Dallas-based fashion designer Lela Orr is rising to the top of the fashion world these days. As one of the most popular and talented contestants on Bravo’s Project Runway, her eco-luxury brand, Ferrah, is all the rage. Here, Lance Avery Morgan, spend time with her to learn the secrets of her meteoric success.
Photography courtesy of Lela Orr and Ferrah
Fashion is a very difficult business to achieve instant success. In the fleeting Insta-story of-the-moment world of high style and its influencers, designer Lela Orr and her design firm, Ferrah, is a breath of fresh air. Ethically designed and produced in Dallas, Orr’s brand name encapsulates her fashion design philosophy. The name Ferrah is derived from the root word for joy in Arabic. According to Orr, “Creating garments that bring my clients joy and have a positive transformative impact on one’s persona is the most important element of my designs.” She creates “eco-luxury” garments that are zero-waste, size inclusive, and have a sense of luxury with ease. Her professional ethic began as a child selling fruit drinks on her neighborhood corner and it’s been working to her advantage since, as she says, “I took lemons and made lemonade.”
Before she joined Project Runway, Orr worked for different fashion lines in New York. “The dream for me was to make it there and you know, it’s hard,” she confides. “There was a big adjustment because I’m not the best with crowds and there it’s all about crowds. I mean, your daily commute is in crowds. Your life is in crowds. That was a big change and it brought me out of my shell. It thickened my skin in a very good way.”
When we ask her about the heated season of the hit Project Runway she’s appeared on, she is quick to confide, “I was really excited about the show because you can learn so much from each other and how cool is it to be in a room with 15 other creatives who are doing what they love to do, and that’s what you’re doing, too? They’re making fashion their business, their livelihood. That’s so inspirational.” When asked about the series’ new mentor, former Project Runway winner-turned-star-fashion-designer, Christian Siriano, she’s admits, “It was incredible–I was a huge fan of his. He won when he was in his early twenties and he was just a super talent. You don’t really get access to talent like his, so it came full circle for me, having him be the mentor and having him help us in the work room. It was so surreal and–so cool.”
Successfully running her own design firm on her own now, she says, “I works as a team with my Ferrah business partner Lea Nyland, who is wildly talented. She’s from Denmark, and we have very different fashion philosophies, but coming together is the coolest part. We think that collaboration is amazing and that’s what makes my brand better. I was hoping to get that as well from being on Project Runway.”
Orr believes in offering a luxuriously realistic point of view to her clients. “I think that a woman’s body in any shape or form is beautiful. As I tell all of my clients, and I do a lot of custom work, there’s no perfect size. Actually, the average size now in America is a size 14. So, whenever women to come to me, and we all have our insecurities, I let them know I think that they should embrace their figure and shape. A bias-cut piece may sometimes not be forgiving, but it’s all about the drape to get a really flattering shape.”
Expect to see long lasting success from Lela Orr because, as she states, “I’m trying to encourage people that sustainability is not just a trend. It’s actually a movement and the future. So more people need to prove your practice of zero or minimal waste. Even if it’s in the smallest way.”