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Chicago designer makes debut on Rihanna's 'Styled to Rock'

Latex is much more versatile than you think; just ask Laura Petrielli-Pulice.

The Chicago-based designer brings her latex clothing designs to Bravo's new reality competition series, "Styled to Rock." Superstar singer Rihanna serves as executive producer for the show, which debuts at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 on Bravo.

Petrielli-Pulice started her Vex Clothing 13 years ago, taking latex from strictly fetish wear to something that could be incorporated into mainstream fashion. She hopes the show will continue to help her make the jump.

"I take a lot of my references from the runway shows--colors, styles, what's in--and just relate that into the latex end of it," Petrielli-Pulice said.

She fell into fashion almost by accident when she found New York's Fashion Institute of Technology while looking into colleges.

"When I was in high school they were like, 'everybody has to go to college,'" Petrielli-Pulice said. "I was into punk and goth, and I was always into art and drawing so I thought, 'maybe I should look into fashion schools.'"

While at FIT, Petrielli-Pulice interned with a latex designer and fell in love with the material. After being urged by a friend to put on a fashion show at a club in New York, she sewed an entire latex collection over a break, taking the first steps toward her line. When she returned to Chicago after graduating, she officially launched Vex.

"Chicago isn't really known for fashion, but I knew I could break out in the fetish world fairly easily," Petrielli-Pulice said. "That's how I started down that road, but I wanted to do the mainstream industry for sure. The show is helping me go that route."

Though based in Chicago, Petrielli-Pulice doesn’t sell her line in any stores in the city. Vex operates mainly on online and through custom orders. Her designs have been featured in W Magazine and Italian Vogue.

"Styled to Rock" follows a model similar to "Project Runway," but each week the contestants have to create a look for the celebrity guest. Miley Cyrus, Khloe Kardashian, Kelly Osbourne, Kid Cudi and more will all appear in the first season.

Pharrell Williams, model Erin Wasson and Mel Ottenberg, Rihanna's stylist, serve as mentors to the 12 designers on the show, all chosen by Rihanna.

"I watch all the fashion competition shows. This one is definitely different and interesting," Petrielli-Pulice said. "I think people are going to enjoy it for sure. A lot of crazy characters."

The winner of "Styled to Rock" receives a fashion feature in Glamour magazine, a chance to become a member of Rihanna’s design team and $100,000 in cash.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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