By Beth Lebwohl
Linda Asaf is known for designing custom wedding gowns, dresses and luxury sportswear. She told me that she has been making clothes since she was a teen. “I learned to sew in junior high and really stuck with it since then,” she said. “In high school, I didn’t like what I saw in stores so I decided to design for myself.”
She wound up going to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. While there, she also pursued a degree in business from Columbia University. After receiving her MBA, she spent some time working for the corporate world at places like Young & Rubicam and IBM. It didn’t sustain her joy.
“I realized that I really needed to follow my passion [for design],” she said. “And I ended up running a fashion company in New York City.”
That’s where Asaf brushed elbows with some of the greats: she shared a sewing production factory with famed designers Vera Wang and Bill Blass. Said Asaf, “I learned a lot from being surrounded by couture production methods, fabrics and designs. This is a major cornerstone of my fashion experience.” Such experience still comes in handy, and Asaf explained why. “With a [wedding gown], it’s the one time in your life where you will make the investment to wear something of high design and couture quality.”
I asked Asaf to describe a wedding dress she designed here in Austin that illustrates her mastery of couture technique. “I once designed a dress that morphed into different looks throughout the evening. It started out as a traditional gown with a short kimono style jacket over it. [When you removed] the jacket, it revealed a strapless dress with beautiful hand draping. The skirt was interchangeable and went from a solid fabric to an entirely beaded Gatsby-like skirt! It was quite a challenge, but it turned out spectacular and the bride looked radiant.”
While Asaf spends much of her time designing one-of-a-kind pieces like these, she also owns a store called Design Lab. Located next to the Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis, Design Lab celebrates the work of many talented designers in Texas.
Asaf takes pride in championing the work of other designers, and perhaps that’s why she’s so well-known for producing a fashion show called Full Tilt, which runs every year at the W Hotel during the Formula 1 Grand Prix race weekend.
“We feature international and local designers with looks ranging from swimwear to evening wear,” she explained. “The show sells out every year and the W Hotel couldn’t be a more perfect venue right in the heart of downtown. Attire ranges across the spectrum, but everything is ‘racy’ in both senses of the word!”
“I am inspired by many things. I just visited Thailand where I was so taken with the dramatic rock cliffs of the islands. I took many photographs and hope to create some digital print fabrics out of them.”
Asaf’s Store on Lake Travis
Written by Beth Lebwohl
Images Courtesy of Linda Asaf, Creative Commons, Nick Kenrick, Nathan O’Nions
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Beth Lebwohl earned her writing chops here in Texas, where, for several years, she produced stories for EarthSky, a globally syndicated science radio program. In addition to her passion for the written (and spoken) word, Beth loves the graphic and decorative arts, tea, goat farms and the warm-hearted folks of Austin. She is a proud native of Queens, New York.
Writing: Beth Lebwohl
Photography: Chris Perez – @citygrammag
Images of Eden East Courtesy of Nom Nom PR
Written by Beth Lebwohl
Images Courtesy of Stephen MacMillan Moser, Frances Mac Laughlin, LIFE