Designer turns to dresses for muse

November 5, 2009 3:18:16 PM PST
Artists often gets their inspiration from a muse. But for one New York artist, that muse isn't really a person. It's clothes - dresses in particular, and it's ones that often are decades old. There's something about the past that the designer loves, and it's visible when she creates the dresses people wear today. "I started to collect when I was 11 years old, so it's something I was sort of brought up with," Reem Acra said.

Acra doesn't collect art, she collects vintage dresses. Some she finds abroad, but most she finds at flea markets near her Chelsea apartment.

And for her, the dresses are art. They're well kept, numbered and some are even displayed.

"Look at the colors," she said. "This could influence a whole collection between the pinks and the blue and the gold."

In fact, Reem says she's memorized her vintage collection. So when she designs, she calls on those images for inspiration.

And the result is that she creates dresses that have a timeless and regal quality. It's no surprise that royalty and celebrities wear her creations. Try on one her designs, and you understand.

It's why she creates and why she collects. But with more than 300 dresses, not to mention purses, she's run out of closet space. So, will she ever sell?

"I don't have any interest to sell," she said. "I'm a collector and I love to surround myself with all these luxury fabrics. And the beading, all these things that influence my life and my brand, I love them so much."

Acra designed her first dress when she was 5, and when she bought her first dress for her collection, she says she had to bargain for it. It's no doubt that she's a savvy business woman. Her line is sold all over the world, with gowns costing in the thousands.

For more on the designer and her line, visit

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