The woman behind Donna Leah Designs wants to be sure her brand makes a positive difference in the world! Here’s how
By Chere Di Boscio
If the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of ourselves in mind and body. Evening gown designer and fashion enthusiast Donna Leah knows this well.
She is the founder of Miami based Donna Leah Designs, and recently, has focused her attention on the small things that can make a big impact on our wellbeing – like getting dressed up. Because every item in the Donna Leah Designs collection is the result of a highly thoughtful and spiritual process, for her, the act of getting dressed up represents a new category of wellness and self-respect.
While the idea to launch the brand came together after years of studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and dreaming about fashion and design from a young age, it’s pure happiness that acts as the fuel for her collections. Cheer is reflected in the bright colours, sophisticated designs, and surprising details in her work. They all give the wearer as sense of confidence and, of course, happiness.
And speaking of happiness, Donna Leah aims to bring this to more people through a recent charitable endeavor she has been working on.
Here, Donna Leah shares her personal perspective on the approach and processes that guide her work.
The DLD Approach To Design
In creating the perfect gown, there is a dance between art and functionality. I believe a well-designed gown brings out the inner beauty within each of us. That’s the feeling that I want women to have and it is the true purpose of the garment. If a design doesn’t feel right – if it doesn’t express our true self – then it’s not a good fit. There has to be a balance between the artistry of the gown and how it makes a woman feel.
My training at the Fashion Institute of Technology and also being self-educated from a young age taught me to think about design with details that you can’t really see. It’s more of a feeling. The process is about sitting and sketching in my studio and drawing anything from small ideas to entire collections that find their way onto my pad. Some inspirations can last for years, like a vision of autumn in New York from my student days, while others are more of-the-moment and relevant to a time that is very now.
Focusing on the details is an investment of time that is highly gratifying. It’s about creative thought, problem solving and working with an experienced team that has set the approach for me as a designer.
I believe that the new area of design focuses on emotions, detail, and colour. We need to feel beautiful, and wearing a gown, no matter the occasion, is one way to achieve that place of personal wellness.
Breaking Down The Creation Process
When my sketch pad is in front of me, on the blank page I start to formulate my vision. I always break the gown down into the garment’s finished state by its parts – occasion, detail, fabric and function. These components are the soul of the design. And it’s the consistent details that mark my brand as Donna Leah Designs. The success of a finished piece lies in how it makes me feel. If I feel confident, I know that others will too.
This is where the process becomes an emotional measurement. It begins with concepts based on an inspiration which can be physical or emotional. I then focus on the designs, which are hand drawn sketches and swatches of fabrics. My team then comes together to group the most compelling ideas and decide how the gown will be created. This is one of the most exciting parts of the process – it’s a spiritual journey to go from the sketch to creating a gown that reflects what you have been dreaming about in a refined and intricate way.
My main goal this season is to offer gowns that encourage women to do something for themselves and discover dressing up again. The process of doing this does not have to be complex or complicated. It’s about setting attainable goals that are straightforward and focus on what you love. I design so that I can wear gowns that make me feel confident with color, texture, and reflect my unique style.
Another way Donna Leah Designs is focused on creating happiness is through the act of giving back. My passion is designing gowns, but I also enjoy what many consider their most comfortable pieces of clothing: T-shirts. I love that it can be a powerful way to help others and that’s why I created the Donna Leah Designs Superhero T-shirt collection. It is more than just a collection that gives back – it’s a way to support a cause that makes a difference in the lives of children and their families in our local community.
The idea is to dedicate a percentage of profits to something that is more than the brand itself. With each purchase you make, a percentage goes into a mission that we care deeply about.
For example, we have contributed to the Milagro Center in Delray, Florida. The Milagro Center’s uniquely integrated programs focus on empowering children and their families to succeed, both in school and in life, having a resounding positive influence on the local community.
Everyone needs to have a dream and be able to achieve it. My dream of becoming a designer has come true and I feel that now is the right time to help others. I was moved by the amazing work of the Milagro Center and the sense of empowerment they are able to provide to the people they serve. It inspired me to create this line of T-shirts that helps bring awareness to the organization and generate much-needed funds.,” says Donna Leah, founder of Donna Leah Designs.
Ultimately, I want to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. When we do a positive act of kindness, it can empower us to do more good things!
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