Designer to Watch: Sally Lapointe
BY LAUREN TERRILL
“I am constantly striving for bigger, better, more.”
Standing in Sally LaPointe’s studio, one gets the impression that the young designer isn’t quite as comfortable in the spotlight as her most famous customer, Lady Gaga.
“I’m still not really comfortable having my picture taken,” LaPointe admits. But that hasn’t kept the Marblehead native’s career from taking off. “I always knew, from very early on, that I was going to be creating, but it wasn’t until I went to the Rhode Island School of Design that I realized I wanted to go into fashion,” she says.
Since then it’s been a clear, quick path to success. In September 2010, when LaPointe was just 26 years old, her first collection debuted at New York Fashion Week. “I didn’t know all that I was getting into with my first show,” she says. “I was just focused on trying to make everything the best that I could for my first time.” Having just wrapped her fourth fashion week in February (showing her Fall 2012 collection), LaPointe confesses that while she has a better idea of what to expect, it doesn’t get any easier. “I am constantly striving for better, bigger, more, so to say that I am ever truly content would not be the truth.”
In the meantime, her Spring 2012 collection is on sale now. The collection was inspired by a deteriorating former smallpox hospital, known as the Renwick Ruin, on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. “I was drawn to the feeling of something that once was—sort of a haunted romanticism. Not in a dark way, but in a very beautiful, soft, thought-provoking way,” LaPointe says. Mixing Gothic and ethereal elements, her collection includes flowing floor-length skirts, angular jackets, and peplum dresses in colors such as LaPointe’s favorite, solid black, a blue-and-purple watercolor print, and a muted neon chartreuse. In her studio there is talk of shoulder pads and chiffon—the latter a key material for spring, the former a Sally LaPointe signature (and a favored look of Lady Gaga).
What is perhaps most notable about this collection, then, is that one can imagine the pieces as much on a Boston woman attending the Junior League of Boston’s Service and the City Charity Ball, as on a pop star walking the red carpet. “I do not think of anyone specifically when I sit down to sketch,” LaPointe says. “If you do anything too specific for some customers, you can alienate others. It has to appeal to a variety of women.” Women, for example, from her hometown of Marblehead. “I favor my upbringing a lot. It’s a key part to what I do now,” LaPointe says. “I believe that because I was tucked away in a small town, all of my inspirations come from within myself. It makes me honest in my work, and I feel really lucky for it.”
And although her mother says she now goes by “MOS—Mother of Sal,” LaPointe insists that she is not a local celebrity. “Everyone from town knows me from growing up together.” If she keeps up this level of success, it won’t just be Marblehead where everyone knows her name. She had better get used to the limelight.
photography by seth olenick