Thursday, October 6, 2011

Scarlet Woman: Fashion designer Jacqueline Rousseau

The Scarlet Woman series profiles women working in creative fields.  For more, go here.

I had the pleasure of meeting the endlessly charming and impeccably dressed Jacqueline Rousseau when I was in New York last month for Fashion Week.  A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Jacqueline has known her life's calling was to be a fashion designer since she was just a kid living in Indiana.  She is now realizing that dream with the launch of her own clothing line, a sort of Urban Outfitters meets Ann Taylor collection filled with of-the-moment color blocking, curve-friendly fits, and a particularly kicky graphic ikat print, which she designed herself.

Full name: 
Jacqueline Rousseau

Fashion Designer

Childhood nickname: 
Most close friends and family call me Jackie.

Favorite designer/artist/writer: 
A few favorites from different fields: Givenchy, Balenciaga, YSL, Norman Parkinson, Guy Bourdin, Gilbert & George, Matisse, Cezanne, Hopper. My favorite quote is by Henry David Thoreau: "If one advances confidently in the directions of his dreams. And endeavors to live the life which he has imagined. He will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

When you were a kid you wanted to grow up to be: 
A fashion designer

Media you work in: 
Denim, silk, lace, tulle, studs

Describe the path that led you here:
Since I was around 9 years old I wanted to be a fashion designer. I'm sure it started well before that even- I loved Barbies, absolutely loved the clothing. I was also inspired by fashion around me.  My paternal grandmother had such a great sense of style. I remember going to my grandparents' summer home in Maine and being fascinated by her closet filled with swimsuits and matching accessories. My path to design started with studying Fine Arts before moving to the UK to complete my design degree at the London College of Fashion. In London I completed some great internships and worked for an accessories label. I moved to NYC last year and have been working on my own line.

When do you feel most inspired: 
Very early in the morning or quite late at night, those are the times I have my best ideas.

How would you describe your style: 
My style is feminine, confident and sexy. My personal style is quite relaxed, but definitely reflected in my label.

First thing you do when you get up in the morning: 
Usually read a BBM instant message from my best friend Catherine in London, and read through emails, etc. Then, go for a run to get focused for the day.

What's the thing you love most about your job/profession/trade/etc:
There are so many aspects I love about being a designer. Obviously the creative process of sketching/ draping/pattern-cutting is extremely exciting for me. But I also love the daily interactions with other people in the industry, from the garment district to other designers, photographers, and stylists.

Favorite room in your house: 
I live in a studio apartment in Manhattan. My favorite spot is looking out my southfacing window; on a warm evening I sit on the fire escape, day dreaming.

Biggest challenge you've faced with your career: 
Current challenges include taking on too much myself -- I pattern, cut and sew all of the samples myself. The biggest challenge, however, is breaking into the market.

What brings you joy: 
My family and my friends bring me immense joy. Guilty pleasures also include impromptu dance parties in my apartment, watching "Murder, She Wrote," and oreos, which I have a tendency to inhale at a shocking pace.

Design "rule" you never follow: 
To force a design. When I'm working on a collection I have a timeline, but if something is not fitting in I've learned to roll with it and the lightbulb moment inevitably occurs, usually at 4 a.m. a day or two before the shoot!

How would you define a "scarlet woman": 
A "scarlet woman" for me is a woman who is a strong individual who pursues her dreams with confidence and persistence.

 *Portrait by Adrian Barry; collection images by YU + MA

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