Rachel Roy may be a favourite of Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Michelle Obama (not to mention a collaborator with everyone from Amar'e Stoudemire to her mentor, Deepak Chopra), but a top-drawer clientele isn't entirely who she has in mind when she is plotting out her collections. "I design for women like me, who are working, raising a family and wearing a million hats," she explains. Glamorous pieces with everywoman appeal are at the heart of her diffusion line, RACHEL Rachel Roy, which is currently being carried exclusively in Canada by The Bay. Its accessible pieces for day and night range in price from $45 to $300, lending ballast to her claim that high style should never be far from reach.
You have created a jewellery line with Estelle, a sportswear collection with the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire and now a capsule collection of T-shirts bearing inspirational messages with Deepak Chopra. How do you pick the people you work with?
One of my favourite things about designing for the RACHEL Rachel Roy line is being able to be more experimental. As a result, I have had the amazing opportunity to collaborate with different people to create something innovative. I often collaborate with those who are complete opposites from me. I love how that plays into the design process.
A portion of proceeds from the sales of the Deepak Chopra T-shirts support education in India. Why is this cause important to you?
I'm half Indian and to be able to give back to the children of India in this small way through the Chopra Foundation is something that was so easy to do.
You call sweater coats the season's must-have item. What's the best way towear them?
I think of them as an alternative to your everyday outerwear jacket. The Monica and Wanderer sweater coats from my fall collection are really meant to make a statement. I like to wear one over a casual tee and dressier pant. However, you can dress it up or down with a switch of accessories. The Fisherman Cardi coat is my go-to layering piece. It's neutral and goes over anything.
At the other end of spectrum is the Deco Sequin Dress in your party capsule collection. What's your favourite way to style it?
It obviously stands alone as a holiday party dress, but you can pair it with a turtleneck or blazer and tights for a super-classy work outfit.
You are a native of Monterey, Calif., and have collaborated with pro surfer Karina Petroni on one of your lines. Your outward appearance of modern glamour aside, are you a surfer girl at heart?
I am actually terrified of being in the water, but I love being near the ocean. The sun and the beach are so cleansing for me – a complete escape from my hectic life.
You have two daughters, ages 12 and 4. Do they take your style advice?
My 12-year-old still loves for me to dress her. She is creative and loves to sing. My four-year-old is headstrong and likes to put her own outfits together; she may one day run the business. Each child is so different, but, at the end of the day, they just want, like us, to feel secure, confident and happy in their skin.
How would you describe your style?
I have always been about mixing the opposites; I love that when I get dressed in the morning I can be a bit of a chameleon and dress for who I want to be for that day. I think great style begins with taking risks [to find] what is true to you.
What would you call your biggest fashion ta-dah moment?
My ta-dah moment was really an aha moment. It occurred when Oprah called me the next big thing in fashion on her show. From the minute she said it, I have wanted to live up to that.
This interview and has been edited and condensed.