Rosie Assoulin

Occasion Dressing


Raised in Brooklyn, 29-year-old Rosie Assoulin is redefining the event-dressing scene with her theatrical, playful and elegant designs. She works with instinct, passion and skills honed at master ateliers, Oscar de la Renta and Alber Elbaz. Having launched her debut collection in 2014, Assoulin has already become a magnet for fashion and Hollywood’s new generation who are drawn to her dreamy yet pragmatic designs.

Words by Harriet Quick

Let’s talk about your fascination with volume and structure – your dresses have a sense of light drama…

It’s part of our DNA. There is a strong sculptural line that we play with each season. In the last six seasons, we have been bending the line, curving it and folding it over – you name it. It’s always a challenge to take a sketch and work it through and also make it not feel costumey. That’s a dirty word for us. I do aim to make everything look effortless, elegant and clean.

As a woman, how do you approach the question of sensuality in style?

I do think of what is respectful for a woman and it’s not just a question of being flattering. I do love the back and I play with cut outs and drapes to reveal that area while still holding you in. Comfort is also a huge part of the equation – you want to live your life and I don’t think being pulled, pushed and tucked in all directions allows for that freedom. It’s like a lover – you don’t want your lover to look foolish, you want that person to look respectful, to be confident and to be bold.

What was the inspiration behind one of the standout looks in your collection, a pea green gown and trousers at Lane Crawford?

We called it Thumper – after the rabbit in Bambi because of the soft long volume. We try to find the colour that each piece deserves. My approach is to treat each piece as a jewel box piece. A style might have a sporty feel, or a vintage sensibility or it might be more tailored or avant-garde. I like to blend identities. For me, it’s not unlike looking at Instagram. You might flip from an image of Marcel Duchamp, to a quote by Einstein to a Rem Koolhaas building – I love that diversity. I like the fact you can’t put your finger on it. That’s what I’m aiming for.

You are working in a very rarefied world, what is luxury to you?

There’s the internal and also the global idea. Internally, it is having pieces made in New York and maintaining direct control, so there is no disconnect. That is a luxury. There are also the wonderful, beautiful fabrics like silk faille and organdy and the new generation of technical blends that have a subtle diversity. There is an emotional luxury also to being inspired, to being able to change your eye. It’s not based on desire because that can become empty but about the ability to move your eye onto the next thing. It is a real privilege.

What are your thoughts on how we socialise right now – the cross between the formal and informal, uptown and downtown?

Black-tie galas, birthdays and dinners – every event calls for a different balance and a different chemistry. Sometimes it’s not about being the most fashionable. I think every woman makes it up in different ways. I love using separates – a beautiful draped top, for example, with a man’s trouser takes on a different personality than when worn with a skirt. But every piece should offer up options. I don’t know anyone who does not have anxiety about getting dressed up, but the ability to change things up and down makes a difference.

Before you launched your label – describe one outfit that made you feel utterly fabulous?

I am going back to my teen years. Once I had an engagement party at the last minute. I had some scarf fabric lying around and hotel sewing kits so I created a draped dress built around a strapless bra.

You worked as an intern both for Oscar de la Renta in New York and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin in Paris – two masters of evening wear. What did you learn?

While they were completely open-minded and had dynamic, openhearted relationships with their ateliers, both Alber Elbaz and the late Oscar de la Renta always went with their instinct and gut. I just wanted to be around them while they were draping on the model or in fittings. I wanted to be around the energy of the live design process and it just so happens that they are known for being the most charming and charismatic designers. It was very exciting, very focused, passionate and again very instinctive.

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2015-07-08 00:12:00.0