It’s certainly been a busy year for fashion designer Ben de Lisi. The New Yorker has been putting in the hours designing the new Debenhams Principles range, which encompasses not only women’s fashion but also electricals, furniture and other homeware.
How Ben quite found time to dedicate himself to another little project, then, we’ll never know. The Pratt Institute of Art graduate was recently signed up by Coral to design this year’s Royal Ascot dress, which will be worn at the event on 17th June to raise publicity for the bookmaker.
The dress, which is said to be “inspired by jockey silks” will be modelled by an as yet unknown household name, and will later be auctioned off, along with the original designs, to raise money for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Having noticed Ben’s keen eye for fashion on the Sky One series Project Catwalk, Coral first approached Ben in 2014 and asked him to design an exclusive dress for the prestigious racing event. It was modelled by Strictly Come Dancing Star Kristina Rihanoff and was made entirely of betting slips – later going on to cause a stir when Ms Rihanoff was turned away for breaking dress code regulations.
Needless to say Ben has learned from this experience and this year’s creation will doubtless be a little more conservative. But what else can we expect from Ben for the rest of 2015?
The 60-year-old describes his style as “American preppy with a quirky twist.” Look into any of his Debenhams collections and you will notice his signature bold prints and colours, be they women’s skirts or three-piece suites.
But could this American influence also lead him to his next style goal? Having worked with many big British names in the past including Kate Winslet and Helena Bonham Carter, Ben admits there is one American starlet he would love to style.
“I’d love to style Angelina Jolie,” he admits. He also has nothing but praise for other American stars such as Julianne Moore, whose style he describes as “not overproduced.” He says: “Julianne Moore epitomises my belief that fashion should never be so loud that you do not see the person first.”
Clearly, the star wants to work with more American actresses, but despite being born in the Big Apple himself, could we see him producing even more for Debenhams? After his designs saw the company’s profits climb by more than 4 per cent, the chain store won’t want to be getting rid of him in a hurry.
Plus, if this year’s Royal Ascot dress raises as many eyebrows as 2014’s, it doesn’t seem like our Ben will be heading back to his native homeland any time soon.