Ana Lerario-Geller Finds Inspiration In New York’s ‘Melancholy Beauty’


Photos: Kelly Stuart

Brazilian designer Ana Lerario-Gellers rise to success reads as a charmed fashion fairytale. Born and raised in Sao Paulo, the 33-year old designer moved to New York City and attended Parsons School of Design. From there on out, her career mimics the very dreams crafted in the minds of every young, aspiring designer.

She scored an internship with Marc Jacobs, befriended Richard Chai, became head designer for TseSay, and then eventually launched her own line, Lerario Beatriz, in August 2005. Naturally, such a whirlwind tale wouldnt be complete without a little romance. The designer is currently expecting her first child with husband, 2009 CFDA/GQ winner, and fellow Marc Jacobs alumni, Robert Geller.

It is a very funny story. He was my intern! she recalled. Although the pair initially met in 2001, they didnt start dating until 2005.

Yet for someone so thoroughly immersed in the elusive world of fashion, she didnt always want to become a designer. In fact, shed planned to become a lawyer.

It [fashion] wasnt thought of as a career; it wasnt an option in Brazil, she told us.

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Lerario Beatriz Spring 2010 lookbook

So how did an aspiring attorney wind up trading in legal briefs for brief skirts? Lerario-Geller credits her mother as the match that lit the spark; she owned a clothing shop, Le, which sold goods by young and emerging designers.

The designer mused, I think I would be a good lawyer, but I wouldnt be happy.”

With legal aspirations firmly behind her, Lerario is looking to the future.

After graduating with honors from Universidade Santa Marcelina in 1998, she bid Brazil tchau and shipped off to the Big Apple. In 1999, she landed a job with Marc Jacobs. The designer watched the line grow from a small, fairly close-knit company to the enigmatic powerhouse that Jacobs currently commands. Soon, she was appointed designer, overseeing womens wear and working directly with Jacobs on his main line.

Four years later, it was timing for more growing. She decided to leave the Jacobs design team and follow in the footsteps of Richard Chai. At the time, Chai was Head Designer for TSE Cashmere. However, the career change didnt come without its hesitations.

I felt like I wasnt ready yet to leave Marc Jacobs, she said.

Nevertheless, she didnt want to pass up such an amazing opportunity. She became Head Designer for TseSay, TSE Cashmeres diffusion line. Not too shabby. But it was an itch to be thoroughly creative only to herself that had Ana thinking up an solution: launch her own namesake collection.

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Lerario Beatriz Spring 2010 lookbook

Fiftytwo Showroom, located in Tribeca, houses a variety of ready-to-wear collections, such as Arkas, Coven, Suzie Wong, and the designer’s own label, Lerario Beatriz.

Now that shes calling all the shots with Lerario Beatriz, shes found that there are just some things that cant be taught: namely, the business side of fashion.

In comparison to working with Jacobs or even with long-time friend Richard Chai at TseSay, things are much more real.”

Real-life, in this case, is about relationships, such as working with a new factory. The designer found that there just wasnt enough time to do all of the things she wanted namely incorporating embroidery into the collection.

Designing is the exciting part. Then you have to worry about distributing to stores all those things you dont learn about in school, she said.

Business complications aside, Lerario Beatriz has been a creative success. And if her positive reviews by fashion insiders are any indication, style-minded folks are at the very least, piqued by the designer’s aesthetic and inspiration.

But Lerario-Geller is a girl that’s hard to put a thumb on and call it day. She’s hesitant to pin down one overruling source of inspiration. From the classic prestige of the Metropolitan Museum to the street-smart, urban sensibility of Brooklyn photographers, her artistic influences are the everyday threads that constitute the fabric of the city. Drawn to melancholic beauty, the things that catch her eye are often romantic, dark things in general.

Guided by a serene, organic aesthetic, her collections showcase a collision of New York culture and ethnic undertones. Think feminine, soft knits paired with ultra-bright Dayglo tights, rich floral patterns battling black and white polka-dots, and free-flowing trousers pitted against structured jackets. The quality of romanticism that pulsates throughout her collections is anything but whimsical. Although certainly not afraid to incorporate color, its necessity is akin to the final piece of a large puzzle, rather than an anchor. Even with the flashes of color sprinkled throughout the Fall-Winter 2010 Collection (see below), the overall allure exudes a sense of balance that teeters on the line of heavy melancholy and reflective elegance.

But above all, the heart of Lerario-Gellers designs points to an unlikely source: nature.

Surprisingly enough, her affection for nature was not the result of growing up in Brazil.

Living in Brazil, its [nature] kind of taken for granted, Lerario-Geller confessed.

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Lerario Beatriz Spring 2010 lookbook

Instead, all credit goes to New York. Those bursts of the natural world, so apparent against the backdrop of a concrete jungle, contributed to the designers newfound appreciation. When lacking inspiration, the designer heads to the Botanical Gardens. When in need of a little R&R, she loves to garden.

On the other hand, homage to her Brazilian background is always diffused throughout each collection.

I think diversity is a big influence in my life coming from a country like Brazil where we are exposed to a big mix of cultures made me be more open to traveling and exploring since I was very young. I always bring some ethnic influences to my collection, she said.

Lately, not only is she making a name for herself in the fashion world, but shes branched out into the domains of social media. Her blog is a personal mosaic of artistic inspiration and her everyday life. There are snapshots of friends, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks at photo shoots, even a recipe or two. Not only is it a way to connect to her fans, but she said, its a way to put myself out there.

With the prospect of motherhood (literally) approaching closer each day, however, it looks like fashion will have to be put on the back burner. But dont count on a lengthy hiatus. Although unable to drop a few names, she is already thinking about future collaborations with other designers.

When it comes to Lerario-Geller’s advice for fashions young and hopeful, her wisdom echoes the practicality in her own designs.

She had this down-to-earth advice: Crunch your numbersand make sure you have enough money for the first two years.”

Looks from the Fall/Winter 2010 Lookbook:90586 1271082767 Ana Lerario Geller Finds Inspiration In New Yorks Melancholy Beauty90587 1271083163 Ana Lerario Geller Finds Inspiration In New Yorks Melancholy Beauty90588 1271083173 Ana Lerario Geller Finds Inspiration In New Yorks Melancholy Beauty90589 1271083183 Ana Lerario Geller Finds Inspiration In New Yorks Melancholy Beauty

All lookbook images: Carolina Palmgren, courtesy of Lerario Beatriz

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