Launched in April 2018, La Doyenne is a female founded; demi-couture brand focused on trans-seasonal women’s wear that is handmade to order and produced by New York based artisans. The brand focuses on small collections with a limited number of designs and a wide array of styles, making each piece truly unique to the woman who wears it.
La Doyenne was co-founded by Laura Day Webb and Rachel Hearn who met thanks to a fashion mishap. The duo met at a charity function Laura was hosting, when the seam on her vintage gown split and Rachel, who majored in textiles, happened to have a sewing kit on hand. A few expert stitches and conversation led to friendship and a shared passion for the arts. When it came time for Laura’s wedding, she and Rachel worked together to craft the bespoke gowns for the Italian celebration with such an enjoyment and ease, that a partnership only seemed natural. Laura’s business background and Rachel’s past experience in fashion have led to a shared vision of expertly crafted pieces for women of all body types, with a particular focus on the details.
Two collections later, the duo sat down to chat with me about the La Doyenne woman and their blooming partnership. With such a close personal and business relationship, I figured why not let the two interview one another instead of the usual ‘Five Questions‘ blog series when I am the interviewer?
Rachel Interviews Laura
Rachel Hearn: How would you define the La Doyenne woman?
Laura Day Webb: She is multifaceted. I have been thinking of her more and more as the modern Renaissance woman: someone who has a variety of interests and talents. She is working and might be juggling a family. She has outside passions. There is more to her than meets the eye. She is complex.
RH: How do you embody the La Doyenne woman?
LDW: When we’ve been thinking about our pieces we’ve been thinking about a woman who has a variety of activities throughout her day. I am somebody who has a lot of balls in the air at the same time. I have a full-time job and La Doyenne in addition to that. I have several charity projects and then my husband! I am someone who is probably doing a lot of different activities during the day that don’t necessarily all go together. When I think about me and what I need, it is a piece that transitions.
It’s been important to me as we grow as a brand that we are making things that move across the day. As a woman I need to have more free time in my life. However small it may be. Not having to worry about clothes is really important to me.
RH: As partners, how do we balance one another out?
LDW: That is something we are really lucky with! Rachel and I noticed very early on that we are quite symbiotic and we had the ultimate test at the beginning of our professional relationship. We designed my wedding dressed together and it was our first project and actually how we began the line. Stemming from that we learned exactly what we need to work well together. That’s the kind of project that can drive two people apart very quickly. We were both struck by how easy it was. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do and Rachel saw it and could interpret even with nonverbal cues what I wanted to do. That very quickly made us realize that we were on the same page.
Her technical expertise is invaluable. Having the training in textiles and having worked in the industry, she really knew what it was going to take to make these pieces by hand and build something in New York. That’s something I didn’t have but I do have a business background when it came to the creation of the business, marketing, and messaging. It is a beautiful partnership and we are so fortunate to have each other.
RH: At La Doyenne we fully embrace life. What does that mean to you?
LDW: Yes, we do! We were going at break neck speed before we launched this company and we certainly haven’t slowed down. It is about having joy in the things you’re doing; whether that’s your work, your relationships with friends or your family. Having a little time to yourself too never hurts. We really want to feel like when we are done and grey that we have given it everything we’ve got. We can look back and be happy and excited that we had the chance to do this, wherever the project takes us.
RH: Where do you hope to see La Doyenne in 5 years?
LDW: From the get-go, we’ve wanted to make luxury fashion more accessible to a wider audience of women. Right now we offer sizes 0 to 14, which is great for a start-up company but we certainly want to do more on that front. Ultimately petites, plus size, and really expanding the offering beyond the traditional sizing.
Coupled with that we’d like to do more collaborations with brands with women of a similar mindset: entrepreneurial and focused on female empowerment. [Brands] who want to make something that is high quality, will last, and is special. Also with other artists. We’ve named every piece in our collection after an artist whom we admire; whether that’s an actress or a painter or somebody in mixed media.
Laura Interviews Rachel
Laura Day Webb: How would you define the La Doyenne woman?
Rachel Hearn: I second what you said: somebody who is curious, who is striving to grow and be the best she can. Curious in the sense of exploring things that are out of her comfort zone. Somebody who is in a lot of different environments throughout the day. Our clothing is easily worn if you’re going to the grocery store or going to that cocktail event. Our lives aren’t always that simple so why shouldn’t we have clothing that’s versatile?
LDW: How do you embody the La Doyenne woman?
RH: Being curious! I am always trying to grow and pursue new things. I’ve always been somebody who is very textile conscious and what I surround my body with is very important to me. Making sure that I make good choices with fiber content, style, and things that are sensible for the environment or make me feel my most genuine me.
LDW: As partners, how do we balance one another out?
RH: I don’t think I can put that into words. It is quite complicated in a very simple way. It really works so simply! I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with. I don’t think I could’ve invented somebody who could balance me out in a better way.
We are both ridiculously driven and curious. We are always trying to improve and so many different ways. There is nothing we couldn’t handle.
LDW: At La Doyenne we fully embrace life. What does that mean to you?
RH: I think similar to my previous answer: I choose to surround myself with things that are beautiful and creating beautiful clothing to help other people create that beautiful space around them.
LDW: Where do you hope to see La Doyenne in 5 years?
RH: Definitely expanding and being able to reach more people. I would also love to see us do more and branch out to accessories or other functional things we use on a day to day basis. It’s hard to find something versatile and transitional in that [bag] space.