Texas Essentials: Lela Orr, Eco-Luxury Fashion Designer

Lela Orr is a Dallas-based, environmentally friendly fashion designer and entrepreneur who is fresh off the heels of competing on Season 17 of Bravo’s Project Runway.

Published May 29, 2019

Growing up in Dallas, Lela Orr had a fascination with fashion at an early age. She would look through Vogue magazines and slowly began to realize that fashion wasn’t all about the clothes; fashion was about a designer’s intimate thoughts and expressions, culminating in wearable art. 

According to eco-conscious fashion designer Lela Orr, “Creating garments that bring my clients joy and have a positive transformative impact on one’s persona is the most important element of my designs.” Photo courtesy Lela Orr 

After attending New York’s Parsons School of Design in 2015 (former home, as Project Runway longtime aficionados will surely recall, of Tim “Make it Work” Gunn), Orr interned for fashion brands like The Row, Harbison and Catherine Malandrino. It was shortly after that Orr decided to start her own fashion line, Ferrah which would encapsulate her fashion design philosophy. Orr chose the Arabic root “Ferrah,” which means joy, merriment or happiness, as these were the things she hoped to bring customers buying her timeless creations.

Lela Orr worked with Christian Siriano on Project Runway, where she learned to follow her creative process rather than questioning it. Photo courtesy Lela Orr

In 2016, Orr won the Fashion X Dallas’ Bernina Fashion Fund which helped launch her career and took her out of New York City and back to Dallas. It was in Dallas in 2017 that Ferrah became an eco-luxury women’s wear brand, when Orr teamed up with designer Lea Nyland, known for a focus on construction, balance and ethical craftsmanship of apparel. Orr also lends her time to Conscious Couture, a Dallas-based non-profit that raises awareness and funding to help fight human trafficking. 

With an understanding of women’s needs and desires going into every detail, Ferrah apparel is manufactured with little to no textile waste. The eco-friendly brand either donates or recycles unused scraps and remnant fabric or makes smaller goods, like accessories, from them.

Lela Orr and designer Lea Nyland are known for their focus on construction, balance and ethical craftsmanship. The Ferrah duo create 100% ethically-sourced women’s wear made in Dallas. Photo courtesy Lela Orr

Orr is also one of a growing number of designers choosing to incorporate inclusive sizing into their product line meaning sizes range up to 24 and are not exclusive to smaller sizes, which historically has been the case in the fashion industry. As Orr says, “All women should feel fashionable and fabulous.”

Making it through eight episodes on Project Runway, Orr’s elimination in episode nine provided valuable takeaways. Orr learned to question herself less. “When inspiration strikes, it’s important to follow—not question—your unique creative process, especially when you find yourself in a timed competition,” she says. Orr remains proudest of her creation on the show that made it all the way to the runway. The all-in-one jumpsuit was designed from 100% zero waste fabric.

We wanted to know what this amazingly talented fashion designer never leaves home without – also known as her Texas Essentials.

Lela Orr’s must-have essentials encapsulates her fashion design philosophy of ethically designed and zero-waste products. Photo courtesy Lela Orr

Giant Sunglasses 

Because Texas is a very hot and sunny state.

Reusable Glass Water Bottle

A girl needs to stay hydrated, but also single-use plastic water bottles are terrible. 

My Phone 

Because social media and e-commerce is so important to my business.

SPF Lotion

So important to reapply throughout the day – my grandma said SPF was her secret to great skin into her 70s.

Homeoplasmine Cream 

It’s basically French Aquaphor but all-natural and can pretty much be used for everything from ChapStick, cuticle cream or even makeup primer.

Orr’s eco-luxury apparel is Texas-made giving women a sense of luxury with ease. 


Cover: Lela Orr, courtesy photo

Austinite Lisa Davis is the Editorial Assistant for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and honors graduate from Concordia University Texas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Public Relations.

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