Argentinian-born, Brooklyn-based womenswear designer Alicia Rodriguez is the founder of the collection Luisa et la Luna, a fashion forward line of clothing for modern women with a strong emphasis on fabrication and playful proportion. A Luisa et la Luna piece is easy to identify: strong shape but feminine enough without crossing into a precious territory. Rodriguez had years of design experience before she decided to launch her own line- the time spent honing her skills as Rebecca Minkoff’s head of design prepared her for running her own business. The photographer Lina Scheyniu is an influence in Rodriguez’s work – each season Rodriguez challenges herself to redefine femininity. By doing so she creates clothing that allow women to feel both strong and vulnerable at the same time.
When did you move to New York?
I moved to New York City in March, 2000.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
I knew early on that I wanted to be involved in any visual-related platform. Fashion and design always interested me, but I also have such an admiration for photography & art direction. I usually find myself looking at photography everyday at different times, it’s kind of my thing every time I have a moment to zone out- photography is my daydreaming outlet I guess.
Actually at some point I was a bit tired of working in fashion and decided to study art direction at Central Saint Martins during one summer. It was definitely an eye opening and enriching experience. I loved stepping out from fashion for a bit and explore other medias related to it, but have a bigger picture approach and help create mood or concepts around any imaginery.
What were some of your biggest take aways from your time as head designer at Rebecca Minkoff?
Working with Rebecca was an amazing experience! I started working with her as an intern when she first started her clothing line way way back when I first arrived in NYC and I barely had any work experience here. So I’ll always be grateful as she was the first person that gave me a first chance. And I was beyond excited once she reached out to me to step in once she started with her clothing line again. Designing for her was always lots of fun and I definitely got the chance to meet lots of interesting people and projects.
How did Luisa et la Luna come about?
Luisa et la luna started 3 and 1/2 years ago after working for many years as a fashion designer. I had always dreamed about having my own brand at some point and I felt it was the right timing to finally take the plunge and do it! It has definitely been a fun ride ever since.
Texture and strong shapes are signature components of your brand. What are some of your favorite fabrics to work with?
I feel like texture and shape always define my collections, I always love to work with very such a range of textural fabrics such as dobby cottons, Japanese cottons and gauze, any viscose and linen blends are always a favorite.
How do you interpret femininity in your design aesthetic?
Good question! I think femininity is always a recurring theme that I like to reinterpret each season. I’m always trying to redefine what is feminine, and push that concept into something that feels modern, fun and strong, but yet with a feminine perspective that never goes too girly or precious or pretty. I was thinking the other day, how I want to design garments for women that never feel like a costume or restricted, just a version of their real self.
As a visual creature, I always loved the way Lina Scheynius’s photography projects a very raw, dreamy, poetic vision of women in the most intimate and personal way- showing that femininity can also be strong and vulnerable at the same time. I find I just love how she portraits her life with a casualness and honesty that is both touching and beautiful and intimate, and voyeuristic. And I’d like to think my clothes also reflect that vision of femininity as well.
What does Luisa et la Luna mean?
The name is a combination of my daughter’s name Luisa and her favorite book in Spanish which is Mom will you bring the moon for me? that I found one summer I spent in Barcelona at the cutest little bookstore at Saint Cugat. At the end of the day, you want a name that feels personal yet meaningful to your universe.
Who are some of your biggest design influences?
Designers: Lemaire, The Row, Ter et Bartine, Celine, Sophie Buhai
Also I’ve been looking a lot recently at art and modernist arquitecture references such as Oscar Niemeyer, Diego Giacometti, Jean Pouvre. I am also, by nature, quite a nostalgic person, and my teenage years were during the 90s so I have recurring references such as Mark Borthwick 90s imagery, Maison Margiela, Jil Sander, Peter Lindberg, Camille Bidault Waddington, etc.
What is a day in the life like for you as mother and designer?
I usually wake up at 6am to take Luisa to school, we live in Williamsburg and she goes to the Upper West Side for school, so it’s quite the commute and then I’m in zombie mode all day! I’m definitely not a morning person. Now she is out of school, I love taking her to ukulele lessons or pottery class, she enjoys doing lots of creatives things over the summer and it’s super fun to see her enjoy and explore doing those things
What are some of your go-to Summer pieces from the current collection?
I have to say my favorite piece is the Heidi jumpsuit, I have lived in this piece all summer! I love the relaxed silhouette, but also the textured gauze fabric gives it a more unique and elevated feel than your regular everyday workwear jumpsuit. The most humbling and rewarding thing is when people stop you on the street and ask you about it!
As a designer, what do you enjoy most having established your own brand?
What I love most about having my own brand is that it is always pushing me to have clarity about what I’m doing when most of the times I don’t or I’m uncertain about what direction to take. So I’d say is a combination of being able to try lots of new things, listen to myself, and act on intuition. And also to embrace the fact you don’t know everything. Having your own brand is 20% design and 80% running a company and building a brand is a whole different animal that takes tons work, dedication, contacts, and years of hard work.