Fashion Designer Redefining Women’s Workwear
The Storied Life chats with Undra Celeste, a Brooklyn-based fashion designer who is redefining women’s workwear as the founder and creative director of Undra Celeste New York. As a modern womenswear designer, Undra’s goal is to empower multicultural women to show up to work feeling like their authentic selves. Her designs exude confidence by providing modern, fun, and bold workwear. Undra is the founder and creative director of Undra Celeste New York. She started her fashion journey as early as 7-years old in Brooklyn. Always having a knack to create, she knew at an early age that design would be her life’s work.
Undra explains her fashion perspective as, “redefining modern work and it is, specifically, I mean, obviously, anybody can wear it. But it’s, it speaks to women of color and women of different cultures. Because like myself, my mom or women I know … I know so many women who use clothes, not just as a covering, it’s not just something to keep you warm, it’s something to keep you protected mentally. It’s something to kind of like, you know, like, the Bible says, like, “gird your loins”, like you are getting dressed to go to war almost every day, and you have to have on the right clothing on, it makes a difference.”
Her style perspective and designs are successfully speaking to women and culturally relevant for this moment. In terms of women and modern workwear, what’s so of the moment about Undra Celeste New York, is that she has zeroed in on what modern women want from their workwear. We’re at a point in our culture where our concept of work has deeply shifted, and this shift we feel has been taking place for the last three to five years. Additionally, the shifts in work are now exasperated with the COVID-19 pandemic and working from home.
Undra desires to dress everyday women for the place you spend the most time in your life – at work. We love her design aesthetic. She loves to feature bold colors and prints and modern silhouettes like polished clean lines. We also love the hint of sexy flair in her pieces that compliments the female form with fun embellishments. Her designs showcase a confident feminity for those headed back into the office post-COVID. Many of Undra’s pieces can easily transition from day to night or relaxed knits that are perfect for Zoom meetings.
“The one thing that is consistent with my designing, when I’m thinking of concept is the customer I always think how does she want to feel and that’s one thing I thought a lot about when I’m designing this collection because majority of it was designed during the quarantine. And by the time this comes out, you know, most of the country I guess will be vaccinated and will be coming out. So how does she want to feel how does she want to look when she’s coming back out into the world and so that is more or less who I what I’m thinking with every every collection”.
Who is Undra Celeste?
“It started very organically as an extension from me. My name is Undra Celeste Duncan, however, my life is kind of split by my name. So if your family or know me from high school then I am Celeste. When I went away to Howard University and I entered the professional world; everybody knows me as Undra. So these are the two parts of me, but it’s like two parts of one person that comes together as Undra Celeste, and, and that is the brand.”
Undra graduated from Howard University and immediately started her 20-year career in corporate design and product development. Undra’s success led to showing at New York Fashion Week twice, countless fashion publication features, working with the CFDA, and a collaboration with Nike and Lebron James to co-design the first-ever women’s basketball shoe created for women by women.
We were also excited to learn how much we have in common with Undra. Just like us, Undra is the daughter of Guyanese parents who migrated to Brooklyn, New York. As a Guyanese-American similarly, she is a fellow first-generation kid from an immigrant family. As DC natives we are proud of Undra’s graduation from Howard University and that Lana and Undra are both graduates of Los Angeles area fashion schools (Lana at FIDM LA and Undra Celeste at Long Beach College)
Undra credits her design inspirations to Caribbean culture and her Guyanese heritage.
Shop Lana’s Undra Celeste Look from Our Podcast Interview
We loved learning more about Undra Celeste New York. Supporting black women in business is just one of our tenets at The Storied Life. We hope you enjoy this interview. Be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive an update when new Podcast episodes go live!
Shop more Undra Celeste New York or visit our Brands section for more Undra Celeste looks we love!
Photo Credit: Undra Celeste New York – Courtesy of Undra Celeste Duncan