Rachel Roff of deLange Designs knows her customer well: In a nutshell, she’s Rachel. “She’s not afraid to be herself,” says the Minneapolis-based designer whose summer collection of edgy ballerina-esque dresses debuted at the Black Hearts Ball in February to thunderous applause. “She likes to use color and vibrancy to let her personality shine. Honestly, she’s a lot like me.”
A native of Ontario, Roff, 26, was a marketing major at Calvin College in Michigan when, looking for a hands-on project, she first began putting together clothes for herself from pieces she unearthed at thrift stores. “It was very folksy,” she explains. She used her marketing chops to produce her own fashion show, and was hooked. Roff moved to the Twin Cities in 2009 to take design courses at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and she’s been crafting from-scratch looks for the modern woman ever since.
PHOTO BY GREGG JIRACEK
Though Roff is usually inspired by fabric texture and colors, her Black Hearts Ball collection was inspired by its models. Since the show featured performance art rather than a traditional runway, Roff reached out to local choreographers for ideas. She found her muses in the young dancers at the Legacy Dance Studio.
Always a fan of dresses, Roff’s summer looks embody strength and movement. There’s a sense of empowerment in the designs (due in no small part to bold prints and exuberant silhouettes), but they also boast her signature feminine style: see the tulle underskirts and a careful use of shimmer for proof.