What is your educational background?

RL: I went to school in Istituto Marangoni in Milan. It was two blocks away from Milan's fashion district. The school had a wonderful reputation - Dolce & Gabbana graduated from Istituto Marangoni. The school has been around since the 1920's.

LT: What is the prerequisite to admission in this school?

RL: You have to present a portfolio. At the time I had gone to the University of Toronto and got a B.A. in Economics.

LT: That must be helpful in your current endeavor.

RL: It certainly is helpful and I'm grateful that I did get it (the B.A. in Economics). At the time I was racking my brain thinking, "What did I get myself into"? But in the end I realized it was worthwhile.

After graduating from U of T, I decided I wanted to try out fashion design. I looked into different schools. I finally decided on Marangoni because I wanted the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture. Not only that, you immerse yourself in another language. I loved the opportunity of being in a fashion capital where they have a long tradition of innovation whether it is in textiles or design. It was pretty wonderful!

So there you have it! Child of fabric store owner turns economist turns fashion designer. Keep your eyes on Rosaria. She is young, she is talented, she is Canadian and she is going places!

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