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Lady Dione: Creating Luxury Through Mixed Patterns & Materials

Lady Dione Bevel’s high-quality cut-and-sew garments have won her celebrity fans, including neo-soul singer Erykah Badu

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Photo credit: ladydione.com

All artists seek validation in one form or another, and for Lady Dione Bevel, hers came via a New York Times story from November 2016.

She wasn’t the centerpiece for the feature, however, nor was her name mentioned anywhere in its text.

Bevel’s stamp on the piece sat front and center in the lead photo: Neo-soul singer Erykah Badu, the article’s subject, sitting in a chair as she gets her hair braided. The golden kimono she’s wrapped in is of Bevel’s brand, Lady Dione. Badu purchased the garment from Bevel just days before the shoot at her concert in Santa Ana, California.

“That night was just an amazing experience,” she remembered. “She’s so nice and so sweet and she nearly bought every piece I brought [to the show]. I had no idea she was going to wear it for the New York Times feature.”

The featured kimono is just one of many luxurious, high-quality cut-and-sew Lady Dione pieces. What originally started as a t-shirt company in Oakland in 2003 has transformed into a collection exhibiting Bevel’s exquisite taste for mixing patterns and materials, such as suede and faux leather. Kimonos are presently Lady Dione’s signature, but loungewear pieces such as leotards, cropped sweaters and jumpsuits are also available.

Making Lady Dione into what it is today required Bevel to take two subsequent leaps of faith: The first one was moving to San Francisco with her mother and enrolling at the Academy of Art University’s School of Fashion program in 1997; the second leap of faith meant committing full-time.

Bevel said she was adamant about having a four-year degree and during the late-90s, only the Academy and three other schools were offering a bachelor’s program in fashion design in California. The campus, nestled within a bustling San Francisco, is ultimately what sold her on the Academy, but it was the instructors and curriculum that made the final impact.

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Photo credit: ladydione.com

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Photo credit: ladydione.com

“You definitely felt like you were getting a fine art education,” she said. “It didn’t feel like you were locked into fashion – I was learning about marketing and knitwear in addition to honing on my specific craft and style as a designer.”

She returned to Southern California after school, and prior to Lady Dione’s re-launch as a luxury brand, Bevel worked for a publishing company until they fired her via text. She thought, clearly, it was time for a career change.

“I really took that as a sign that if I don’t try – like give this 120 percent effort, no security net – I’ll end up regretting it for the rest of my life,” she said. “Since then, I’ve tried and I’ve been validated more than once that I was clearly meant to do this. There is a market for what I do and people like it.”

Badu wearing a Lady Dione kimono for The New York Times is just one example of validation. Additionally, Bevel’s list of celebrity clientele includes singers Lalah Hathaway and Keisha Epps, plus actors Yvonne Orji (from HBO’s Insecure) and Idara Victor (Mad Men), customers who are fans of her “bohemian chic; a mix of that sophisticated woman who still has a free spirit.”

Bevel’s designs are very much a reflection of her own style and aesthetic, whether she’s designing kimonos or knit tops or harem pants. Her flare for colors, prints and fabrics was always a part of her, but she says it was the Academy that really encouraged Bevel to stay true to her designs and make it a priority to keep her collections authentic to herself.  

“What the Academy gave me was a niche and really honing in on what my style is as a designer and staying true to that,” she said. “You can always play and get down on different boundaries but my style and my aesthetic will never change. People will be able to tell that’s a Lady Dione garment.”

For more information and to shop Lady Dione, please visit ladydione.com.