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Mom homage: Lesley Evers, who recently opened an eponymous store on College Avenue in Oakland, designs styles that hark back to the pretty yet practical day-dresses her Southern mother wore. Photos by Lara Rossignol.

 

“Mad Men” charm: Lesley Evers

When she was 4 years old, Lesley Evers, now 46, remembers sneaking a piece of chocolate and hiding in her mother’s closet “next to her boldly patterned and day-glo dresses. My mother wore really sweet pretty print dresses all day long. I remember thinking: ‘That’s what I want to look like.’”

Now mother to two boys (Chase, 13, and Will, 10), Evers grew up in North Carolina watching her mother go about her daily chores—cooking, cleaning, and caring for three children—wearing those charming and practical dresses.

Those memories resurfaced five years ago. She had just ordered a dress online, and it didn’t fit anywhere. “I was mad,” Evers says. “I knew I could do better than that.” She sat down to her sewing machine and whipped up a frock. People on the street paid her compliments on her new dress, friends asked if she could sew them something similar, she had her first trunk show, and the Lesley Evers line was born. Today, she not only designs dresses, but also many of her own prints.

SALES: Featuring floral and geometric prints inspired by Mid-Century art, Evers’s graphic clothing sells in 200 boutiques around the United States, including a new eponymous store on College Avenue in Oakland. She oversees a staff of 10, many of them other mothers recruited from the school gates. Sales have doubled every year; she will ship up to 15,000 pieces this year, including scarves, blouses, skirts, tops, dresses, pants, and coats. (Her dresses retail for between $148 and $345.)

STYLE: Evers aims for easy, graceful clothing with a nod to the ’50s and ’60s. Many comment that it spans the “Mad Men” TV series, from her box-pleated cowl-necked dresses to the bold colorful tunics.

RESUME: In her 20s, Evers was an artist who sold to Madison Avenue galleries; she has also been an artist for corporate business presentations.

ESPRESSO MOMENT: During a recent interview in her new offices in a redbrick pickle factory in Emeryville, Evers demonstrates her multitasking skills. During the course of the conversation, she’s on her cell with the handyman about the broken heating (it’s freezing), with her agent about which department stores to target, with her sister in North Carolina about a trunk show. And with her husband (currently a stay-at-home dad) about what time to pick up the boys from basketball.

PHILOSOPHY: “Although I do enjoy the work, I’m not doing it just for fun. If I were just looking for fun, I think I would do something else, like paint.”

Designer: Lesley Evers
Bella Vita, 5407 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 653-1639; bellavitahome.com.
Lesley Evers, 5511 College Ave., Oakland, (510) 595-7600; lesleyevers.com.
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Lesley Evers. Photo by Lara Rossignol.

 

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