Designer Brian Reyes shows his collection at Nashville’s Via Runway

Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 2:12am

Brian Reyes is only 26, but his résumé reads like that of a designer twice his age.

At 19, the Fort Lauderdale native moved to New York, where he swiftly landed a gig designing boys’ clothes for Polo Ralph Lauren. This led to positions at Michael Kors and Oscar de la Renta, both of which gave him the experience he needed to launch his own women’s line in 2005.

Reyes was a quick hit among both critics and buyers smitten with his way of imbuing classic feminine designs with fresh hits of texture and color.

Last year, Reyes received the esteemed Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award, given to the industry’s most promising new designers. He also became a red carpet go-to guy for young Hollywood starlets like Rachel Bilson and America Ferrera.

Today and tomorrow, Reyes will on hand at Nashville’s Via Runway to host a trunk show featuring his spring ’08 collection.

Before his first trip to town, Reyes was kind enough to chat with the SA about his take on Southern style, the wonders of doing fittings via the Web, and what we’ll be wearing 20 years from now.

You’ve never been to Nashville — welcome! What are you expecting to see here, fashion-wise?

I'm looking forward to being in Nashville. Traveling the country and meeting women from all around the globe, I find the style in the South to be very in tune with a sensibility I love, that of passionate elegance. Women in the south have a certain affinity for elegance that isn't as commonplace as it should be.

Having never been to Tennessee, I'm also looking forward to having a look around. I love good food and can't wait to try out a new restaurant. Any suggestions?

Talk a little bit about your spring ’08 line, which you recently debuted at New York Fashion Week and that will be available for pre-order at Via Runway today and tomorrow.

The collection has a very modern elegant feel to it, though it remains very organic. It's important to me to have a level of rawness to each collection. I used fabrics and prints that in one way or another represent the aspects of nature and technology that impact our lives.

What about your fall collection? What are your favorite pieces?

Fall was about raw eclectic elegance. I was inspired by the people of the Himalayas, the texture of most fabrics mimic the natural fabrics of that part of the world, as well as their weathered features. I used very basic colors for most of the collection and then penciled in silver, squash, violet, emerald, cobalt, copper to infuse celebration and optimism. It was a very individualistic collection for me.

Who are some of your personal style icons? Do they influence your designs?

As I design my collections, different women cross my path and anyone can be part of my inspiration. I must say that there is no one icon, but rather a sequence of women that influence the way I look at colors, shapes and design.

You got your start in men’s wear at Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors. Then you worked for the great Oscar de la Renta before launching your own label in 2006. Tell us about that.

Working for such a great designer as Oscar de la Renta was a dream come true. I was director of licensees at ODLR while participating closely with the women's design staff and it was a very exciting and eye-opening experience. I carried many of the things I have learned during my time there into my designs now.

You made Ugly Betty star America Ferrara’s gorgeous purple dress for the 2007 Golden Globe awards. How do you go about collaborating with a star?

It was a great experience especially because there was mutual trust. I had been following her TV show and I believe she is a force to be reckoned with — truly talented. When her stylist asked that I make a dress for the Golden Globes, I was thrilled. I was in India and we actually did the first fitting through a web-cam. The second I got back to the U.S. I was on a flight to L.A. to fit her in person. It was a perfect union of the minds.

What are the most common fashion mistakes women make on a daily basis? What can they do to solve them?

Fashion mistakes are a normal thing in the ever-changing world of style. I find the best solution is the most simplistic: less is more.

What are five basics every woman should have in her wardrobe, no matter where she lives?

1. Blue jeans

2. Multi-function support undergarments

3. A versatile dress

4. A polo shirt in a variety of fabrics

5. A Wolford body suit

Let’s look to the future. How do you think the fashion industry will change over the next two decades? For instance, what will we be wearing in 2030?

It is very hard to predict fashion. It’s influenced by so many factors that no one can really know its advance. However, as the seasons slowly disappear, I believe that we will all own a single season closet. There will be almost no difference between summer and winter in many places and therefore we will have to adjust our designs to fit the wardrobe of a woman that needs a strapless dress one minute and a long sleeve one the next. I work a lot with layers and I think that is the first step towards this type of change.

Brian Reyes will be at Via Runway today and Thursday from noon- 4 p.m. each day. Anyone is welcomed to drop by, though appointments are recommended. Via Runway is located in Spaces, where highways 100 and 70 split in Belle Meade. 615-353-9988.

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