Miami-based and New York raised Donna Leah has dressed everyone from Sharon Osborne to Cyndi Lauper with her unexpected and sexy designs. This FIT educated designer is proud to design for women of all ages and is currently based in Miami where the pace, rhythms and colors inspire her to design nearly everyday. Donna’s designs are so diversified and so fun that you’ll want to spend hours on her site, which is www.donnaleahdesigns.com. You can “get social” with her at www.instagram.com/donna_leah_. I just caught up with her this week to get the skinny on her unique clothing line that I just can’t get out of my mind!
What inspired you to become a designer in the first place and when did you discover a love of designing glamorous gowns in particular?
I feel as if I was born with a love of metallics, shine, and bold colors! Growing up my family was loving yet socially conservative and I felt that I could not truly express my ideas and attitude through what I wore. Many hours in my youth were spent dreaming and drawing the types of clothing that I wanted to have and how they would make me feel. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that glamour is an attitude and not based on a time of day. Designing glamorous gowns seemed like the perfect place to start when launching Donna Leah Designs. I design the type of clothing that makes me feel strong, bold, and as if I am my own superhero. That’s why so many of my designs have a shawl or, what I like to think, a cape.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in New York and I am a graduate of New York’s famed Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Growing up we were instilled with a sense of spirituality and a love of nature, which has been a strong influence in my designs. For example, blues are a reminder of the ocean and the sky, greens and golds are the colors of precious gems and lush foliage. “Heaven,” my favorite piece, features a stunning sequins gown with a matching cape in mauve, a color I identify with love and passion. A signature element of the collection are coordinating shawls that can be interpreted as a cape for women who embrace their individuality and are their own superhero.
You have a love of jeweled details and metallics. Do you think anyone can pull off a bold metallic look?
You have to wear confidence from the inside and take it out. For me, confidence comes from wearing what I love, jeweled details, metallics, and bold colors. The colors give me energy, the texture makes me happy, and the design a feeling that I can accomplish anything. It’s not really a question of “pulling off a metallic look”, but how does it make the wearer feel.
Have you engaged with any celebrities? Can you tell us about it?
I had the amazing opportunity to show the Donna Leah Designs collections at the Grammy Awards and Oscars this past year. Numerous celebrities are fans of the brand including Tanya Tucker, Cindy Lauper, Aerosmith, Roots, Cheap Trick, and Sharon Osbourne.
I notice that you also have some leisurewear in your line in bold prints. Tell us about it.
Now that people are spending more time at home, we have decided to launch a line of Donna Leah Designs loungewear that is inspired by the gowns. I wanted to create a line of loungewear that incorporates my love of dressing for myself with, of course, metallics in bright shades of blues, pinks, and purples. The cape in the design of my gowns has been translated into a hood for the loungewear collection. It’s like protection from emotional and physical elements and a way to embrace ourselves.
Can you give us a preview of trends in your new designs?
Color and shine will always be a standard in my designs. Right now, I’m loving deep oranges and greens. I’m also working on a t-shirt launch with words of empowerment that are particularly meaningful to me. The world is always changing, and can often be challenging, so it’s important to know who you are and express how you feel. It’s the basis of being a self-confident person that is able to handle and grow with the future. That’s why I am constantly thinking of new designs and ways of expressing myself.