by Meredith Fisher
Ana Beatriz Lerario has come a long way since her days as an intern at Marc Jacobs. "When I started, I barely spoke any English," says the native Brazilian, "I was so nervous." Eight years later, she is not only the owner of industry favorite Fiftytwo Showroom, but has just wrapped the second season of her own line, Lerario Beatriz. "As a designer, I often became frustrated with the disconnect between design and sales," she says from her Tribeca office, "so I created a showroom that respected each designer's sensibility and vision." Becoming a successful wholesaler may not have always been her plan, but launching her own collection was, and Spring '06 marked the beginning of her eponymous line.
"I am trying to create collections that have a light and feminine feeling, but with an edge." That edge, while not necessarily visible at first glance, lies in the exquisite hand-detailing found in each piece. "The more you look at my clothing, the more you discover the special details." A simple purple henley, in soft cotton jersey, is fastened with handmade buttons and decorated with a hand-embroidered rainbow yoke. Another top features an oversized collar crocheted from strips cut out of the same jersey fabric. Not all the finer points are as subtle; a washed cotton dress is strikingly adorned with over a thousand wooden beads, sewn carefully onto each tier.
"A lot of the techniques I use come from traditional dressmaking," says Ana. For an eggplant-colored smock this Fall, "we rolled clear beads into silk chiffon, sewing them one by one into place." The translucent-edged dress looks perfect over a slim black turtleneck, or atop a pair of cigarette pants. Ana also combines contrasting fabrics to impart additional depth to some of her more classic pieces. A grey cashmere vest is striped with pale-green jersey, and a velvet motorcycle jacket is accented with leather. Other Fall standouts include a grey jersey skirt with a crocheted hem, and a green silk shirt that uses over ten different embroidery techniques. With her knowledge of the business side of fashion, Ana fills a void in the ready-to-wear market for "beautifully done clothes with couture touches that are approachable"—and, most importantly, wearable.
Ana Lerario uses delicate flourishes to give her ready-to-wear line a taste of couture.