by Amanda Jean Harris

Model Kaitlyn Stelly shows off Romey Roe’s latest collection slated for the INDStyle Awards Sept. 17. The Lafayette designer is pictured with hair and makeup artist Hellianna Verret, who is charged with all things beauty for Roe’s models.
Photo by Travis Gauthier

Life isn’t all sunshine and flowers.

But it is a garden, something of beauty even in the winter, even when the ground is barren and before the color of spring arrives. Designer Romey Roe is going to show us this truth in the most literal and divinely abstract way.

The Lafayette clothing designer is slated to show his largest collection to date at the INDStyle Awards Sept. 17 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in what has proven the most challenging endeavor of his young career.

“All of my collections have been really personal. It’s usually the experiences of my life and the people around me that inspire my lines. But this one hit really close to home,” Roe says.

In February, Roe and his family marked the one-year anniversary of the death of his beloved grandmother — herself gifted behind a sewing machine and an inspiration to Roe.

“She raised me along with my mother for most of my life and made me the person I am. She made my mother’s clothing and my aunt’s, and she was astounded when I started doing the same thing.”

The loss was great when Agatha Walker passed. It was Roe’s mother who took the loss the hardest.

“Her whole life — her mental state — it was very hard to see my mother like that, and that’s when I got the idea of the collection Welcome to the Garden,” Roe says. “It represents gardens and rebirth and the process of living and dying. It’s a big transformation. It’s the cycle of life.”

He says his mother in her grief is beginning a new phase — a bloom — as she moves to a place of acceptance. And it’s all going to be reflected on the runway with an ambitious collection both emotionally and technically.

“You’re going to see a lot of flowers and transition from black to white to color and showing that evolutionary process.”

The first portion of the collection was complete for Fashion Week in New Orleans in the spring, and pieces have been photographed for a feature in Destin’s Coastal Lifestyle magazine. The second part of the collection won’t be seen before the INDStyle runway show.

Roe will also show this collection in the 2015 South Walton Fashion Week as the returning winner of the Emerging Designer Award. By day he’s working at Social Southern Table & Bar, and by night he’s sewing fast and furious on a collection filled with formal and floor length gowns galore and a smattering of hand-painted fabrics. If you can’t afford designer fabrics, you make it work.

“In the midst of trying to inspire and make my dream come true — just as every artist struggles — you have to make a living, and I’m still bartending during the day to keep the dream alive,” he says.

That dream is to create work that moves people, pushes the limits of his own abilities and yet focuses on what he does perhaps best — make beautiful dresses (rather than collections that include more separates or pants).

“I’m hoping to reach a part of the audience I haven’t before — we’ve all lost a loved one and seen the effect that it’s had on those close to us, and that’s something we can all relate to. This is appreciating life and the rebirth process that each individual goes through, the depression and when we finally start to get our color back. We never fully heal, but we do bloom.”