Tenacious Trendsetter: Tracy Reese


Tracy Reese“I don’t want to design a skirt just because a skirt is needed to go with a particular jacket,”she told Joy Duckett Cain in Essence. “The skirt itself has to make you want to buy it.”

Known for her ultra feminine pieces, Tracy Reese was destined to design.  A native of Detroit, Michigan, she sharpened her sewing skills by competing with the women in her family to see who could complete an outfit first. Despite her quick sewing skills, she thought she would have a career as an interior designer or architect. It was a teacher at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School who encouraged her to apply for a summer scholarship for high school students at the Parsons School for Design in New York City. Not only did she receive the scholarship, but she also enrolled there for college receiving an accelerated BA in 1984.

After leaving Parsons she worked for French designer Martine Sitbon. Two years later she developed the confidence to start her own line in 1987 at the young age of 23. Though she gained placement in high end retailers like Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman, she unfortunately had to close her doors in 1989 due to low profits. However not long after, her former Parsons classmate, Marc Jacobs, helped her land a gig at Perry Ellis. After continued success in the industry, she felt that she was experienced and business savvy enough to become an entrepreneur again. She created her own line for The Limited; then, in 1996 she launched her label, Tracy Reese Meridian.  Her clothing lines have become some of the most sought after by fashionistas and celebrities alike. Fans of her garments include Michelle Obama, Eva Mendez, Paris Hilton and Vanessa Minnillo. Today she has a flagship store in New York, and her lines Tracy Reese, plenty and frock! can be found in the US in department stores and boutiques including Anthropologie, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom.

Still youthful at 45, Tracy seems to have a long career ahead of her. In 2007 she was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and is sure to be one of the fashion icons of our time. What’s next for Tracy? Check out her new Fall 2009 Ready to Wear line.

Photo courtesy of TracyReese.com

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Filed under Phenomenal Women, style

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