Studio Visit

Behind the Scenes: Seattle Designer Reina Acab of Le Notre

It's no surprise that the modernist, minimal men's line comes from a modernist, minimal workspace.

By Laura Cassidy December 10, 2013

The locally produced menswear line Le Notre quietly debuted on Capitol Hill this fall—quietly because that's exactly how the crew that created it wanted the presentation to go down.

There's a stark, spare vibe that runs through the imagery, branding, and personality behind the white and black (white and black only) tunics and trousers that trademark the new collection. It's in the DNA of the project, and it's probably in designer Reina Acab's DNA, too. Although she's still a student, there's a great deal of maturity and dignity in her restraint—and in the very act of issuing slim-cut, long-length silhouettes (file under: Rick Owens and Damir Doma) with typically feminine materials like chiffon and sateen.

A great many of fashion's recent and most exciting innovations have been in the menswear realm, and this forward-thinking Seattle line is posed to fit right in to that brave new world.

Image: Avi Loud

Shop Talk: What neighborhood is your studio in?
Acab: West Seattle

What's your favorite thing about your studio?
My studio is actually the loft portion of the townhouse I'm currently living in. The natural lighting I get during the day has to be the best thing about it.

Where do you go to shop, eat, or grab a coffee in the neighborhood?
I haven't lived in the area long enough to really explore, but there are two places I go to often. One being this really good vietnamese restaurant, Pho Aroma, and the second being one of the best taco trucks, Taqueria La Fondita.

What is your earliest memory of designing?
One particular childhood memory always resonated with me throughout college, which lead me to drop nursing as a career. I was nine years-old and it was career day at school. I remember getting up that morning, scrambling through my grandmother's sewing supplies and decking myself out with a tool belt. The tool belt held a hair brush, safety pins, thread, a lint roller, and a doll outfit I reconstructed the night before with pins and scotch tape, and around my neck was a measuring tape. When we had to present our "career" to our class, I described myself as a hair-wardrobe-makeup-stylist and designer. Everyone laughed. I wish I kept that doll outfit.

What do you do to get yourself in a creative or productive headspace when you’re feeling stuck?
I usually write or draw in my journals. It's a stress reliever, and it allows me to dump all my thoughts out before working. Listening to Erykah Badu helps, too.

Five things you can’t work without:
My Juki sewing machine, journals, music, a peaceful space, and Anthony, my right hand in this process.

Image: Avi Loud

Where can we find your gear and where would you like us to find it in the future?
Currently, everything is made to order. Our website has been officially unveiled, but inquiries on garments are handled via e-mail. We're still a very small business, and everything is sourced in Seattle and made in-house by me. It's a very personal experience and I enjoy the fact that I can really get to know and interact with potential clients myself.


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