Dynamic, energetic, creative, and inspiring are all words I would use to describe designer, Marla Wynn. I so enjoyed my time meeting Marla by phone and listening to her vision for women 40+ and their style. She actually is someone I have been looking for….a youthful, relaxed, fun, affordable, stylish collection option with fit and women’s various body challenges in mind.
She introduces her new collection to the Home Shopping Network (HSN) Audience on Wednesday during these times:
Also, she is sponsoring a great giveaway with FAB OVER FIFTY. Read her philosophy and then check out her styles…I really believe you will be impressed with all this talented designer of 50+ is up to. Also, if you want to speak with Marla…here is her FACEBOOK LINK..
Pam: Please tell us a little bit about yourself: age, marital status, mother of how many
Marla: I'm a single mother of two wonderful children (most of the time!) who became young adults in the blink of an eye. My son is going to be 18 next month and I swear I'm still trying to get rid of the "baby fat"! Despite the fact that they are just beginning their lives we have much in common. All three of us are exploring new paths, learning about ourselves and filled with an amazing sense of possibilities. At 56, I feel as though I have this amazing bright future ahead of me and can't even image "retirement". I think it would bore me to death.
I had a great experience working in the entertainment industry, but I've really come into my own in the last couple of years and realize that my age is an asset and represents valuable experience I can use as I traverse this exciting new path in my life.
Pam: Briefly how did you go from TV producer to fashion design?
Marla: It may seem like a leap, but my career as TV producer was about bringing the right type of entertainment to the right audience, a parallel that applies to my approach in designing for women my age. As a TV producer your job is to learn from your audience, and as I began designing my first collection, I listened to my friends and discovered that like myself, they were finding precious little in traditional department stores that fit their changing lives, bodies (and in many cases their bank accounts!). Unfortunately, most fashion companies don't find it all that sexy to design for women 40+ and are all busy chasing size 8 women in their twenties. I am SO GLAD because it leaves the field wide open for The Marla Wynne Collection!
However, the "leap" took 5 bumpy years. It was scary starting out to do something I really knew nothing about. Sure, I had lived in Paris and learned a great deal from observing French women and their magnificent style, but translating that into actual garments was challenging. Finding financing, manufacturers and translating my vision into a meaningful product and business has been the hardest thing I have ever done. There were many tearful nights and moments of self-doubt. But, I got up day after day and worked from early morning to late at night. I applied the skills I had to the ones I needed to develop….and, finally, it is all paying off and coming together.
Pam: You said that French women each have their own style and flair...how do you think that is found and developed by a woman? What can we learn from French women?
Marla: French women don't chase fashion….they carefully select what will look best on them. They want to bring out their individuality and use their wardrobe as a canvas of self-expression. They are individuals comfortable in their own skin and embrace the good, the bad (and sometimes the ugly) and do it with such confidence that they exude a special "je ne sais quoi" that is deeply personal. They buy less but buy better and accessories are key. Scarves, necklaces, the right novelty pieces transform the simplest outfit into a look that is highly individual and sophisticated.
I try to give my customers that confidence by knowing that the cut is right, the fabric is right, the styling is simple and they are free to be their own designers….bringing out their individuality with the confidence to know they look great.
Pam: What are the most important simple, yet elegant basics?
Marla: I encourage every woman to find a pair of smart but comfortable pants, a flattering top, a great jacket or sweater and the "perfect little black dress" WITH SLEEVES!
Your basics should be easy….easy to care for and easy to wear. Everything in my closet ties back to black and I use accessories to make things different. Because I travel a great deal for work, I enjoy "basics" that are reversible or convertible some in some way so that I can transform my look from daytime to evening easily. The MarlaWynneCollection has a lot of these pieces because I consider them basics. When I travel – it has to fit in a carry on or it doesn't go!
Pam: We discussed how you are similar to Eileen Fisher....what are the similarities and the differences?
Marla: I am a big fan of Eileen Fisher, but she has become unaffordable, which is something I am very sensitive about as a mom with kids in college and a new full-time business. I remember having two school-age children and a mortgage as the economy tanked and the entertainment industry pulled back. It was terrifying and scary and was not the best time for any of us to invest in expensive clothes (however much of a boost retail therapy provides!) I would never sacrifice quality, design, and fit, so I have worked hard to price my collections so that they are something you, and I, can afford. We both favor "flow" in our designs and while I do include several boxy shapes, I prefer an A-line fit for tops that fall close to the breasts but give us room at our "centerpieces!”
I admire Fisher's success and understanding of her customer and the use of real women as her models. Similarly, I am using real women as my models for my upcoming fashion show at The Metropolitan Pavilion on September 29th. I have women from 15-80 wearing my clothes and several multi-generations of mothers/daughters/grandmothers who will be strutting their stuff down my very first runway show!
Pam: We discussed the problems women size 14+ face with finding great, chic clothes...why do you think that is and how can it change in the fashion industry?
Marla: This is a topic dear to my heart, as I've grown older and know how difficult it is to find "real" role models whether in the entertainment industry or the fashion industry. And without enough of these high-profile role models showing how flattering designs can look on women who are size 14+, there is little incentive for designers to focus on either these l influential tastemakers, or the audience they represent. Over 67% of all women in America are a size 12+.
I'm so excited to be presenting my first fashion show on September 29th at the FAB OVER FIFTY Beauty Bash in NYC, featuring "real" models ages 15-83. These are the women I design for and who wear my clothing, so it's important to me that my fashion showreflect them.
Pam: What is most important for Women 40+ to remember when building a wardrobe?
Marla: The most important thing is to realize that even though fashion changes every season, it's more important to buy what works with your personal style, shape and existing wardrobe than what's trending. Trends come in and go out. The basics stay. It's the same advice I give my daughter, but as a young women she is still experimenting and searching for her own style. When you're young almost everything "fits". Most fashion is designed to fit the youthful body. At our age, fit should be the number one criteria and I do think there is something called "age appropriate" that goes hand in hand with fit. Every woman, even the thinnest and fittest, thinks they have "icky bits" and they make us self- conscious and eat away at our confidence. Know your "icky bits" and look for a fit that flatters your shape with style and elegance.
Marla has the potential to do great things in fashion and I will follow her closely...thanks for talk, Marla, it was fun...call me for frozen yogurt anytime!
Have A Wonderful Wednesday and make sure you enter my drawing for a fabulous pair of shoes! Just click on the LINK.