"It's safe to say that being a fashion designer is really a dream come true for me," says designer Marlena Ruiz, who often asked her mother to assist on childhood sewing excursions. "I saw one of [these creations] the last time I was back home. Yards and yards of red taffeta with a black velvet bodice -- yikes!"
Her adult design inclinations involve less velvet and a whole lot more jersey. Her label, Riller & Fount (named after an antique quilt from a family in east Texas embroidered with the family member's names), consists mainly of slinky separates and dresses in buttery modal jersey. "But just this year we added a woven fabric," Ruiz points out. "It, too, is super-soft and has beautiful draping qualities, but it's a nice alternative when you want something that's slightly more easy-breezy."
Guided by the philosophy "less is more," Ruiz specializes in the kinds of pieces that one might easily sport to a picnic or cocktail hour with just a quick change of shoes.
Her maxi dresses, a particular highlight of the collection, are an ultimate easy-going staple for the designer. "I think there are definitely times when we want to just take in a deep breath and exhale all of the stress in our lives," she says. "For me, I know that my mood can be affected simply by what color I'm wearing or how at ease I feel in my clothes. Maxi dresses are not only feminine and comfortable, they are effortlessly chic and relaxed."
New fabrics will continue to be incorporated into the jersey selection as time goes on, including a french terry for fall and their first ever print. "I've always considered leopard print as a basic," says Ruiz. "So I think it will absolutely become one of our staples." Coming from a woman who has an unnatural handle on what constitutes a true staple, we'll take her word for it.