This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on May 23, 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Because social media and e-commerce is so important to my business.
So important to reapply throughout the day – my grandma said SPF was her secret to great skin into her 70s.
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.