It’s been a big year for New York-based womenswear designer Wayne Lee. In addition to creating fall and winter collections, this petite sartorial savant has also launched her first ever resort line for 2012. The collection features plenty of ready-for-the-beach-wear, perfect for a weekend excursion. While Lee’s been on our radar for quite some time, it was model Ataui Deng clad in a crimson dress that drew us in. But it’s not always about work. In between pintucking and pleating for the fast-approaching New York Fashion Week, she’s also been shopping for onesies and strollers. Preparing for her first child. Motherhood, and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week? We’re in a headspin just thinking about it.
HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT?
Hopefully I’ll never get to that point of completely knowing. In that way, I’ll always be getting closer to knowing and always striving for the best. I measure success by the level of enjoyment and fulfillment during the journey. As long as I’m making beautiful clothes that can be appreciated and sought after, I’m happy and successful.
YOUR CLOTHES HAVE BEEN CALLED “IMPECCABLE” AND ARE KNOWN FOR THEIR EXCEPTIONAL TAILORING. WHAT HAS INSPIRED THAT IN YOUR STYLE IN GENERAL?
I have always believed in good quality and longevity when buying clothes. I guess I’m also getting a little older and would like items that tend to stay in my closet, clothes that I feel good in and that can withstand time and wear. I believe in clean lines and silhouettes that enhance one’s personality and confidence. I want to bring that magic to my customers.
WHERE DO YOU SHOP ONLINE? For clothes, I shop at barneys.com mostly. For miscellaneous stuff, I like to shop online and across the country for horsehair, bird-handling leather accessories, metal works, and galvanized rubber.
IF I WEREN’T DESIGNING, I would have become a doctor or a crime fiction writer.
THE MOST SURPRISING THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO ME was when I found out I was pregnant this past January. It was during my Fall 2011 show when I found out. I was inspired by Renaissance art and the theme of “rebirth.” I found it surprising that when I found out I was pregnant, the show also referenced my own rebirth. It was very special. I am due in the next couple weeks [in early September] and am ecstatic!
I AM GOOD at keeping my kitchen cabinets stocked with tons of canned corn, the Krasdale kind especially. I LOVE corn that comes in a can…always have, always will.
I AM BAD at lying. Honesty works best for me. I feel most free.
IN A NUTSHELL, MY DESIGN PHILOSOPHY is always to make clothes and collections that are elegant, affordable, and wearable. But also have fun while I’m designing it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL THAT HAVING NO FORMAL TRAINING HAS BENEFITED YOUR WORK FOR THE BETTER?
The less you know, the more uninhibited you are. That’s how I was in the beginning when I started my company with no former knowledge or training. I picked up as I went along, learning from my factories, pattern makers, and fabric mills. I was very fortunate to have learned from amazing people at Barneys, who also have always supported my growth in my business and passion for design.
HAVING BEEN BORN IN VIETMAM TO CHINESE PARENTS AND RAISED IN AMERICA, HOW DO YOU FEEL THIS HAS AFFECTED YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A DESIGNER?
My parents are strict advocates of hard work, passion, and perseverance. We were always encouraged to excel and find our own success in life. My goal is to keep going and do my best to give the greatest results.
By OJ Williams