Lela and her dog, Stitch.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin
Inspiration for the spring collection: The timeless spirit of Katherine Hepburn meshed with the glamorous femininity of Audrey Hepburn. I was reading my son, Grey, a book about Picasso and Matisse and I took him to see the paintings at the MOMA. Not pastels (persimmon, tomato red, bright gold, marine navy), but just right for spring. Coming from Texas, color is important to me. I never use black as a base. 

Must-haves for the Dallas woman: The bottle green anorak coat-dress and the yellow cropped jacket.

Her collaboration with Payless: The spring collection features eight shoe styles, two handbags, and a range of belts. [CEO] Matt Rubel’s ability to capture detail is great, and their commitment to quality and design for $25 is amazing. The designs are re-interpreted with lower costs, and prints are copied in less expensive fabrics. (In stores in February.)

Balancing work with motherhood: Grey is 6 and Rosie is nine months. There’s a big age difference which has been nice. It’s not so nerve-wracking. I’m at a great place in my career. I have the best of both worlds. I can be creative and then go home and be with the kids all weekend.

Favorite spots and going back to Dallas: In New York, Barrio Chinos has the best margaritas; Chinatown for spices; and Little Italy for food and eccentric knickknacks. I get back to Dallas (where mom and dad, Deedie and Rusty Rose, still live) once every two to three months. I always go to Uncle Julio’s to eat grilled quail. I love Neiman’s downtown, Forty Five Ten, and Stanley Korshak.

What’s next: I’m leaving for Paris to pick fabrics for fall [2008]. We are launching our bridal ad campaign this month and building the wedding business. Maybe in the next two years I’ll open a store—one in New York and one in Dallas.

Definition of style: Individuality and confidence. If a woman has confidence, she has style. Logos are not stylish; they are just statements.

(left) "Jade" clutches from the spring line. (right) A spring runway look.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin