Power equals beauty with Stina Sayre’s new collection

Designer Stina Sayre stands with pieces from her 2014 spring/summer line. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The name of the latest fashion line from designer Stina Sayre is Seize Your Beauty.

“I’m encouraging women to take hold of their own beauty,” Ms. Sayre said in a recent interview. “In this industry we are bombarded with looking a certain way. I work very hard at making designs that will look good on a woman’s body rather than a model’s body.”

This weekend the Stina Sayre boutique on Main Street, Vineyard Haven unveils the full spring/summer collection, which includes dresses, jackets, skirts, and tops, all with one thing in common — comfort and wearability with style elements and a certain sensibility that makes them appropriate for just about any occasion, from casual to corporate.

Details such as large pleats in the back of jackets and blouses, a twist in the hem of a skirt, and a pocket in the pleat of a drapey cardigan jacket set Ms. Sayre’s designs apart. As do the fabrics that she uses. One of her favorites is a satin finish cotton with metal threads woven throughout. The unique blend, which Ms. Sayre uses to give added shape and sheen to some of her jackets, is called memory fabric and it has some scrunch to it. “You can crush it to give definition or you can iron it with your hand,” she elaborated.

Another fabric that Ms. Sayre recently discovered is a very tightly woven cotton from Italy. “It’s so smooth, so crisp,” said the designer. “It’s almost the way a French baker gets excited about the crunch of their baguettes. When I touch that fabric it has such richness.

“It would be a great sail material. It has that quality,” she added. She would know, as she is a former international windsurfing champion. “You can’t run away from who you are if you’ve been a sailor.”

Ms. Sayre, who is originally from Sweden, spends a good deal of time searching for the perfect fabrics. Touch is as important as look. This past winter she travelled to Paris to shop for fabrics.

Her palette tends towards neutrals — a variety of grays, navy blue, black, white, and off white are staples, but the designer also likes a pop of color, especially orange. Her new pencil skirt comes in a bright poppy color. The Pixie Dress is a sunny orange with one yellow and one silver sleeve.

The Stina Sayre Regn coat (“regn” is Swedish for rain) with a big funnel neck that can be worn down or zipped up, comes in natural and light grey as well as dark grey, with a bright orange zipper. It’s a dramatic piece made from two layers of cotton with a rubber laminate in between for waterproofing.

Ms. Sayre has been designing clothes since 1989. Every year she adds pieces that will coordinate with clothes from previous lines. And, generally, a look can be created to suit a variety of body types. For example, Ms. Sayre noted that her new pencil skirt can be worn with a loose-fitting trapeze tank or a crisply tailored smock top, but it can also be paired with a short jacket or fitted camisole for a more figure conscious look.

“Often women say that something won’t look good on them,” Ms. Sayre said. “I want to shift from the negative, the self-deprecating way of talking, to saying, ‘This is something that is really good about me.’ I want people to be happy about themselves.”

One key to designing flattering clothes, according to Ms. Sayre, is starting from the top down. “If something fits on the shoulder it will look good,” she said. “I work hard on the shoulder fit. I work really hard on making clothing that fits most women. I’m pleased that women come in and say, ‘This is cool. I look good in it.’”

Many of Ms. Sayre’s pieces feature unique design details such as asymmetrical lines, fluctuating hemlines, or unusually placed pleats and pockets. “I design clothes that are very wearable. But I add details that set things apart and make the looks dressy,” she continued.

Her standout cotton wrap dress brings together many of her signature design elements. The flattering style features a front pleat with a pocket that creates an uneven hem and a big back pleat and side folds that give it a very stylish draped effect. The neckline can be folded down on one side to reveal the contrasting lining fabric (yellow on the grey dress, print fabric on the ice blue) for an asymmetric look. This dress is a good example of a comfortable piece that can be dressed up or worn for a simple casual look with a bit of flair.

“I want everything to be easy to wear,” Ms. Sayre said. “I want you to feel like you are in your sweat pants but you aren’t. You look dressed and you feel comfortable.”

Feeling empowered by wearing outfits that are both stylish and comfortable is the whole point of the new collection: “I want to dress women who are leaders. Women who are passionate about what they do — strong women who go and do what they want to do. I want to make them feel powerful in how they dress.

“Clothing is a language. It sends of message of who we are.”

2014 Spring Collection Kick Off, Friday, April 18, 5–8 pm, Stina Sayre Design, Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-693-5180 or email info@stinasayre.com.