Designer Spotlight: Rosina Mae

Designer (middle) with models – via Chicago Now

The Rosina~Mae woman is nothing if not adventurous – and fun.  With a head designer who originally wanted to be an architect and clothing that is both daring and flexible, Rosina~Mae takes you “from the beach, to the street, to the party” in sparkle-infused, highly constructed pieces that give you a chance to say as much, or as little, as you want. Just in time for Chicago Fashion week, we sit down with Rose Mae Turner to talk about body and brand exposure and giving a new definition to the phrase “fashion house.”

How and why did you start designing?

I started designing fresh out of high school when I enrolled at Dominican University in River Forest. For years I had wanted to be an architect, but I finally figured out that fashion design was my calling and wanted to design specifically to spark something positive in the wearer. I think fashion that says something – or makes the wearer curious – is fabulous. I am also passionate about sustainable clothing and I use remnants and bits of recycled materials in my designs. I want to do my part to make the world better.

What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?

I feel that the biggest hurdle today with starting a company is that many designers lack the funds and the business sense to really launch their brand. Additionally, most of us are not informed on how to get investors. I know other designers in my boat with college degrees that have their own businesses, and work odd jobs on the side just to keep their line afloat. It is challenging to budget and find time to design while working other jobs… but I never thought it would be easy.

What do you think about fashion today?

Fashion today is limitless, with none of the boundaries like in past decades! I enjoy watching old runway shows and designer interviews. Certain designers were ahead of their time. Rudi Gernreich had an understood vision that paved the way for designers with a similar vision today. Current fashion editorials say a lot about the economy and the values we have. Fashion stories take a lot of my enjoyment of fashion to a new level and often I’m left with the question: “Are we really just selling clothes, or something more?”

What is your fashion philosophy?

I design for both the modest and the uninhibited. As women in the modern age, we now have the ability to have fun with fashion and a say in how exposed or covered up we want to be. Having a choice is a wonderful thing and I think we should embrace that. I like to use complementing fabrics and I design unusual cuts and styles. Sheer material is also usually incorporated as a play on mood and body exposure. I say, expect the unexpected. Tone it up or tone it down as the day goes on.


Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?

In 2008 I went to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York to see it first hand. Thrilled when I obtained a press pass, I worked as a blogger (for about 5 seasons). Wearing my designs to events, I made it my mission to learn from people I would meet. Last year I went on a three month European adventure. No matter where I am, my favorite thing is to seek out a new coffee shop for a cup of joe. Or I’ll see architecture with drastic angles out of a window… and I’m suddenly inspired to start a sketch…

Any tips and tricks of the trade?

Study everything and surround yourself with other creatives. Living in a city can be expensive and some of the most amazing and enjoyable times were when I lived in a “fashion house” where my roommates also worked in the fashion industry, as a model, hairstylist, and design student. We would also help each other out with finding gigs and even attend some networking events together. If I needed a fit model, my roommate would come to my room and try something on…no questions asked. It’s that sense of community that has helped me get where I am today.

See more of Rosina Mae on Nineteenth Amendment.

Featured image from “Like A Lion Magazine.”

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