Interview with d.Ra Designer Diana Ra

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In today’s modern world, designing woman’s wear is no easy task. The modern woman wants clothing that are undeniably stylish yet absolutely wearable, flattering but not overtly sexy, and versatile enough to take her from work to the weekend.  When we saw the fresh prints and modern clean lines of d.Ra on StyleSpotter, from stores like Revolve Clothing, Shopbop, and Urban Outfitters, we knew we found one of the those special brands that accomplish all three. It was no surprise when we visited the d.Ra’s Los Angels studio, that the designer and founder Diana Ra is a busy modern woman and mother herself with a unique background. Ra explains her vision of creating versatile and beautiful clothes that will take a woman from the beginning of her career to the early stages of motherhood, and with customers that include one of America’s most famous mothers and career women, Beyoncé, there’s no doubt that d.Ra is doing just that. Read on to hear more of Ra’s inspiration for her latest line, and what’s up next for d.Ra.

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draclothing.com 

d.Ra has always caught our attention when browsing online stores like Revolve, Shopbop, and Urban Outfitters. What is the background story on how you got into designing your own line and how these fashion departments discovered you? A lot of hard work and years of trying to get buyers’ attention. But, looking back I think it has something to do with my Brazilian background. Being from Brazil, but I’m Korean, so the juxtaposition of the 2 really shows in my designs. There’s a softness and colorful print driven part of the line from my Brazil background, but there’s also a structured and tailored part which I think naturally comes from my Korean culture. Years of working in corporate America I really wanted to expand and do more and really think outside that box to really have the ability to do more, so that’s why I decided to branch off and do my own line.

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d.Ra Studio

Your designs always include fresh prints with modern crisp lines. What was the inspiration behind your fall 2014 collection? I started out with a very clear image of what I wanted, I had an image of a gothic garden, so I used a lot of dark florals. I wanted it to be romantic so all of our prints are floral based and there’s a lot of purples and reds and deep burgundy. Pairing that with a black blazer offset the softness with all the prints. I also took the opportunity to introduce knits again. I’ve always been more of a woven designer but for fall I saw more of the knits trend coming back and it turned out really great.

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The Primrose dress on the cover of WWD and the Fall 2014 line at the LA studio.

We especially love the cut-out jumpsuit and the shape of the Primrose dress. Which pieces are your favorite and how would you style them? I loved our gothic garden main floral which is featured on WWD and I think that print epitomizes what fall should look like. Very beautiful, romantic, and mysterious. Styling that floral with one of our black blazers or even our menswear inspired tweed puffer vest. I also love styling that with sneakers or boots so the look is not so tailored or too dressy.

What type of woman loves to wear d.Ra and where is she going in it? Between 25-35. We see her at 25 out of college, a career girl wearing it to work and drinks after, she’s probably a city girl, she can wear it all throughout the day. It’s easy, she can run errands in it, she can throw on sneakers with it but still look put together. She always looks well dressed and pretty but never over-dressed. In her 30s she’s more established but styling her d.Ra with her blazer to her career in a higher position. Then at 35 she’s a young mom running to daycare, stops by work, goes to yoga, and is continually on the go but she’s always able to put her d.Ra clothes back on and be comfortable in them and feel a little more dressed up for the day without having to think about it too much.

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Beyoncé wearing d.Ra

Your designs have been worn by the amazing queen B herself, Beyonce. What has been the most exciting press moment for d.Ra? That was it! She literally wore d.Ra back to back and on her vacation! She was cutting and reworking the pieces and customizing them. We couldn’t believe she took the time to make it the way she wanted. So it was super exciting. I recently went to one of her concerts and left afterwards thinking she’s not just a great performer but she’s also so inspirational. I think her wearing d.Ra right after seeing that was even more amazing. We sent her the new d.Ra childrens line for her daughter and she loved it so that’s been even more exciting!

In the d.Ra bio it says your designs are created with vintage patterns. What decade are you drawn to the most when you work? I tend to go towards the 70’s a lot, there’s always a little bohemian inspiration behind our dresses and I think that’s just from seeing my mom’s dresses and how she wore them in that era. They’ve always inspired me and I look back to the way she dressed when she was a teenager. It’s also a decade that was so freeing and not so put together which I love.

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d.Ra mini Spring 2015

What new things can we expect to see from d.Ra? The Spring 15’ line just came out and we’re really excited about it. I feel like it’s the first collection where I’ve really had so many resources because of my new partnerships and backers. I was able to go to Europe and India for the first time and I’ve just had so much that I could use in front of me. They hooked me up with so many different vendors and fabric people and it’s really gotten a great reaction so far. So stay tuned for that, and the Spring 15’ d.Ra children’s line will be out then as well. It’s really mommy and me and super cute!

What’s the most surprising thing about you that most people don’t know? Probably my love for hip-hop and old school hip-hop! Just because I’m so small and the fact that I love all of these feminine prints. I’ll literally be working with all of these feminine pieces and will say “Alright, let’s put on some hip-hop!”. My favorite rapper right now has to be Jay-Z.

You probably have an amazing closet at home. What one piece could you not live without? My black blazer. I probably have at least 10 hanging in my closet. It’s the quickest thing that I can really just throw on over anything. My jeans, a tee, a dress, it instantly makes you look put together. I think that’s also why for d.Ra collections I always include a blazer.

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Kasha Cabato

Kasha Cabato is a fashion industry professional who specializes in marketing and social media. She is a graduate of Parsons The New School for Design and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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