If you're at a Pittsburgh fashion event and spot colorful fashions embodying the spirit and beauty of Brazil, chances are designer Lana Neumeyer had something to do with them. (Above, photo by Montovani Fernandes)
Ms. Neumeyer moved to Pittsburgh more than two decades ago and has become a regular at Pittsburgh runway shows, sharing her fashions created with eco-friendly fabrics such as burlap and chita. (More photos of her fashions below.)
Her clothes will be featured at Style Week Pittsburgh's red carpet kick off at 6 p.m. tonight at Perle in Market Square, Downtown.
Where are you from?: I am from Brazil. Goiania, the city that I'm from, is in the center of the country. It's very close to the capital city, Brasilia.
What brought you to Pittsburgh?: When I came, it was for medical reasons for my late husband. After two liver transplants he passed. I sat down with my two teenage sons, and we decided to stay here. We had really started liking Pittsburgh. ... A few years later I met Fred Neumeyer. We got married and became partners in an environmental remediation business. I've been able to form a beautiful life here but still get to travel home to Brazil whenever I want -- it's great!
How long have you lived in Pittsburgh?: Since January 1990. What I really count are my winters -- 23 winters so far. The changing seasons in Pittsburgh is what I like the most. I enjoy each one!
How long have you been designing clothes?: I grew up with my grandmother and mom making all of my clothes at home, so it gave me an opportunity at a very early age to start creating something different for my sisters, my mother and for myself. Also, I am an architect by trade, so there are many similarities between that and designing clothes: be creative.
How would you describe your designs?: I like to mix materials of different textures. I also do a lot of work with burlap. My clothes are bright with a lot of colors, often floral. I'll do a little transparency to add some sensuality, but for the most part I like long, flowing pieces. I want my designs to be fun and entertaining.
From where do you get inspiration for your collections?: I'd say my environmental and daily life inspire me the most. I don't necessarily follow trends, I make my own. The challenge of mixing different materials and textures inspires me. All of my pieces are one of a kind.
Favorite designer(s)?: John Galliano and Christian Lacroix.
Favorite Pittsburgh boutique(s)?: I do not buy in boutiques, but Pittsburgh has very good and fashionable ones. I like Maxalto in Shadyside.
Three garments or accessories I must have in my closet are ... a lot of hats, shoes and bangles (big ones).
If I wasn't a designer, I would want to be ... anything that involves creativity, fashion and the environment.
In the next five years, I see the fashion industry in Pittsburgh becoming ... more recognized outside of the city, both nationally and internationally. There are a lot of young fashion designers in Pittsburgh, including fashion photographers, makeup artists, hairdressers and handmade crafts.
Advice for aspiring designers: Always wear your designs. You are your best free advertisement! Build your brand and keep your style. Wear what you design to special events. Believe in yourself and what you do! If you trust your work, your customer will trust you, too!