by Nicoline Roth
Although originally from Atlanta, Georgia, you have graduated from London College of Fashion. Can you tell our readers more about your journey, how you ended up studying and launching your own fashion brand?
Growing up, my dad made me dress quite conservatively. I had to wear leggings under my skirts and generally make sure that I didn’t dress inappropriately. However, my grandmother, who happened to be a seamstress taught me at an early age how to create my own clothes, which really inspired me. Funny enough, there would be no rejections to wearing my own creations, I think my dad became very proud when I was being creative myself. Today, I am the exact opposite of being conservative. Through my journey, I’ve learned that female sexuality is a lot more than being or looking sexy, but rather feeling good about yourself, in your skin. Therefore, my work always has underlined motifs of fragility.
When I first decided to pursue fashion, I moved to Los Angeles, where I studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising or FIDM for two years. Prior to graduation, a teacher encouraged me to look at European fashion schools to further my education, something which had never crossed my mind. My family had never really travelled to Europe, so the place itself seemed very far away. However, I ended up studying at London College of Fashion and launched my own brand as I was graduating. Moving to London and launching my own brand fresh out of school, was definitely based on taking a chance on my dreams and aspirations. I made up my mind that trying would potentially have a much bigger outcome than not trying at all.
What has been the most challenging in terms of launching your own fashion brand, straight out of school?
Being a handmade womenswear label in terms of designing, sewing and cutting all designs. It is also very important to me that I am creating a brand, which is “made in the USA”. Both because I am American myself, but also because I think fast fashion has really taken over, so this is my way of slowing it down, while at the same time telling a story of my own. The United States is such an influential country on a global scale, so that adds to why I think it is important to have a brand made in the USA. Lastly, since I just launched my brand earlier this year, it has - of course - also been very tough working on my own.
Publications such as Elle.com, Dazed and The Evening Standard have all praised your work as an aspiring fashion designer, in what way does it validate the hard work you put into your designs, and especially the underlying meaning your designs carry?
I think it validates that there is strength in vulnerability. I believe that you’re free to reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always aspired to be through clothing and through life. For instance, my dresses made out of bra straps shows the inside and outside part of bra straps. By showing the inside part of yourself, you are revealing your most private self, the vulnerable part of yourself. Now, with publications bringing it to the forefront gives the validation that it is okay to be emotional and okay to show that part of yourself. And I think it takes a lot of strength to be able to show this side. For me, to be the best person one can be, means to be healthiest person you can be, and here I believe emotions and feelings play a major role, both four mental health and confidence.
In London College of Fashion’s 2018 graduate show, you showcased a collection, where some pieces were made out of bra straps, showing skin through the dress. You wanted to explore the feeling of vulnerability that women experience. Why was this important to you?
The collection that I showcased at my graduation show was something I created as a self-reflective collection. It was me trying to reveal my most private self as a designer. I am mostly known as an emotional designer; therefore, I try to create pieces that trigger intimacy and emotions. Design can often be seen as structured, but the ideal of an emotional design, is something that we can all relate to. As a designer and artist, it is important to explore the symbiotic relationship between the mind, body and clothing. There is always a story with each piece and a connection to it. All your relationships and emotions are based on an emotion of intimacy. I used this feeling to convey a certain mood and emotion throughout the collection. Our relationships with one another is something so personal and real yet ordinary but a relatable thing.
From afar, you won’t notice what my dresses are made out of bra straps, but when you study them up close, you see the play between bra straps turned inside and out. Nobody ever really sees your bra straps, unless you get undressed. And I think this is when women show their most vulnerable side, as you don’t just undress in front of anyone. So, making dresses made out of bra straps, was my way of showing that it is okay to show a sense of vulnerability. The whole collection was about showcasing what is underneath, the concept of undressing. And being an all-white collection was to showcase my technical abilities as a designer.
How do you aim to empower women through your designs?
That weight has no bearing of beauty. I think it is worrying that society has created a pre-determined picture that weight is the pin point of beauty. That what you weigh, is the key determinant for how beautiful you are. In my opinion, this couldn’t be more wrong, a person’s wright does define her or him and it definitely should not dictate beauty. Your self-esteem and the way you see yourself is what will define your beauty. As a designer, I aim to make work that trigger intimacy in the most sensual form. And therefore, as an extension of my own identity, honesty and intimacy are absolutely key to my brand.
The four BOLD questions.
1 BOLD BOOK
Milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
2 BOLD QUOTE
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
3 BOLD MOMENT
Graduating from university and being featured in ELLE.
4 BOLD WORD TO DESCRIBE YOURSELF