The New Fashion Initiative

Andrea Lauer: The New Fashion Questionnaire

The New Fashion Initiative regularly invites a leading voice in the sustainable and ethical fashion revolution to answer 17 questions about themselves, both personal and professional. It’s our green and socially conscious spin on Vanity Fair‘s beloved Proust Questionnaire. This month, our interviewee is the founder and creative director of the brand Risen Division, Andrea Lauer. Andrea Lauer is a New York-based designer, inventor, and artist. Her ability to tell stories through costume, character, and set/production design and her versatility to work in different mediums, from theatre to opera, dance, film, music videos, and TV, have made her a sought after and renowned designer. She has worked in Broadway (American Idiot, Bring it On) and has been credited in over fifty national and international productions.  She is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of RISEN DIVISION, a couture workwear fashion brand that celebrates the art of the jumpsuit. She also owns RISEN from the Thread, a design thinking and innovation agency focused on the human body and its relationship with technology. Her clients include global brands in fashion, marketing, fine art, medicine, sports, and entertainment. 

She has styled numerous shoots that can be found in the pages of VogueRolling StoneInterview, Nylon, Paper and OUT magazine as well as the award-winning documentary series PBS NOVA. Leading musicians and artists have also relied on her to create their looks for the Grammy Awards, the Tony Awards and other red carpets and international stages.

What is your favorite article of clothing?

My favorite article of clothing is a vintage leather pencil skirt from the late 1970s that I found at a church sale in upstate NY for $5.

What is the most wonderful thing about the fashion industry right now?

The most wonderful thing about the current industry is that it’s letting in more and more newcomers.  It no longer feels as marginalized by old fashion houses and that there’s enough room for all of us to be creative within the industry. The conversation feels more much closer to the heart of being a community rather than competition.

What do you think is the most shocking thing about fashion today?

The most shocking thing about fashion today is I think how fast things go out of style and how wasteful things become.  It seems that no matter how transparent or how revealing the industry becomes it is still being ignored time and time again.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

My favorite place I travel to is Amsterdam because I love the glimpse of the life you can see while strolling the canals.  Your eyes are at the perfect angle to admire all of the old crown moldings and the inside architecture. The dutch also seems to have the coolest bandaids.   

What is your favorite indulgence?

A chocolate chip cookie.

What makes you happiest?

Music makes me happiest…when I listen to things on my record player or just music streaming in my ears I feel energized and connected to another frequency.  I’m rarely without it and it drives me the most my day and completes my thoughts. Also puppies, so music and puppies.

What environmental or social problem are we overlooking?

I think that we are aware of many of the problems we have, but global warming and climate change need more action, there is just not enough doing to make things better. 

 Are you more introverted or extroverted?

I feel like an introverted extrovert.  I like to be alone and spend time with myself but I also really need to be around people to stimulate my creativity and my inventive spirit.

What do you do first in the morning?

I get up and I go running, then I reward myself with a pour-over coffee.  I turn on my record player and write down a list of things I have to do for the day, then I have a few minutes of quiet before I launch myself into work mode.

What was the happiest moment of this past year?

When I had a flash sale for my jumpsuit line RISEN DIVISION in the middle of COVID and sold 28 jumpsuits in 24 hours…That made me feel really great. People need to feel powerful and have their armor in times like these.  I feel my suits do this and the people needed a stimulus more than ever.  The fun thing is it made me smile so much and it connected me to people all around the world I have never met that are not only new customers but feel like soulful compatriots of a sartorial coven.

The best professional moment of your life thus far?

I think the best professional part of my life so far was designing for 53rd  Annual Grammy Awards in which I designed both red carpets and  performance looks with the band Green Day and the cast of the American Idiot, which I also costume designed on Broadway earlier that year

What was the last outfit you wore that made you feel amazing?

I have this pink dress… there I said it, not black but pink, long, swirly, 80’s number that is an absolute power piece and makes me always feel like I am somewhere in between a fiesta and a nostalgic carnival. It also goes great with converse!

Favorite movie?  

Oh, my favorite movie is Pretty in Pink by far it totally informs who I am, the music I listen to, and who I am as a designer.
Wait pink, there is a theme here…

How do you recharge?

Day nap or evening martini, dry with gin and a hint of olive.

What three words describe you best?

Creative Whirlwind Freakshow

What makes you laugh the hardest?

Me. I probably laugh the hardest at myself because I tend to do ridiculous things most of the time, but also my sister can always manage to make me cry with laughter.  She is always on speed dial for this reason. 

Favorite book?

 My favorite book is Orlando by Virginia Woolf.  I love who Woolf was as a writer and person. Her language, poetry, and ability to trigger escape and get lost in a powerful transformative story has made me read it over a dozen times. Orlando is the epitome of a polymath that transcends time and space and re-create themselves over and over again throughout the centuries.  This feeling is at the core of what I hope to create in this world so it is a great inspiration for my work. 

What’s your mantra?

Move. My mantra is MOVE.  I just have to keep myself moving, otherwise, I can overthink and feel paralyzed or melancholic about what to do next, so it’s just about continuing to push forward and take action even and best yet in times of uncertainty.