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What Lela Rose Learned About the Plus Size Customer Designing for Lane Bryant

Shocker: She's not that different from the straight size customer.

She's dressed everyone from the First Lady to Kate Middleton and now, thanks to a collaboration with leading plus size chain Lane Bryant, Lela Rose joins a growing roster of designers dressing the plus size customer. 

Rose follows Isabel and Ruben Toledo, who first introduced their collaboration with the retailer during the 2013 holiday season. This isn't Rose's first mass-market collab either; the designer was a part of the 2012 holiday Target/Neiman Marcus collection and worked with Payless on a shoe line.

"The most exciting thing for me is the democratization of fashion, and not every designer gets a chance to do that," Rose told me at a cozy presentation of the line. "We live in our own price point, in our own world."

This is, however, the designer's first foray into the plus size market. "We've always had customers coming and asking, 'Why don't you do this in my size?'" and our only answer has been that our retailers don't really service that customer," she explains. It's this combination — lower price point and higher sizing capabilities — that made the collaboration with Lane Bryant a draw for Rose when the retailer came calling.

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Rose asked the Lane Bryant team for feedback during the process, and beyond helping with seaming and technicalities, she found her design philosophy didn't have to change at all for the plus size customer. "I asked the Lane Bryant team to give me some things their customer will do or won't do, and all they really said was, 'Our customer loves sleeves if you can offer that,'" she says. "I was like, oh my gosh, that's all I hear from our retailers — 'We want sleeves.'"

The resulting collection is pure Lela Rose: watercolor prints, delicate lace and perfectly tailored pleating. "[Plus] women don't want anything that different," she explains. "They want to look feminine and pretty, they want to have great color, texture, and detail, and they want to show off neckline and collarbones."

"I felt like she was the same as who we design for in our ready to wear collection," Rose continues. "My job is to design clothes that make you feel great when you put them on." 

No doubt she's achieved that with this collaboration. Lela Rose for Lane Bryant hits stores April 2015, and you can browse the full collection below.