Dallas-born fashion designer Lela Rose spoke to a record-breaking lunch crowd Jan. 13 at the Washington Winter Show, the second-oldest charitable antiques show in the U.S., founded in 1954. The event, held at American University’s Katzen Arts Center, benefits the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, THEARC and St. John’s Community Services.
Prior to Rose’s remarks, a blazer-clad choir from the Bishop Walker School performed. To provide seating for the more than 430 attendees, tables filled the rotunda and extended from it.
Rose, who studied fashion design at Parsons in New York, described how she learned about fabrics by working with two mentors and traveling to shows in Europe. She said she didn’t think fabric designers get enough credit.
Over the years, Rose has developed a lifestyle brand based on her philosophy of combining fashion with food and fun. Two of her mottos are: “Match your drink to your dress” and “Dress yourself, dress your table.” The slides and video illustrating her remarks made her obsessive attention to detail clear. “You need a microscope to get it all,” she joked.
Saying that she doesn’t like runway shows, Rose gave examples of her “salon style” of showing her clothing and accessories (including oven mitts), throwing parties in her Manhattan home, on Governors Island, on rooftops and in parks. For her wedding line, launched in 2006, she sent models in gowns across Park Avenue South to parade in Union Square.
Following the talk, Rose signed copies of her coffee-table book, “Pret-a-Party.”
Run by Jonathan G. Willen & Associates, this year’s event, Jan. 12 (preview night) to 15, was chaired by Liz Holleman Brown & Susan Dowhower Burke. The honorary diplomatic chair was French Ambassador Gerard Araud. In addition to art and antiques offered by more than 40 exhibitors on three levels, the show featured the loan exhibition “Coco Chanel: A New Portrait by Marion Pike, Paris 1967–1971.”