News & Runway

Designer to Watch: Ariana Rockefeller (Yes, That Rockefeller)

image: Stephen Lovekin, Getty

Ariana Rockefeller, image: Stephen Lovekin, Getty

Her last name is one of the most well known in American history but Ariana Rockefeller is hoping her new womenswear collection speaks for itself. While the philanthropist and fifth-generation Rockefeller officially launched her eponymous lifestyle brand last year, her new Spring 2014 collection clearly shows the designer is just hitting her style stride.

"I'm inspired by what I want to see hanging in my closet," Rockefeller told me. "It's easy, comfortable, classic, and suitable for travel that requires layers." I caught up with the jet set All-American to learn more.

Julie Bensman: This is the second complete collection you've put out. What have you learned since doing the first one?

Ariana Rockefeller: To simplify while still enjoying the creative process. You don't always have to reinvent the wheel, or get bound up in too many details. Perfecting the pattern for a classic blouse and then mixing it up with different fabrications, colors, etc. is a way to keep things fresh, but maintain a classic and reliable line with fit and form.

JB: The new collection features some major pops of neon. Why do you think this is a trend we will continue to see?

AR: A pop of neon infuses any collection with a sense of fun. Wearing color states you are confident enough to be noticed (and confidence is beautiful!).

JB: Which are some of your favorite pieces in the new collection?

AR: I've been wearing the Nadia tunic dress and the Lila bow-tie blouse with jeans a lot. They're just so easy.

Nadia tunic dress and the Lila bow-tie blouse.

Nadia tunic dress and the Lila bow-tie blouse.

JB: If you could do a style collaboration with any brand, which would it be and why?

AR: J.Crew! I basically live in my line, J.Crew jeans, cashmere and T-shirts. It would be exciting to work with such a large company to bring my vision to a more mainstream level.

JB: New York Fashion Week Fall 2014 is coming up soon — which are your favorite shows each season?

AR: I always love Reem Acra. She made my 30th birthday gown and I admire her greatly as a designer. Her shows are always amazing productions.

JB: What's the best style advice you've ever received and from whom?

AR: From my friend and mentor Harlan Bratcher, who is V.P. of Armani Exchange. When I was starting my business, he said, "All you have is your integrity." You have real style when you stay true to yourself and your vision.