Having clinched the 2020 Rising Star Award from Fashion Group International of Dallas, Lela Orr is readying a boutique to showcase her Ferrah fashion label as well as other sustainable fashion and accessories. Located across the street from the hip Trinity Groves complex, the boutique is called Sept, which is steeped in meaning. “The goal is to have seven sustainable designers hanging or displaying at a time,” Orr explains. “Sept means ‘clan’ or ‘guild’; my birthday is Sept. 7; and sept also means ‘seven’ in French.” Orr’s business has quadrupled since her appearance on Project Runway in spring 2019, evolving from an atelier of mostly custom work to small-batch production runs. Ferrah means “joy” in Arabic, and Orr’s goal is “to create clothing that can bring joy to women and make you feel like your best self.” That translates to urban chic styles like a khaki belted cargo jumpsuit and a pink silk crepe skirt with side drawstrings for adjustable length. She stitches her designs using only natural-fiber textiles colored with natural dyes.
“We are being more mindful of things because fashion is the biggest polluting industry, next to oil and gas,” Orr notes. She eschews synthetics like spandex and aims for zero waste, donating leftover textiles to quilting guilds or crafting them into accessories. Conscious of animal welfare, Orr uses pineapple “leather” instead of animal skins and plans on experimenting with a new textile made of cactus. She crafts felt hats with locally sourced wool that has been hand sheared to avoid wounding the sheep. “Every collection, we try to be more and more sustainable,” says the designer.