4 Questions With Tracy Reese

The A-list designer chats about black fashion designers, inspiration and running a business.

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2011 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York (Getty Images)

In a fashion world where designers come and go for all manner of reasons -- stylistic as well as financial -- Tracy Reese has been able to sustain her label through the years, growing it into one of the more successful and popular lines by a younger generation of American designers. Reese showed her Spring 2012 collection on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in front of an audience that included A-list black notables including entertainers Angela Bassett, Aisha Tylor, Selita Ebanks and Solange Knowles. Before her show, she talked to The Root about her work and surviving in the fashion world.

The Root: Are you surprised that you're one of the few black designers showing at this level here at New York Fashion Week?

Tracy Reese: Yes and no. I think that we're around, but I would love it if we had a greater presence. But as a community, I think it depends on where the focus is with our business sense and entrepreneurship. Maybe fashion hasn't been the No. 1 focus for us. But I'm here.

TR: Who is the woman you're designing for?

Reese: There are so many women; I would hate to break it down to just one. I think that what's really most important to me is that I embrace a lot of different women, of different shapes, sizes and colors. I want to create something that's going to enhance each of these women and make every woman feel beautiful.

TR: What's the biggest lesson you've learned in your years in the business?

Reese: Delivering a quality product always trumps everything. If you can deliver a beautiful, quality product on time, then that's the foundation for your business. And there has to be a lot of value in the clothing for people to part with their money. People want the things they purchase to do a good job for them. They want it to last.

TR: Where do you draw inspiration from, and what inspired you for this collection?

Reese: I am inspired by so many things. We've been looking at films like Indochine and Painted Veil and all kinds of stuff. Music always inspires me. Beautiful interiors inspire me. I love decorative art. You can take a trip to the museum and just rip for days.

For this collection, the inspiration was more-abstract art and some gorgeous real florals that we sort of did a lot of treatments on and then Photoshopped. A lot of times the prints do start the wheels going for each collection.

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