Living Designs: Lara Miller's Spring 2012 Collection Loves to Play

Jamie deGraaf

Lara Miller designs clothes that want to be you. “Your clothes become a part of you, and you a part of them—I want to let you make the clothes even more you,” says Miller.

Adaptability is the moniker for the effervescent designer’s spring 2010 collection which was showcased at the Art of Fashion runway show on October 21. Miller’s new hand-loomed collection experiments more with color, keeping its signature appeal and adding more pop. The designs demonstrate her infatuation with light, reflections and prisms with bold colors and geometric cuts.

The trademark “flipability” of Miller’s hybrid hand-patterned and draped designs allows a wearer to don a garment upside down or backwards and add a pin and tuck here and there with hooks and eyes. Each piece can be custom ordered with various styles, sleeve lengths and colors, promoting self-expression in every garment.

Passionate about sustainability, Miller works with recycled cotton and bamboo fibers—a design choice that may seem limiting, but Miller says helps her stay focused. She loves to experiment with textures, the spring 2012 collection especially keen on webbing. “A lot of people think that sustainability dictates style. These pieces don’t look green. You have to overcome the stigma that eco-friendly means crafty.”

Miller feels a personal responsibility to be eco-conscious, saying “Manufactures are responsible; consumers are responsible. We don’t have endless supplies.” She also acknowledges the perks: “I can be a bit frugal and get more use out of one piece.”

Piggybacking off this passion for sustainability, Miller’s design philosophy also centers on supporting the local economy and community she is a part of. “I get excited about Chicago; its fun to buy local and I take pride in it.”

Further expressing her love affair with the city, Miller’s designs show influence of the architectural and cultural landscape of Chicago. She loves the transformation of the skyline from morning to night, noting it as a source of creative inspiration. “There is this very regular old building on the water’s edge that I love. It’s nothing special, but when it gets dark, it lights up in an arc and it’s just stunning. I love this nuance. I see this in my designs. There may be limited hanger appeal, but on my pieces come to life.”