With all its dainty florals, cowgirl accouterments, and feminine silhouettes, Lela Rose’s fall 2022 offering seems like a straightforward dive into Western-influenced glamour. The designer, who currently splits her time between New York and Wyoming, may be intrigued by the differences between East Coast and Mountain West style. However, her take goes beyond the usual city vs. country interpretation of the concept. This season Rose wanted to address her client’s busy social calendar while giving her wardrobe a bit of grit. Her woman still has plenty of cocktails and nights out on her schedule, but standard-issue party frocks have lost their appeal. As such, Rose sought to spice things up, taking elements her collections are known for—bold color, sumptuous fabrics—and approaching them with renewed vigor.
Images shot on the terrace of Rose’s studio illustrated the concept. Models decked out in bolo ties, wide-brim hats, and vintage Navajo Concha belts posed amidst the sprawl of the Manhattan skyline. Though she used vintage Westernwear for the accessories, Rose’s dresses were fit for city slickers ready to kick up their heels—or boots. All the pleated skirts with a hint of Lurex shine, fitted bolero jackets flecked with petals, and golden brocades felt festive, so did the column dresses adorned with reflective black tassels that sparkled like tinsel.
Subtler pieces like a long-sleeved jacquard check dress with a kerchief neckline were given a boost thanks to details like strategically placed fringe. Even the knits received a remix. “I have been collecting Western tapestries for years, and I like bringing those patterns into these knit sets that we have been doing,” said Rose. “We take that and then add on these simple beaded details that go down the sleeves and continue throughout the body.”
Such thoughtfully considered details were the collection’s greatest strength, even when they required a history lesson. West wasn’t the only direction Rose headed this season. The collection’s prim prettiness owed much to Victorian fashion’s embroidery obsession and draping techniques, the latter of which was used to great effect on printed crepe dresses. The period’s crypto communication system, Floriography, informed the pattern selection. A covert means of expressing attraction, intimacy, or even upset with a floral arrangement was an essential part of etiquette in the 1800s. Intrigued by the complexity of the multiple meanings attached to blooms, Rose embellished her pieces with those rich in symbolism. “A sunflower could mean fake riches, but now it takes on a completely different and more optimistic connotation,” she said. “They go through the entire collection, whether the sunflowers are printed on cottons or done in these Tencel pleated tulles that are fabulous. I loved the idea of using this secret language of flowers where so much can be said without a word.”