Last summer, while chatting with designer Suzanne Pelaez of Suzanne Rae, I made the exciting discovery that she had attended Bryn Mawr College around the same time that I attended neighboring Swarthmore. Part of the Tri-College group of Liberal Arts Colleges located outside of Philadelphia, the schools are much better known for their high intellectual values and rigorous workload than any sort of interest in fashion. Aside from my friend and fellow Swarthmore-grad, Joseph Altuzarra, most other students adopted a decidedly anti-fashion stance (and appearance).
I am mentioning all of this because it makes me enjoy Suzanne's work that much more, knowing her unusual background, and seeing how it influences the clothes she designs. Suzanne, like myself, studied Art History as an undergrad, and her collections often touch upon artistic or poetic references. For Fall 2012, Suzanne lists Jim Morrison, Aldous Huxley, and William Blake as sources of inspiration, and created clothes that were fueled by a quest for knowledge and spirituality. Suzanne's work always has a distinctly bohemian, without ever being Boho, vibe, and I particularly loved how she took rich, jewel-toned velvets and used them in a modern way. She also worked in wood and fur prints designed in collaboration with SamDakota, creating a sense of connection with the natural world. The result was poetically elegant and romantic, but decidedly unfussy--something that even my felow Tri-co students could appreciate.