I am super excited to be partnering with Donna Leah Designs and this week on Keeping Up With Coco I wanted to shine a bright light on Donna Leah herself. Donna Leah is the founder of Donna Leah Designs, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) graduate, and Miami-based gown designer who is known for her love of color and dedication to giving back to meaningful causes. Over the past few months, she has also been on a mission to inspire women to discover dressing up again.
“I always wanted to be a designer from the earliest days of my youth and create the types of styles that reminded me of Old Hollywood movies. I have a deep desire to bring back that level of sophistication,” Donna Leah reminisces. At Donna Leah Designs, every item in the collection is the result of a highly thoughtful process. While the idea to launch the brand came together after years of studying and dreaming about fashion and design, there is one specific element that acts as a connector for the entire collection, it is emotion with elements of spirituality.
The launch collection solidified her deep inspirations from nature. Powerful yet feminine pieces, with bold colors and textures, acted as the unifying statement for the brand. “Heaven,” Donna Leah’s favorite piece in her inaugural collection, featured a stunning sequins gown with matching cape in mauve, a color she identifies with love and passion. The theme of the cape has been used to further communicate the sense of empowerment that she wants all women to have. “I want women to feel that they can be their own superhero. That the power to feel happy and accomplish goals lies within them.” Other pieces in the collection follow suit in their bold hues with designs that are meant to make the wearer content no matter the time of day.
In creating an idea for a gown, Donna Leah breaks down the vision that she has of a garment’s finished state into its parts – occasion, detail, fabric, and function. These components are the soul of the design. “It’s the consistent details that mark my brand as Donna Leah Designs. The success of a finished piece lies in how it makes me feel. If I feel confident, I know that others will too,” describing her design process.
Her current collection is not focused on a season, but emotions. “I believe that gowns truly don’t need a season but are tied to emotions. If it makes you happy, wear it!” For Fall/Winter, Donna Leah celebrates the beauty and strength of women in mind and body. As an expression of her inner confidence, the new collection features form fitting gowns in vibrant colors. Her aesthetic uses elements of surprise with interesting fabric textures that evoke a modern feminine edge.
“Autumn can be an inspiring time to make a change. That’s why I chose bold colors for my gowns as a way to communicate a message of the inner strength and positivity that we all have within us. I’m also very focused on the color sapphire as I’m drawn to it for its healing properties, something we all need right now,” says Donna Leah. “It’s the perfect time to try new colors as the base of a look or as an accent within the design. I’m drawn to gem-tones including the blues of sapphires and the colors of the seasons like gold, green, and rust. When I studied at FIT in New York, the colors of the leaves in fall left an impression on me. That image in my mind is still my inspiration.”
The themes of challenges, change, and opportunity have focused Donna Leah on a mission of encouraging women to discover dressing up again. She often explains how dressing up will improve a mood, enhance self-confidence, allow women to embrace their personal style, and lead to a discovery of new brands. “Although, now more than ever, we have all come across some unexpected hurdles regarding our goals for the year, we can practice a positive thought process to influence the outcome of the day. As yourself ‘How do I want to feel today?’ and spark that positive energy.”
As a complex designer, Donna Leah is, on one hand, focused on glamorous gowns and on the other hand meaningful t-shirts that are embellished to further make a poignant point. It’s one of our favorite and most comfortable pieces of clothing, but it can also be a powerful way to help others.
The Donna Leah Designs Superhero t-shirt collection is more than just a piece of clothing. It’s a way to support a cause that makes a difference in the lives of children and their families in local communities.
“The idea is to dedicate a portion of profits to something that is more than the brand itself,” explains Donna Leah. “With each purchase you make, a percentage goes into a mission that we care deeply about. We wanted to make a difference and inspire others to do the same. When we do a positive act of kindness, it can empower us to do more good things.”
The reason for Donna Leah’s steady growing buzz is straightforward: the styles make a strong statement while being glamorous and unique at the same time. “In a world that is always changing, and can often be challenging, it’s important to know who you are and express how you feel. It’s the basis of being a self-confident individual that is able to handle and grow with the future. That’s what I hope my designs bring to women here, and hopefully, in the future, around the world.”
Thanks again to Donna Leah Designs for sponsoring and collaborating with me on this post!