Best of NYFW backstage: Designer Q&A with Pamella Roland

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .


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NEW YORK -- Pamella Roland knows what women want. This season at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, she gave them elegant dresses and separates inspired by Paris in the 1970s as depicted in Alicia Drake's book "The Beautiful Fall."

The collection brought the inspiration to life through bold prints, deep hues and extraordinary details, including hand-cut velvet sequins, embroidered prints, velvet flocking and feathers.

Since the line launched in 2002, it's become a favorite of celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Taylor Swift and Eva Longoria, and is sold in more than 70 fine department and specialty stores domestically and abroad.

Before the runway show on Monday afternoon at Lincoln Center, the brand's president and designer, Pamella Roland, chatted with Stylebook backstage about the collection, the challenges of New York Fashion Week, pre-show rituals and more.

What's in store for fall 2015?

PR: My inspiration is the early '70s in Paris, which kind of started getting this world of fashion going. It's kind of where the models and photographers and fashion designers all really gathered together in the early '70s, and I think we've just come up from there. One thing I've always loved on a woman is a tuxedo and that's really when Yves [Saint Laurent] put a tuxedo on, le smoking jacket. So we open up with a tuxedo. The look of the hair and makeup is kind of a Brigitte Bardot look.

Writers can get writers' block. Is there an equivalent of this for fashion designers, and, if so, how do you work through that?

PR: This one's a little more of a change for me than I've done in the past. It's still glamorous, but it has a little bit more of a bohemian look to it, which is not really me but I'm doing this inspiration I had to step out. I love it. I'm actually really happy how it turned out, but that was a little difficult. It's always hard to come up with something new, but it always seems to all come together.

What do you think the Pamella Roland woman wants?

PR: We dress young girls, we have our younger-end line, too. We dress the whole family -- the daughters, the mothers, the sisters, grandmothers. What they want really more than anything is to feel confident in what they're wearing. And then you need to make sure that what you're buying and choosing it fits you well. ... A Pamella Roland woman is a busy, confident woman. 

What are your thoughts when you're producing a show? Who should it be for?

PR: [Fashion shows] do seem to change. And even this venue I'm like, where am I going? [Referencing the fact that this is the last time shows will be held at the tents at Lincoln Center.] I've been happy. I really have not had any complaints. The only complaint I would say that's got to be difficult is it's very expensive to run a show. And it gets harder and harder. So I think especially for a young, new designer starting, that's probably the most difficult thing. I don't mind where you put me but stop raising the prices all the time.

Any pre-show routines or rituals?

PR: I have a bracelet from my son, a charm bracelet, that he's been giving me a charm. He just gave me one for Valentine's Day. ... I wear it all week. [Although she didn't wear it this time because it didn't go with her look, she said.] You know when I'm coming because it's very loud. 

I try to get sleep, but I just don't. Afterward we always have a good party.

And after the show?

PR: Afterward there's always a couple cocktails involved.

Photos: Pamella Roland by Sara Bauknecht/Post-Gazette. Runway images by Jennifer Graylock.

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