Cynthia Rowley brings playful style to Belk

It’s not hard to identify a Cynthia Rowley design.

The award-winning designer’s trademark is a colorful, sporty style with a totally feminine and playful touch.

This fall, Rowley brings her well-known aesthetic to the South with the Cynthia Cynthia Rowley collection exclusive to Belk.

“I’m a New York designer but I have the aesthetic of colorful, feminine and sporty with a wink to some things, so I understand the Southern woman,” said Rowley during a recent visit to Atlanta. “For me, it is great because I can reach a whole new audience I may never have reached.”

Items from the fall collection — her first full collection for Belk — were unveiled for more than 600 guests at the annual Pink Ribbons Luncheon and Fashion Show earlier this month at the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead.

The event, which benefits the Georgia Breast Cancer Coalition Fund and the Metro Atlanta Breast Cancer Angel Fund of the Eric R. Beverly Family Foundation, included women who had survived cancer serving as models for the latest fashions. A silent auction featured everything from jewelry and spa treatments to shoes autographed by retired tennis pro Andy Roddick.

Rowley was a special guest at the luncheon and held a post-lunch meet-and-greet at Belk Phipps Plaza where guests were invited to shop the collection while enjoying dessert and coffee.

While many of Rowley’s designs are licensed in a number of categories, the collection for Belk is very customer-centric. “When you license something, you are designing for the world, but for Belk it is such vision already. They know the customer so well. It is easy and fun to apply my aesthetic to that customer,” Rowley says.

The vision this fall as seen on the Pink Ribbons runway includes a green ponte stud dress, skinny ankle jeans worn cuffed, printed pants and tees, ruffled dresses and this season’s go-to, a collection of playful Intarsia sweaters.

These sweaters — colorful cotton tops with three-quarter-length sleeves and a cat, owl, dragonfly or duck taking center stage — offer “the joy of a Christmas sweater, but none of the embarrassment,” Rowley says.

Also on the must-wear list for fall is real or fur leather trim on tops, pants, and skirts. Try pairing the playful Intarsia sweaters with a black leather pencil skirt or skinny jeans, Rowley says. Mix colorful bottoms, like her Geo Print Pant, with more conservative layers up top.

In addition to apparel, the current offerings at Belk include jewelry, shoes and bags, and will soon expand to items for the home.

The Belk collection is up-to-the-minute, says Rowley, having been designed right alongside her high-end Cynthia Rowley collection, though the price point of Cynthia Cynthia Rowley for Belk is more accessible.

It is a good thing for women on a budget seeking high style that Rowley believes it’s important not to reject trends but find ways to incorporate them into your wardrobe in a way that works.

With that strategy, she says, you keep all the fun and joy in getting dressed.