Black, White & Modern: Studio Visit with Designer Wayne Lee

Black, White & Modern: Studio Visit with Designer Wayne Lee
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I bought a WAYNE bodysuit this year from Barneys New York, and ever since I’ve been captivated by designer Wayne Lee’s modern and wearable clothing line. Launched in 2007, Lee started her career in fashion as a buyer at Barneys, was a 2009 CFDA/VOGUE Fashion Fund finalist and has also won an Ecco Domani Fashion Fund award.

Last week, I stopped by her studio in Manhattan’s Fashion District to revisit the Spring collection and found myself talking to Wayne about everything from artist collaborations to designing while pregnant. Read through to find out more about this rising talent, and click through the slideshow above to see my snaps of the chic WAYNE offices and some exclusive backstage pictures of the show.

Who is the Wayne Woman?

She’s a professional, she’s creative, she’s stylish, she is intelligent and she’s free.

StyleCaster: How has motherhood been?

Wayne Lee: [Having a child was] kind of like a rebirth for me. It’s life changing. Spiritually, emotionally. It makes you want to work more efficiently. And when I was pregnant…I was [getting] bigger and bigger each month. It’s kind of like when I design, the process starts with me and what I want to wear next season, how do I see the Wayne girl evolving her collection from last season to next season and how does it stay in her wardrobe, aesthetic wise and quality wise. So this season, you see a lot of backless bodies here because I was kind of feeling big and couldn’t really fit myself into these skin-tight body-con dresses anymore. [laughs]

When you design do you normally have a theme or an idea in mind, or is it more like an organic evolution of your line?

It really is mostly more of an evolution of my line. I come from a buyer’s background. I would always have that “what sells well” or “what bodies work for me,” that kind of outline in my head. At the same time, the ideas sort of just pop up naturally. Like this season, [with the painter] Benjamin Degen I’ve wanted to work with him for a while. I really like his paintings and it just felt natural just to approach him this season [to do a print for the collection].

You showed at Milk Studios during fashion week. I was reading an article about Charlotte Ronson in the New York Times about the pressure to design press-friendly extra pieces when one has a runway show. Are you ever tempted to design “show pieces?”

Well, every piece that I show on the runway is wearable…[although] sometimes it could be styled in a way it looks like it’s not. But if you break every piece down, it’s very wearable and very affordable. I am a contemporary designer and I like to keep the direction flowing in that way. Every piece has to wearable, it has to fit, it has to cover the right areas it can’t just be crazy because otherwise it’ll be like couture.

So what’s your favorite piece from the Spring collection?

There are a lot of nice pieces in this collection. I can say I really love this dress [looks 6 and 25 from the runway show]. It’s a halter dress and it’s the same body [in two different fabrics]. It’s a really beautiful summer piece. It has enough details in it so you don’t really need to style it a lot.

For more on Wayne Lee, visit her website.

Studio Photos: Truc Nguyen
Backstage photos: Misha Vladimirskiy

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Spring 2012 looks on display in the showroom.

A well-accessorized mannequin.

Storage as art!

Chic wooden sculptures and a modernist's dream calendar on display at the Wayne showroom.

The Spring inspiration board and a portrait of the designer.

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