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Night for Sight
Showing up to an event in the same dress as another attendee is considered by many as a fashion crisis. But, with so many clothing stores selling the same lines, how does a Beach Coaster stand out among all the commercial fashion?
Mark Roscoe has the answer – go couture.
“When people ask how I became a fashion designer, I always tell the same story,” Roscoe said. “During the time I spent as a runway model in college, I would see the clothing and think ‘hey, I can do this’ and I began designing by sketching a dress on a napkin for a friend in need.”
Ever since that first napkin sketch, Valparaiso, Indiana’s own fashion designer has been creating one-of-a-kind gowns and neckties at his Beach Coast studio.
“Beach Coasters wear nice clothes, go to events, have good taste, and some have the budgets to allow a couture gown in their wardrobe. When these women go to certain events, they don’t want someone else showing up in the same gown, or worse, looking better in it than they do,” Roscoe said.
A Practicing Designer and Lawyer
Roscoe has made a splash on the Beach Coast as a designer for the last ten years, but he has also been practicing family law for almost three decades in Valparaiso. When he’s not practicing, he’s sketching, meeting with clients and creating unique gowns and neckties.
“Having my own private practice for the last 10 years leaves more time for scheduling and design time,” Roscoe said. “My studio is in my home and when I can’t sleep, I can design – I can really put design time in when I get inspired.”
A Tie Changes Everything
In addition to designing women’s gowns, Roscoe has also built a reputation for designing men’s neckties.
“For men, a suit is a suit. You have brown, black, blue and gray and not much more. Suiting men is all about the accessories: shirts, cuff links, ties – and selecting and wearing the right tie can change the whole look,” Roscoe said.
Roscoe’s ties are made from silks and 100 percent woven fabrics. Weaving the silks and other fibers adds texture, said Roscoe, and reflects light in different ways making the fabrics he uses look rich and interesting.
The gowns and neckties are all made from fabrics Roscoe handpicks as he travels internationally. Roscoe travels to India, Egypt, Thailand, Italy and other countries to search for fabrics, while also dealing locally through a European supplier to get unique fabrics for his designs.
“Right now I only sell my ties in a few boutiques, but my design company and I have big plans for 2012 including an expansion to further the Mark Roscoe brand all around the world,” Roscoe said.
Stay tuned to Mark Roscoe Designs to see what unfolds in the next year.
Mark Roscoe Designs
604 Washington Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
(219) 465-0811 phone
(219) 763-0519 fax
Krysten Beck is Beach Coast born and raised and recently moved back to the area after graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Journalism. Krysten has written for the Indiana Daily Student and the Indiana University Arbutus Yearbook while also contributing to a handful of blogs.
Text by Barbara Rolek
Photos by Amanda Temple
Some people stash bowling balls, tennis rackets and, well, coats in their hall closets.
Not Mark Roscoe.
The 49-year-old attorney uses his to horde shimmering silks, diaphanous chiffons and opulent brocades acquired on trips to the Far East and Europe.
That shouldn’t be surprising, though. Roscoe is also an haute-couture designer. After modeling and acting in Chicago for 20 years, he turned his talents to designing men’s ties in 2004. But creating women’s fashions began well before that.
“I hated seeing my plus-size, vertically challenged mother disappointed after unsuccessful shopping trips, so I started sewing for her,” says Roscoe, who is self-taught and uses no patterns.
His After-Five wear concept – comfortable, classic garments designed to each client’s preference – was born out of a dress hastily sketched on a napkin for a friend who couldn’t find anything to wear for a special event.
Roscoe’s face takes on the look of a visionary when he explains his philosophy.
“I’ve always been a fan or Armani, Valentino and Cassini, and I wanted to bring back that simple elegance and design wearable fashions that make a statement without uttering a word,” he says.
Roscoe’s hands fly over his work as he shows off embellishments like hand beading on both the right and wrong sides of the fabric.
“Just in case the wind flips over the edge of a stole, I want it to look good on both sides,” Roscoe says. “It’s all about the artistry for me.”
This meticulous attention to detail extends to fabric patterns that match on dart and seam lines, French seams, rolled hems, cloth buttons, hand-dying, foundations in low-cut dresses, and no break in the continuity of a scallop detail, for example. “We never repeat a fabric or design. When a woman walks out of my Valparaiso studio, she’s walking out with a garment no one else in the world has,” Roscoe says.
Susan Schiller, who has been sewing since she was 8, is part of the team at Mark Roscoe Design and regularly hand sews up to 2,000 beads on a garment without a thimble, while William Potts serves as color consultant to Roscoe, who is colorblind.
“Women who come to Mark Roscoe Design are looking for an attitude, the entire package, so we can create accessories like handbags, stoles and jewelry and suggest shoes, hair and makeup,” Roscoe says.
But Roscoe is choosy. He says he’s got to like the client before he’ll
work with her.
“No matter how beautiful my creation is, a person’s negative attitude can spoil it. It’s very personal, what we do. It’s an intimate process,” he says.
Just ask Jill Schrage of Valparaiso, who owns two Mark Roscoe creations. “I first saw Mark’s work on a friend at her daughter’s wedding and immediately called him to design a dress for me for my own daughter’s wedding,” Schrage says.
The entire process takes about six weeks, she says. First there was a meeting with
Roscoe and Schiller to talk about the event and help the team to get a sense of
Schrage’s personality, style and body type.
“That first night Mark explained everything step by step. At our next meeting, I was shown a drawing of the prospective gown, my measurements were taken and fabrics were discussed,” Schrage says. The design team also took a trip to Chicago so Schrage could find the exact periwinkle color she wanted for the dress. Roscoe was then able to pick the fabric.
A series of muslin fittings comes next. One time it might be the skirt panels, the next time the bodice. Once the fit is perfect, the muslin pieces are taken apart and used as patterns to cut the fabric. Then the fitting of the actual garment begins.
“Mark is a perfectionist and his dresses reflect that. He’s northwest Indiana’s best-kept secret,” says Schrage.
But not too secret, apparently. Roscoe was invited to submit his portfolio to Bravo TV’s “Project Runway,” but he declined.
“That would take about a six-month commitment and I just can’t get away from my law practice (with offices in Portage, Ind.) for that long, nor would I want to,” he says.
His women’s wear ranges from $1,500 to $4,500 and are created by appointment only.
Chicago Collective show, Merchandise Mart, Booth #8-1038
Call 219-465-0811 or email Mark Roscoe at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your appointment to view our exquisite neckwear.
South SHORE STYLE
Text by JEFF KUMOREK
A funny thing happened when I went to David's Men's Clothier in Valparaiso to interview Mark Roscoe about his exciting ties. Walking into the store at the appointed time, I observed Mark arranging his ties and I introduced myself. Mark was impeccably dressed and looks like some successful trial lawyers I know. I also thought, "This guy is so attractive he could be a fashion model." It turns out he's both.
Mark has been involved in the fashion industry in Chicago for 20 years as a model and an actor. He has worked for the Ford Agency as well as the Shirley Hamilton Agency. He is also a practicing attorney. Five years ago, Mark started designing haute couture fashion for Chicago women when he saw a need in the market. "I can't tell you how many times a client complained to me that she went to a social event and saw the same dress on someone else." Mark's female clients now have the opportunity to have something totally unique that fits perfectly.
There is a lot of work in the process. Mark explains that he discusses the event with the client, what she has in mind, and fabric selection. Talking through the outfit takes six weeks and involves about six fittings. Without getting too technical, Mark says the dress is made in muslin before the first fitting, then it's cut in the fabric for more fittings until the dress is complete. Mark has a portfolio of his designs to help visualize a concept. He is an admitted traditionalist who favors a classic style "that might be worn by Audrey Hepburn," he says. Mark's couture dresses cost $1500 to $4500.
By now, even I'm starting to get confused. This is a tie story set in a men's clothing store, and we're talking couture fashion. But I am leading somewhere, because it turns out Mark was making a dress for a female client who asked him if he could make something for her husband to match her gown. Mark says his tie business was based on guilt. The women "may feel better about the price of the dress if they buy something for their husbands."
Mark has been selling ties at David's since January of this year. David Shurr has sold 50 ties himself. Mark is obsessed with the quality of production. Every tie is handmade by either himself or his assistant, Susan Schiller, in their Valparaiso studio; nothing is outsourced. It takes six hours to complete one tie. Sometimes customers require an extra long tie, and they can be custom fit. Another advantage is that he uses fabrics from all over, including Italy, France, India, and Asia. One of Mark's personal favorites is a silk from Thailand. Mark buys only enough fabric to make two or three ties, each outfitted with a button slide. You fasten the tie to the shirt, but it slides as you move, maintaining a perfect appearance.
Would he ever consider adding suits or shirts to his line? "Other people do that well, and I don't want to over-extend myself so that the quality suffers in the dress or tie line," he says. Mark likes making ties because ties make a strong statement without uttering a word. And ties have great versatility; you can wear one with any outfit.
I showed David Shurr a Mark Roscoe tie I particularly liked and was thinking of buying. David suggested I consult with Mark about the right tie for me, since he was the expert. When Mark returned, I asked for his advice. He looked at me, pondered the 20 ties on the table, and picked the same one I had. I was ecstatic. Mark says he loves the tie, and it's so new he hadn't had time to put a label on it. As I write this, I am eagerly awaiting the return of the labeled tie so that I can wear it to a party at Millennium Park in Chicago.
Mark Roscoe sells ties for $135, and they can only be purchased at David's Men's Clothier, 113 Lincolnway, Valparaiso, IN. Mark's e-mail is email@example.com.