Serwah Asante designer for Rue114
Hi Serwah, thank you for doing this interview with MSSVG.COM! Can you tell us about Rue 114 and what the brand stands for?
Thanks so much for asking us to be a part of your launch!
Rue 114 is inspired by and created for women who believe that every shape and size should be celebrated as beautiful. We currently cater to sizes Small-3X. Inspiration for the Rue 114 brand is deeply informed by my Ghanaian roots, New York City upbringing, and eternal love of travel. Each collection is born of the global perspective and responds to the call of what today’s woman; whether in Laos, Lagos, or Los Angeles; needs to be edgy, unique, powerful, and always feminine. Our motto is: “Great style should come in all sizes because fabulous, fierce, kick-ass women come in all sizes!” It is what we live and design by.
I understand you are Full Figure Fashion Week’s Designer of the year 2013? What was that like!
Winning the FFFW 2013 Designer of the Year award was beyond my wildest imagination. It was my first official NY fashion show and the experience was amazing! I met so many wonderful people and it was a great affirmation to stay the course that I am on. I am deeply grateful to Gwen Devoe and the selection/ host committee for allowing me to be on such a platform and taking a risk on a small indie designer. I am so proud of how FFFW NY has grown and I am excited to see that more designers are offering a wider range of sizes.
So we are excited to be your first stockist in Europe and your clothes will be very different to what is currently on offer in the UK plus-size market. Can you explain your latest collection to us?
I am beyond excited to have Rue 114 cross the pond and so thrilled to be carried at MSSVG.COM! It is an amazing opportunity and platform. I think the London fashion is always on the vanguard and it is such an honour to begin growing our presence in Europe!
The current collection, “Prints-n-Scribes,” is our story through the medium of print, colour & form. This was our first Spring presentation, and the season immediately brings to mind rebirth, colour, and freshness that we hope to reflect in this collection. As we seek to constantly push the boundaries of modern, African-inspired fashion; we thought it appropriate to use prints as our foundation. Taking cues from the popular colour blocking trend, we re-imagined the aesthetic through the prism of “print blocking.” Needless to say, this is not your wallflower’s collection! Each piece in this collection is named after a fabulous friend who has encouraged and inspired us to keep dreaming big!! It takes a village!
We love the way that you subvert trends e.g. you have said that this collection reimagines the popular trend of colour blocking through the prism of print blocking. What does that mean and which trends will you be subverting next?
I think that central to my personality, and by extension my design aesthetic, is a big heaping of, “I’m going to do and say what I want!” Lol! I never want to hurt people and it is always good if people have a good association with who you are and what you do. But I cannot say that the opinion of others defines me. I’ve never been a follower and being a leader can become quite stressful. I am happiest just being my own person and learning from other people who have a strong sense of self. As such, I don’t set out to subvert. I just present through my vantage point. And in Serwah’s world, it all somehow makes sense!
In terms of how this dynamic plays out in my designs, I definitely like marching to my own drum artistically. A few years ago colour blocking was very popular and I loved that concept and thought it could translate into something really cool in prints. I think that my subversion is that I want to present the African aesthetic from a multitude of vantage points that goes beyond prints and khaki colonial wear. At this point in time, to celebrate that aesthetic, you have to be a bit subversive. The same holds true with having a line that caters to a wider sizing range. I don’t shy away from it but I honestly, cannot wait for the day when there is nothing subversive about African fashion or using plus models, when it is just about great style and artistic license.
What kind of woman do you imagine wearing your clothes and how do you want the clothes to make women feel?
The typical Rue Gal is bold a bit daring, not afraid to stand out in a crowd. She tends to have a strong sense of self and not afraid to incorporate new aesthetics into her wardrobe. I want my clothes to make women feel empowered, unique, beautiful and confident.
We understand you just finished the photo-shoot for your S/S14 collection, what can we expect form it and when will it launch in the UK?
I am excited for the SS’14 collection! It is definitely different! We are pushing the boundaries on African-inspired fashion and using different mediums to express our aesthetic. It will rely less so on prints but will still reference the African aesthetic, which is a common theme in our collections. We will be launching the new collection in the UK in March 2014.
The “Jacelle” Chevron print skirt in Navy print (matching top available)
Finally pick two items from this collection and tell us how you have been wearing them.
I love this question! I wear the “Jacelle” Chevron print skirt all of the time! I adore it!! It just fits so well, and adds a lovely pop of print and colour to the day. I wear it to the office, to church, out for drinks; it’s just a great and unique staple piece.
Another favourite of mine is the “Khoumba” Peplum ‘n Prints tank. It is incredibly versatile – just throw on a fitted button-down sweater to wear it to the office or pair it with a fitted pencil skirt for a sexy night on the town. It also features a removable snap-in panel for extra back coverage.