In 2009, designer Karen Bene founded her company, Blazers by Design, on the idea there are more ways for women to feel powerful in work clothes, than wearing a boring black pantsuit. Blazers By Design is a small but thoughtful line of vintage inspired jackets, made for women and men of “independent spirit.” Designed in Germany, and sewn by a group of talented seamstresses in Bavaria, the line features hand sewn, fabric lined button holes, fine finishing, and brightly contrasting fabrics. Bene herself grew up in Connecticut, but relocated to Germany in 1979, raised two children there, and started her jacket line some thirty years later.

To design her line of exclusive blazers, Bene started with her favorite fashion decades — the 30’s and 40’s — looking specifically to the sporting dress of that time. She drew inspiration from equestrian jackets and dusters, with their hand detailed button holes, rigid lines, and variety of lengths. In sporting wear, Bene found an internationally universal style; unique, timeless, and powerful on the women wearing them. With the goal of trying to move women away from the thinking that they needed to mimic the style of their male colleagues in order to exude confidence in the workplace, Bene went about designing a line that made women feel physically powerful in a more individual way. “The plain black pants suit, however stylish and elegant it might be, is not the most creative or interesting item in the closet,” she says. “To me it just asks ‘How [can we] make a beautiful woman look like a successful man.’’’ Bene thinks women should set their goals higher. “Take a quick look thru your closet. If more than fifty percent of it is black, you need Blazers by Design in your life! New colors and combinations of fabric will open your mind to new possibilities and experiences.”

The jackets have been shown in New York, Maine, and on October 13 and 14, Bene will invite the public to her Maryland debut: a semi-private trunk show at Halcyon House in Lutherville. The pop-up will feature Bene’s fall line of alpine inspired European jackets, now made for both women and men, in both summer and winter weight fabrics. Plenty of ready-to-wear pieces will be available, and custom orders taken.

Blazers by Design is a “one woman operation,” with Bene doing the fabric sourcing, designing, and order fulfillment on her own. The cutting and sewing is done right in Bavaria, by local talent. Most of the fabric is woven in the region as well.

Blazers By Design Trunk Show will be held October 13 and 14, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Halcyon House, 11216 Greenspring Avenue, Lutherville, MD 21093. Halcyon House can be reached by phone at 410-828-8889.