Los Angeles designer and social maven Mary Alice Haney is relaunching her line after a COVID-19 pause.
The industry veteran who has worked as a magazine editor for Allure, Marie Claire and GQ, a stylist for A-listers such as Blake Lively and Sarah Jessica Parker, and a TV host, first entered the business with a luxury eveningwear collection in 2013, with gowns inspired by her famous clients.
Net-a-porter was the first retailer to pick it up, followed by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Shopbop, Fwrd and many more.
“Haney is known for party dresses and red carpet and when the pandemic hit, all my orders stopped, the only thing I could do is shut the company down,” she said.
But she couldn’t shake her love of design, and the 10 years she’d put into building the brand. So, she spent lockdown reflecting on how she, her customer, and the idea of sexy, California glamour have changed.
“We haven’t been out, we haven’t worn heels,” said Haney, once a regular on the charity ball circuit. “We still want to live our lives and feel good but we want to feel comfortable.”
For inspiration, she looked back to what she wore when she first moved from New York to L.A. — Juicy Couture — and designed a velour capsule collection in that spirit. Except that the ’70s-style, zip-front, belted white jumpsuit, ’90s-nostalgic black bustier minidress with side cutouts, cropped cardigan, bra top and briefs are so sexy, they don’t even look like velour.
The core collection is body con — ruched minidresses with bras peeking out, crystal edged cutouts, open backs with twisted straps or tied sashes, bustiers and flared trousers, and a tailored white blazer dress — and all of it would look at home with heels at a soiree or barefoot on the sand.
The collection, which drops Oct. 1, is being produced in New York, at a factory that’s been used by Cushnie et Ochs and Proenza Schouler, and is priced for the advanced contemporary market, at $350 to $1,100, and more for special embellished pieces.
Besides wholesale and her own e-commerce, she’s looking at new channels of distribution, including via an upcoming TV show she will be costume designing.
“As a smaller brand, you can’t compete with the budgets of LVMH, but what can we do that’s scrappy and innovative? That’s the thing about living in L.A., we have access to the greatest visual minds in the world, how do we turn that into a new way for consumers to see clothes?”