With the Florida Derby this Saturday, we thought we would highlight one of the best designers who calls Miami home — Coconut Grove native, Arianne Brown, founder of the boho-chic Ramona LaRue line.
Arianne, a former model and Miami native, imbues a distinctive bohemian vibe in all of her creations.
Since launching her first collection in fall 2008, Arianne has grown her once-small line to impressive proportions while staying true to her hand-crafted bohemian roots. Having grown up hand-painting silk dresses to sell on the streets of Coconut Grove with her mother, Arianne started Ramona LaRue as a way to cope with her mother’s death and pay homage to her mother’s craft of hand-painting silk pieces. Arianne did not intend to start a fashion label, yet stores and customers alike immediately loved her hand-painted pieces, and Ramona LaRue quickly grew into the successful company it is today. While Arianne’s prints are now professionally transferred to silk, each design starts off with a one-of-a-kind silk painting, water-color or sketch, and is signed by the designer.
In Ramona LaRue’s Studio where Arianne’s paintings are transferred to silk and made into her original designs.
Along with head designer and owner Arianne Brown, the team consists of assistant designer and textile designer Cinthia Santos, design and production assistant Florencia Torlaschi, and client relations specialist Hanna Gotz. The four spend their days in their Midtown design studio or seeking inspiration in their new shop in the grove.
Hanna, client relations specialist at Ramona LaRue, shows off her Florida Derby outfit.
Ramona LaRue is now present in boutiques all over the world, as well as most major department stores. Their bold prints and strong bohemian silhouettes beautifully compliment any woman’s body and bring out the strong fearless confidence that Arianne’s mother embodied, carrying on the legacy of a true Miami artist.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Ramona LaRue design team who were in the midst of rescuing two puppies at their Midtown boutique and design studio when I arrived.
Arianne kindly agreed to have a Q&A with me as we talked about Miami style and what she and her team are going to be wearing this Saturday at the Florida Derby. Hope you are as inspired by Arianne’s creative spirit as I was.
Mary Dale: Where are you from?
Arianne Brown: Coconut Grove, Florida
MD: Who is your fashion icon?
AB: My mother, Stevie Knicks, Jane Berkin, Bridgette Bardot, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, Farrah Fosset.
MD: What designers do you admire most? Why?
AB: Roberto Cavalli, he stands by his design aesthetic from beginning to end and creates looks that are timeless and strong. I love his bold, fearless prints and that he is not afraid to push the envelope when it comes to fashion, while still remaining sexy and wearable.
MD: What inspired you to become part of the fashion industry?
AB: I grew up hand-painting silk dresses in the Grove with my mother.
MD: What other hobbies do you have?
AB: Anything related to animals and nature. I spend most of my free time with my animals at home and do anything I can to help animals in need.
MD: What is your current favorite spring Miami trend?
AB: I don’t commonly follow trends, but I love the bright colors that are trending for spring because I can find them all over nature and incorporate them into my prints.
MD: What do you look for when creating the perfect outfit?
AB: Something that makes me feel strong and sexy without compromising my personal style. I feel just as good in a flannel, jeans, and cowboy boots as I do in a maxi dress – or barefoot!
MD: What would you wear to the Florida Derby?
AB: Something fun and colorful that is comfortable enough to wear all day – I have chosen the Karina Dress, a long-sleeved tunic reminiscent of 60s shift dresses, in my green splatter bird print, and accessorized it with a belt, hat, and snake-skin peep-toe pumps for some added drama.
Arianne in her Florida Derby dress
MD: Is there any specific trend that you wish would come back?
AB: Feathered hair and bare feet!
MD: Your biggest fashion dos and don'ts at the moment?
AB: DO wear something that makes you stand out, feel fierce, and gives you an identity. DO NOT dress for anybody else or compromise your style or
MD: Describe your personal style in three words.
AB: Chic, Bohemian, tomboy… if that makes no sense, then I did a good job of describing my own style.
MD: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
AB: My mom always told me to live passionately, let myself hurt, let myself love, let myself be goofy and silly and enjoy life, to walk barefoot and not be afraid of failure.
MD: What differences do you see in Miami fashion versus other cities that you travel to?
AB: People in Miami don’t wear a lot of black … there’s not much of a noticeable difference in seasons and people aren’t afraid of colors, prints, or showing skin.
Cinthia, assistant designer at Ramona LaRue strikes a pose in her Derby outfit
MD: What show are you most excited about at this year’s Miami Fashion Week?
AB: I’m honestly excited for all of it! I love seeing everyone’s new ideas and running into old friends.
Florencia, production assistant for Ramona LaRue in her Florida Derby outfit.
Check out Ramona LaRue’s spring 2013 collection for some beautiful derby dresses online (http://www.ramonalarue.com/) or drop by one of their two Miami boutiques (Midtown: 3400 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127 or Coconut Grove: 3444 Main Highway, Miami, FL 3313).
With the design team as they showed me around their Midtown boutique and design studio.