Rosie Assoulin doesn’t hide the fact that she’s scared out of her mind about her plunge into fashion designing. “I’m totally insecure right now,” she admits. “I hope people like this stuff. I hope people like it! But at the end of the day, I’m okay with how it came out.” But her candid humor, warmth, and creativity make both Assoulin and her collection of modern twists on classic Americana all the more endearing. It also doesn’t hurt that each look is cut out of luxe, Italian fabrics. A Fashion Week regular with close connections in the industry (the ManRepeller is in her coterie of close friends), Assoulin is a self-proclaimed “fashion student for life” (not to mention, once an intern at Oscar de la Renta and Lanvin). After years of appreciating design from the sidelines, she created her own line. “I was at Paris Fashion Week and when people would ask, ‘What do you do?,’ I just couldn’t say ‘nothing’ anymore,” she told us. “It was getting embarrassing,” she added, laughing.
Though it took some time for Assoulin to draw up the courage to launch her own line, fashion always seemed the only route for her — which both she and her husband (who grew up down the block from each other in Brooklyn) acknowledge. She’s gone from sewing disposable outfits made out of felt at age 14, taking a few classes at FIT, and interning to producing shapely, dreamy, timeless creations for the modern woman with her first collection. The resort line, which ranges from $600–7000, will be available at Five Story in New York and in select stores across the globe.
The Cut chatted with Assoulin about working with Alber Elbaz, her favorite movies (an Olsen twins flick included), her goals for her brand, and more. Click through the slideshow for a look at her first collection, which includes tops made out of cotton faille, pants inspired by JNCOs, crisp poplin button-downs, taffeta ball skirts, silk gowns, and more.
What prompted you to start off with a resort collection first?
We thought that it would be a nice time to introduce ourselves. It’s not runway season, there’s not all that crazy hoopla. It’s also just a very celebratory, fun season. You think of travel, holidays, friends, and family. It’s very refreshing and optimistic.
This collection has so many beautiful silhouettes and structural elements. Would you say this is influenced by your personal style?
It’s an ideal version of how I’d like to dress. I think that’s the starting point. [Laughs.] Hopefully that’ll evolve and include other women, but right now I’m okay with her. She’s company enough. I’ve always worn this stuff. I don’t feel necessarily that this is fashion-y, if that makes sense. I love fashion! But this feels very current and modern, rather than more trend-driven and transient.
You attended FIT for a short period. How did you pursue your own fashion education? Did any films inspire you?
Like, for half a second. [Laughs.] The Internet, movies — my interests were piqued through those avenues first. The films that I love and are very memorable have nothing to do with fashion, actually. But I watch Unzipped every three months. It’s like a drug, and it makes me very happy. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry. It’s like what Clueless was to me when I was younger. It’s my new Clueless. [Laughs.] But the films I love are all silly films. Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks. That’s just a movie I love. Then all the really cheesy stuff. Passport to Paris is really great. The Olsens — me and my friend, we used to just watch that in my friend’s basement like every day after school growing up.
Who are some of the women you’d love to dress?
When I think about my ideal woman, it’s never about their clothes. Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, and Julianne Moore — it’s never about their clothes. You think about their personalities. These clothes are not here to make you feel like somebody else. I want them to make you feel like yourself, not like armor or costume. I keep saying, “I hope it makes you make better decisions.” Whatever that means to you! Because that’s how I feel in these clothes.
What tends to catch your eye?
I just like anything visual. I’m a glutton. I’m basically a big glutton. I did event planning, love flowers, love celebrations. There’s a lot of formalwear, but in a very relaxed way. Like it’s your friend’s party, you want to go, and you want to have a great time. You don’t want to be pulling on your corset or tucking things in the whole time.
You’ve worked with so many big names in fashion. Do you have specific designers who inspired you?
I cry talking about it, but I love Alber very much. I don’t know why, but he makes me very emotional. He’s just so kind. He was very nice when he didn’t have to be, so I just really love him. He had no reason to allow me into that studio, but he did, and he changed my entire life. I interned for him and I remember I used to beg for them to let me into the little room where fittings were happening. And he knew how much I wanted to be there, and he let me in. Just the generosity. I think about him almost every day.
Where do you source your materials?
All Italian, as much as I love New York. Our fabrics are very much a part of this whole thing. You can’t really call it luxury if your fabrics aren’t luxury fabrics.
What’s the biggest lesson you took away from this experience?
How much I respect my husband, Max. He is absolutely amazing. And completely humbled by the fact that I couldn’t do this without him. It’s us doing this together.