Designer Rachel Roy seeks broader audience

New bridge collection flirty, edgy and classically feminine

Rachel Roy is telling a story that sounds a lot like many young girls who dreamed of making it big in the world of fashion. She was "that" 14-year-old who went out and got a job so she could paw through the racks at the Salvation Army in search of low-budget secondhand chic.

Then she drops a cherry bomb that separates her from the pack. Her Seventh-Day Adventist upbringing meant no TV, which seriously limited her exposure to the fashion inspirations readily available to her peers.

"My father was very strict. When he was gone, I watched whatever I could find on TV and usually it was old movies," Roy said.

Thus began her love affair with the 1940s, the time period that most influences her eponymous clothing collections.

"I was very inspired by women in the '40s because they were equal in femininity and in strength," she said.

Roy, 35, a mother of two girls, who recently divorced her hip-hop hubby, Damon Dash, is reaching out to a broader audience with a new bridge collection at select Macy's.

Rachel Rachel Roy is a "little sister" to her Rachel Roy Collection, which she launched in 2004 to critical acclaim from fashion insiders. Roy said her new collection, a joint venture with Jones Apparel Group, Inc., is in part, a reminder to young women (and maybe herself) that you can be more than the environment you were born into.

The collection, currently at Macy's in Lenox Square and North Point Mall, is both rock-n-roll edgy and flirty feminine in a range of prints, patterns and silhouettes. Priced from $40 to $300, the line includes apparel, shoes, handbags and jewelry.

"I'm most inspired by prints," said Roy, describing her creative process once she has chosen colors and fabrics. "I put it all up on the wall and it's a puzzle for me to look at." She then winnows that mishmash of color and print into a cohesive collection.

With four collections a year of Rachel Roy, and now the Rachel Rachel Roy collection, Roy said she sometimes struggles for balance. But all those hours logged at her ex-husband's former clothing label, Rocawear, where Roy rocketed from the mailroom to the marketing department and finally to creative director, paid off in experience.

"If you don't know all the aspects of the business you are trying to run, it's a deterrent to being successful," Roy said.

And her success is undeniable. Some of Hollywood's biggest stars are stepping out in Rachel Roy. In 2007, Roy was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America and appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, a professional high that Roy said "put me over the moon."

Though Roy says her new collection is geared to a younger woman, it certainly could appeal to women well into their thirties. Roy staples including subtle form fitting shift dresses, simple cardigans and pencil skirts, but even she has placed a personal order for items from the Rachel Rachel Roy collection, she said.

Somewhere inside of her that fashion hungry 14-year-old is still creatively plotting and planning, and with this latest endeavor, Roy is surely honoring her efforts.