Creative Spotlight: Suzanne Rae
Brooklyn designer Suzanne Rae carries herself and her brand with social awareness, creativity and responsibility. She hasn't jumped on to the feminist bandwagon for the cool factor, but as a mother and female entrepreneur, she masters the feminine and feminist into the DNA of her brand. In this interview she breaks down the relationship between the two aspects, her thoughts on the #metoo movement, and how to juggle work and motherhood.
DNAMAG: In a former career path you were in medical school. What profession would you have pursued had you stuck it out?
SR: Was thinking about either pediatrics or geriatrics, and leaning towards the latter. Although, if I were in that position today, I'd go for the former.
What was the defining moment that allowed you to take that leap from med student to design student at Parsons?
My acceptance letter from Parsons. I had applied way past the deadline in the late spring just before the start of the school year and thought: well if they accept me then it was meant to be.
How does your ethnicity/background inspire your need to design and how you design?
I can say that I definitely subscribe to the late 80s early 90s aesthetic because I was in elementary school during that time - those were my formative years I suppose, just starting to understand what was cool and what was not. And then I think being Filipino, I definitely am into mixing up the Eastern and Western aesthetics. And then growing up on the East Coast, I like playing with the preppy 80s vibes, but then deconstructing and re-contextualizing them and adding a little bit of flavor. lol.
What are the differences or similarities (if any) between a woman being feminine and as a feminist?
Well, it's a matter of both semantics and perspective because feminine can mean different things to different people, as can the word feminist. And a woman or man can describe themselves as being both, or as being one but not necessarily the other. But when I describe someone as feminine, I'm not referring to a patriarchal view of a woman, but rather embracing and giving value to the qualities that are good, yet have been trivialized by a male-dominated society - such as being compassionate, nurturing, open-minded, graceful and loving. And I think a man or woman can be both feminine in this way as well as a feminist.
Name 3 things that makes a woman confident (can be a feeling, action or appearance).
Comfort, knowledge, and love.
In general, how do you see fashion fit in to the #metoo movement? And then how do you want your customers to feel within that same context when it comes to your collection and brand representation?
You know, this question makes me think of this conversation I had with some people after the Grammys when everyone wore black for the #metoo movement; someone had made a comment about a very revealing dress that night being "rather inappropriate." And immediately I had to disagree, right then and there, because that woman should not be berated, or worse, blamed, for wearing what she wants to wear. We should all be able to wear what we want to wear and express who we are openly and freely without fear of consequences. Regardless of her attire, she is still not asking for it! As for my customers, I want them to interpret and wear the collection however they see fit. The styling and presentation we do are to evoke a feeling that is meant to be inspiring and then translated and evolved in many ways. I love seeing the different ways people wear the pieces.
What's your one piece of advice to mothers who work full-time in a creative field?
Try to have dinner with your family as often as possible during the weekdays. It is one bonding and sacred moment that goes a long way.
If you could visit only 3 cities in the world (and that's it forever), what would they be and why?
Cairo (b/c i love Egyptology and have never been), Kyoto (b/c I've never been and heard it is just so beautiful and rich in Japanese tradition - not to mention I want to eat my way through it), and then Sevilla, Spain. I went to Sevilla when I was 10 years old, and have some faint memories, but I want to go again and revisit the gardens of the Alcazar with my daughter Ella.
The first 3 things you do in the morning?
Set an intention, coffee, wash my face.
Finish these sentences: In 2018 I'd like to see women ....
... sharing more of their stories and less of people thinking that feminism is no longer relevant or that the glass ceiling is already broken. --- @suzanneraebk