A fashion-based social enterprise model that has proven a massive success in Melbourne has landed in Sydney and is proving a success in its own right.
Started by CEO Jackie Ruddock about six months ago, The Social Outfit is social enterprise which provides education, skills, on-the-job experience and employment in fashion for new migrants and asylum seekers.
It’s a "replication" of the Melbourne’s The Social Studio - started in 2009 - and like the Melbourne studio, The Social Outfit offers participants the chance to gain accredited training in fashion design and manufacturing in a creative and practical way. It also gives participants the chance to share the aesthetic side of their culture with the rest of the community.
“There is a real appetite for this type of social enterprise, as shown in Melbourne,” Ruddock said.
Already, The Social Outfit has attracted some of the biggest names in Australian fashion including Ken Done, Linda Jackson, Celia Morris (from the label Dragstar), Nina Maya and Carla Zampatti.
Gaining such top talent was the result of more than a year’s worth of cultivation from Ruddock, who has more than 10 years experience working in the charity sector and has held senior management roles at The School for Social Entrepreneurs, FAR Social Enterprise, and Streetwize Communications.
Ruddock first met Done when she embarked on her own fundraising drive for The Social Studio from 2010-2011, called “What Ken be Done?”. The project involved Ruddock wearing an item from Ken Done’s 1980s label for 365 days and raised more than $25,000.
The project not only connected her to Done, but gave her a chance to spread her message of fashion for good - with designers quick to jump on board.
“It’s about working collaboratively,” Ruddock said. “If you tell people you are inspired by them and try to connect with them in authentic way, people do say ‘yes’.”
Armed with a team of Aussie fashion designers, The Social Outfit has embarked on several projects in the past six months.
Its most recent being the Colour Chameleon design project - a collaboration between the Melbourne enterprise, the designers and The Social Outfit.
It started with a fashion show in September as part of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and earlier this month a fashion show in Newtown - showcasing the creative work from the refugees who take part in the program. The Newtown fashion show was an opportunity to also raise money to support education and training programs from the Sydney and Melbourne enterprises.
“Colour Chameleon held in Newtown was our chance to, hopefully, welcome ourselves to the Newtown community,” Ruddock said.
Other programs were a pop-up shop in The Rocks and a pilot fashion program with Fairfield High School in south western Sydney.
The pilot program at Fairfield High School, which runs its own social enterprise called the Parents’ Cafe (which catered for the Colour Chameleon fashion show), included students who had recently arrived to Australia from Iraq, Iran and Syria, and armed them with accredited design and sewing classes. The program also included guests speakers including fashion designer turned interior designer Nina Maya.
The program will be run again next year, but also with the inclusion of students’ parents.
“One of the differences between us and TAFE and other courses is the on the job training, that’s what worked in Melbourne with having a store working in the community that was engaged in learning in a practical way,” Ruddock said.
Ruddock is quick to admit that despite the successes starting up the replica of a Melbourne social enterprise in Sydney was hard work but it had plenty of rewards.
“I would say one of the most rewarding aspects is working with so many people on this project - it’s been a wonderful learning experience,” she said.
The Social Outfit is now raising funds to expand into a retail store and on-site design school in Newtown, Sydney, next year, which will allow it to continue providing education, training and employment pathways in fashion and design for young people from refugee communities.
“It’s onwards and forwards for us,” Ruddock said.
The 10-year sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts was 2.5 years less than the minimum recommended by the U.S. Probation Office under federal sentencing guidelines.
Gilliams, 46, came to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan with about two-dozen family members and friends, including his father, a Philadelphia-area minister.
Gilliams and his attorney Everette Scott were convicted in February following a jury trial of stealing money from investors, including a scheme involving a purported investment in U.S. Treasury Strips.
Last month Scott was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in the fraud.
Federal prosecutors charged Gilliams and Scott with misappropriating much of the investors' money for their own personal gain including luxury cars, jewelry and trips.
Gilliams, who says he is an ordained minister, also used some of the money to stage a splashy event at the Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton that was supposed to raise money for charity and was meant to bolster his image as philanthropist. The event included a number of celebrities, including music producer and fashion designer Sean "Diddy" Combs.
During the sentencing proceeding, Gilliams's attorney, Anthony Ricco, asked Batts to show some compassion for his client, saying that he was a good person who "let a lot of people down" but had good intentions.
"I am not here to make excuses for him," said Ricco. "He is a person of capable of redemption."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Levy rejected that description, saying that Gilliams "has not shown any remorse."
Gilliams, dressed in a dark suit and dark tie, said little during the proceeding, except to thank God and his family friends and parishioners for their support. Several dozen submitted letters of support to the court prior to the sentencing.
Prosecutors in a pre-sentencing memorandum took a tough line against Gilliams.
"It was an expensive party that was thrown not to help the less fortunate, but simply to self-promote Gilliams as a person of supposed wealth and importance," according to the memorandum.
Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Gilliams and Scott in October 2011. Authorities filed the charges after Gilliams was the subject of Reuters Special Report in May 2011.
Prosecutors charged Gilliams with misappropriating $5 million from two group of investors in connection with the Treasury Strips scheme and $450,000 from an investment in a Utah coal mine.
As part of his sentence, Gilliams was ordered to make restitution to his victims.
“Every Belgian is born with a brick in his stomach,” Michael Verheyden says, as we sit down to dinner in what is surely the most fashionable restaurant in Genk, a sleepy town east of Antwerp. Fortunately, for his briefly worried non-Belgian visitor, it turns out that this locally famous maxim has nothing to do with food. “It means that every Belgian wants to own his own home,” Verheyden’s wife, Saartje Vereecke, explains.
Six years ago, the couple fulfilled their Belgian dream when they acquired and remodeled the modest brick house that now serves as their home and design studio. But when they set about furnishing the space, they ran into a common problem. “We of course wanted to decorate in a nice way, but we didn’t have the budget,” Verheyden says. “My wife and I are very picky, not so easily happy with things. So we thought, If we design it all ourselves and have people we know produce it, we can have the perfect pieces without any compromises.”
Around that time, Verheyden, a former student of industrial design, who’d turned a brief stint as a runway model for Raf Simons into a career as a handbag designer, was finding the accessories business constricting. “Handbags are a very traditional product,” he points out. Before long, he had made a switch to housewares, including everything from leather baskets to bronze vessels. Verheyden’s knack for combining elemental forms with rich materials quickly struck a chord, and his exquisitely made home collection is now sold in boutiques and showrooms worldwide.
“I am not into complicated forms,” Verheyden declares later, as he takes me on a tour of his studio. Simple cylinders, round bowls and rectilinear tables and chairs recall John Pawson or Donald Judd, but his objects are rescued from total minimalism by his adeptness with materials. His deceptively simple forms have an uncanny ability to bring forth the singular beauty of a vein in a marble tray or the subtle patina of a bronze vase. “If you work with a material long enough, it will tell you the form it should take,” he says. And apparently Verheyden is a good listener; his sensual objects demand to be touched — you can’t help but want to feel the weight of a brass tray. “For some people, my work is a bit severe,” he admits, “but the materials make it lively.”
Despite the fact that Genk is the birthplace of Martin Margiela and also where Raf Simons studied design, the town is not an obvious home for a high-end design studio. Allées of oak trees and quaint brick houses built at the turn of the century give the city a Hansel and Gretel quality. “Most of my peers go to Antwerp or Brussels, towns more known for their design scene, but Genk makes more sense for us,” Verheyden says. The city’s central location makes their frequent travel to Italy and France easy, but when the couple is in town, the quiet allows them to focus on their work.
With his tortoiseshell glasses and dark smock, Verheyden’s look is more “studious craftsman” than “rising design star.” But his humble appearance belies an ambition that extends far beyond Genk and Belgium. Asked why he turned his focus from fashion to home accessories, he replies, “We wanted to build a business with a worldwide reputation.”
Vereecke is clearly an integral part of the plan. A petite woman with fair hair pulled back in an efficient bun, she is an equal partner, weighing in on both aesthetic and business decisions. “We like to say I’m responsible for getting things in — overseeing design and production — and she’s responsible for getting things out — marketing and promotion,” he explains, adding, however, that many of the initial ideas are Vereecke’s and that she often exercises veto power over his flights of creative fancy.
Meanwhile, even as his reputation has grown, Verheyden has been careful to remain close to the process. The leather pieces, including the “G55″ sling chair and the bespoke leather boxes, are all made by hand in the couple’s leather studio. The bronze and brass elements are all hand-brushed. Verheyden creates many of the prototypes himself and works closely with the craftspeople who make his products. His leather workers in Morocco call him “un vrai artisan,” says Vereecke, who has spent the afternoon hand-dyeing the edges of a set of leather place mats, a special order to be FedExed to Tom Ford.
It’s not easy work, but the effort also lends the finished pieces an aura of spirituality that can be lacking in so much minimalist design. Though Verheyden is not actively religious, his work displays the hallmarks of a certain metaphysical inclination. “I like when people come together in a sacred place and the rituals are done — you get a certain atmosphere,” he says.
His aim when he creates a piece is to impart a bit of that feeling of serenity and transcendence. “I hope that people are slowing down when they are using my designs,” he explains. “We’re living today at a very high speed, reading e-mails every five minutes and traveling the whole world, but to be able to do this you need to slow down and create your own rituals. We need to feel grounded again. So the materials I choose, by looking at them and touching them, I hope they can work in some kind of healing way.” He laughs, adding quickly, “I’m not a New Age-y guy, but it’s something I strive for, to be very Zen.”
Interior designer Namrata Baruwa Shroff speaks about juggling career and work responsibilities effortlessly
Namrata Baruwa Shroff’s sprawling bungalow overlooking the ocean nestled in Juhu is a metaphor for her love for all things beautiful, minimal and elegant. Be it the breezily done-up lawn or the exquisitely designed living room where she entertains her guests in style every element reflects her penchant for the dynamism of design. Shroff lives a hectic life but manages to juggle through different spheres without skipping a beat. She’s just finished a playroom, a club and has designed an entire collection for furniture fair called Index which will be held on November 14 this year. “It is an Indian equivalent to Milan furniture fare,” informs the interior designer.
Design: An extension of aesthetic
Namrata was born in a family of architects. “Architecture is what I studied and also interior design. I also enjoy studying people. Both my parents being architects, certainly drew me into this endless world. I am their architecture,” says she with a smile.
“When you’re involved with design be it fashion or space it percolates into every sphere. As much as I love fashion, I don’t follow fashion. I have always believed that fashion is something you buy but style is something you possess. I don’t follow trends,” she adds.
When Namrata started designing, she was very rigid about her likeness for minimalism.
However, over the past few years, her taste has evolved and she has nurtured a non-conformist style of design. “Broadly speaking, my sense of design ranges from modern to industrial chic. I have also incorporated art deco into my design vocabulary. One always wants to design things which have never been designed before and there are moments of mental block. I think the environment around me gives me design ideas. I think the best time when I get ideas is between four to seven in the morning. I don’t usually wake up that early except for the times when I’m jetlagged,” she says breaking into a peel of laughter.
“It’s tricky to juggle work with family responsibility, especially with two kids (aged 5 and 8),”
Namrata adds, “I think I compartmentalise my life which is the base of making everything.
Typically, my working hours are when the kids are at school and I’m always present at home when they are back except for the time when I’m travelling. My kids are used to being with me at sites, I read them stories in the car and I teach them myself. I don’t conform to the idea of a tuition teacher. I like it because I get to study with them all over again,”
“A desire to change the world is my drive. All the visuals I gather in my mental camera as I travel nourish my aesthetic sensibility, but the thumb rule for me to arrive at is Form Follows Function,” she says. She admires the iconic Philippe Starck the most. “Besides I love Piero Lisson, Moshe, Karim Rashid, Zaha Hadid, John Louis, Ashiesh Shah, Pronit Nath, Bijoy Jain, Nozer and Aditya Jeswal,” she says. Besides her travel trips around the world are also a springboard for inspiration. “I live to travel. Of late, I’ve been very inspired by Russia and Israel and Paris.”
Style to me is …
“Fashion is something which you can buy, but style is what you must possess and this is true for design in every form, whether it’s fashion, decor, architecture or photography. I like structured fashion and not drawn to much embellishments. “My fave Indian designers are Gaurav Gupta , Ramona and Monisha Jaisingh. Internationally I enjoy wearing Chanel, Issey Miyake , Corto Moltedo , Diane Von Furstenburg,” she adds.
She follows ‘fashion follows foot ‘ thumb rule for her look. “I first choose my shoes. I have quite a shoe fetish and then the rest follows,” she signs off.
The Bruce Museum has one of the most beautiful textile collections I’ve ever seen.
If you’re something of a fashionista then you can’t help but be smitten by the beauty of the designs and the richness of fabric that no longer seems to exist in our ready-to-wear world. Two of my favorites in the Bruce Museum collection are a long Belgian lace bridal veil and a dress by Worth.
Last year, one of the interesting pieces that caught my eye at the Bruce was an American evening coat circa 1925. Made of black silk with white chenille piping and metallic thread embroidery its kimono style, so redolent of that era, drew me to thoughts of my favorite turn of the century fashion designer Paul Poiret.
Originally apprenticed to an umbrella manufacturer, he would sketch and create small dress models using the discarded silk scraps. He was a poor boy with glamorous ambitions who dreamed of dressing the most elegant women in Paris and beyond. Gradually, his designs attracted the celebrated House of Worth who hired him to create practical clothes for ladies.
But within two years he felt his talents were being underappreciated and decided to set out on his own and started the Poiret fashion house.
His first course of action was to rid women of the tortuous corset and set their bodies free with Grecian like costumes. Of course, while Poiret succeeded in freeing women’s shoulders and waists, his invention, the hobble skirt, limited a woman’s stride to two or three inches at a time. In fact, corded “hobble garters” were worn just above the ankles to prevent regular walking strides from ripping skirt seams. Ironically, these were popular at the same time as suffragists were demonstrating in the streets, many wearing these decidedly challenging skirts.
Another controversial action was his introduction of the v-neckline for daywear. This exposure of skin was considered a sure way to contract pneumonia at the time.
In 1913, Poiret came to New York. He became a regular contributor to Harper’s Bazaar, penning articles on the elements of style and how a modern woman should dress. His influence reverberated with American women, who embraced his orientalist motifs, donned his lamp-shade tunics, and spritzed themselves with his Parfums de Rosine. Poiret delivered the first designer perfumes to the world, but he also gave women an even greater gift, a self-confident modernity.
Of course, today the memory of Poiret has drifted off into oblivion; his languorous designs a mere relic of the past. But if you happen to see the 1925 evening coat on display in the Bruce Museum he may just spring back to life for a moment.
Victoria Baker, of Greenwich, is an opera singer. Winner of many prestigious competitions, she has performed and worked with distinguished artists all over the world (notably at Lincoln Center).
On a recent Sunday, three fashion designers entered the Jewish Museum, on the Upper East Side, about an hour before closing time. Gabi Asfour (brought up in Lebanon, by Palestinian parents), Angela Donhauser (from Tajikistan, then Germany), and Adi Gil (Israel, then Germany), who together make up the collective threeASFOUR, sped through a room filled with Chagalls into a dark side gallery. Dresses from their Spring-Summer, 2014, collection—black or white, architectural— hung from the ceiling, lit by flickering projections. A recording of a piano string being plucked arrhythmically served as a soundtrack.
The trio began catching up—Gil was moving to a new apartment; Donhauser had a Barbra Streisand song stuck in her head. An elderly museumgoer approached. “Please forgive me, this is a quiet setting,” she said in a stern whisper. “It is not a cocktail party.”
The designers retreated to a vacant auditorium. “We work kind of all together—somebody designs, somebody styles, somebody does graphics,” said Asfour, who is forty-seven, with the rakish beard of a buccaneer, and wore a white leather vest, white pants, and a black silk kimono. “The idea of a name like Marc Jacobs”—for whom Asfour used to work—“it freaks us out, because it doesn’t make sense. It’s just one name, but then there’s a whole army of people behind it.”
“We always say it’s like kindergarten,” Donhauser added (forty-one, blond ponytail, round blue-tinted glasses). “You can be the lone child who is a spoiled brat and it’s all about me, me, me, but how much fun do you have all by yourself?” For its Jewish Museum show, threeASFOUR worked with the artist Alex Czetwertynski, the musician Raz Mesinai, the product designer Bradley Rothenberg, 3-D-printing technicians, architects, and an origami master, among others. The result is a multimedia installation titled “MER KA BA,” a name that is itself a mash-up of allusions to Jewish, Muslim, Sufi, ancient Egyptian, and New Age spiritual places and practices.
Donhauser and Gil (thirty-nine, tomato-colored hair, wearing a necklace she’d made from crystals and seashells) met in Munich, in the nineties, at fashion school, then decamped for New York.
“You have to have this feeling of—in German you say vogelfrei, free as a bird,” Donhauser said. They teamed up with Asfour (whose sister is a fact-checker at this magazine) in Manhattan. Now their label, which they run from Chinatown, has pieces in the V. & A., in London, and in the Costume Institute at the Met, and counts Yoko Ono and Björk among its fans. A guard stepped in to announce that the museum had closed, so the designers returned to their exhibit.
“See the Islamic tiling?” Asfour said, as Donhauser pointed a flashlight at a laser-cut pattern on a white dress. “We’ve been, for the last two years, researching Islamic tiling, and then slowly we started realizing it’s connected to Christian tiling, Baroque and Romanesque. And then we looked into Jewish tiling and were, like, wow, it’s the same thing, too.”
Gil said, “That was the core of the collection, how they fit together.”
The garments have names like Mount Sinai Dress (black silk organza), Sistine Dress (tiled black silk origami), and Revelation Dress (ivory resin). It is hard to imagine comfortably wearing one, and thoroughly stressful to imagine getting caught in the rain in one. They go for up to thirty thousand dollars; the museum’s gift shop is selling a silk chiffon caftan for eight hundred and eighty-eight dollars.
“At this point, the world’s united through the Internet, so it doesn’t make sense anymore to have separate religions, because it creates conflict right away,” Asfour went on. “I guess we are saying something about this, but without being too heavy.”
At the far end of the room, there was a fortlike structure in the shape of half of a three-dimensional six-pointed star, which the designers called “the sanctuary,” or “the temple.” Inside was a house of mirrors—reflective panels on the floors, walls, and ceilings, with a narrow window facing Central Park. Christian Wassmann, the Swiss architect who designed the space, stood within it, wearing an angular threeASFOUR blazer.
“The shape itself is like a basilica,” Wassmann said. “The visual effect from the outside is like the Star of David, and then, inside, all the Plexiglas mirror silhouettes are Islamic.” As the sun set that evening (the autumnal equinox), he explained, it would pass directly in front of the window. Suddenly, there was a blast of light. Everyone sat down on the floor, in silent admiration.
Then Asfour said, “I guess we’ve developed our own kind of religion.”
“Our own threeASFOUR religion,” Gil added.
“I want to be buried in this, like Cleopatra in the Pyramids,” Donhauser said. “Lock me in, till eternity.”
industry is known for its pretty faces, rail-thin figures, skin as smooth as
polished marble and smiles like staring into the brightest star. But what is a
galaxy with only one star? What is the fashion world with only one color?
Fashion Week is like the Super Bowl to the catwalk-savvy populace. But runway after runway, only one “color” seems to be fashionable each season – Caucasian. In a study by Jezebel Magazine, for this year’s Spring Fashion Week in New York City, N.Y., 82.7 percent of models on the field were caucasian. Sitting on the sidelines, 9 percent were of Asian decent, leaving African American models as the waterboy at a measly 6 percent. Now, not only do teenagers have to worry about being pretty and thin enough to be a model, they also have to worry about if their skin color is right, too.
One group decided to take the issue to the source. In a letter to the heads of fashion weeks in New York, Paris, Milan and London, the Diversity Coalition called the industry out on its lack of colored models.
“Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches design houses consistently use one or no models of color,” the letter said. “No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond ‘aesthetic’ when it is consistent with the designer’s brand. Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society. It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.”
The letter contained a list of fashion designers whose model selections paled in comparison to the actual diversity in society. The Council of Fashion Designers of America received a list of 19 female and seven male designers. France topped all three with 23 females and 21 males.
While this may be news to the general public, for people of color who have worked in the industry for a number of years, this is life. Beverly Johnson, former African American model and fashion mogul, was faced with racism on a daily basis.
“[It happened] all the time,” Johnson said to “Women’s Wear Daily.” “I’d be on a modeling assignment with a white model and we’d be taking the same amount of pictures, wearing the same number of outfits, but she’d be paid one amount and I’d be paid another, lesser amount. Once I understood, I began brushing up on my history. I learned that this was a challenge I would have to face daily in my life.”
Although it seems there has been multiple attempts throughout the years for a reform in the fashion world, the dresses, scarves and skirts all continue to be donned without people of color. Since 2008, caucasian models have continued to hold the 80 percent bracket, while everyone else fends for their part of the mostly eaten pie.
Why, is the question. What is the reasoning behind this seemingly obvious racist activity? Could it be ideals held by the designers? It wasn’t too long ago that one label came under fire due to a racist outburst by John Galliano, Dior designer. His offensive outburst was caught on camera.
“I love Hitler,” Galliano said to two women of color in a French coffee shop in 2011. “People like you would be dead today. Your mothers, your forefathers, would be f***ing gassed and f***ing dead.”
This got Galliano fined €6,000, or $8,400 US dollar equivelant, by a French court for giving a racist verbal assault. The designer was also dropped from Dior. However, just two years later, Galliano was welcomed back into the fashion world with open arms.
Surely, this could not be the shared ideals of everyone in the fashion world, could it? Didier Grumbach, president of the Chambre Syndicale, was puzzled by the letter he received by the Diversity Coalition. The Chambre put on Paris’ Fashion Week. One Grumbach said they would showcase designers of 22 nationalities, five continents and be displayed in close to 100 shows. From the live coverage, however, their models still lacked skin pigment.
Will the runways ever have more to show than pretty, ivory faces? History says no. The models say no. The designers’ actions, though they deny it, say no. Only time will tell if the letter sent to the heads of Fashion Weeks around the world will make skin color next season’s “must have.”
Paris. New York. London. Milan. Tucson? Those who are fashion-forward in their thinking won’t have to travel far to get their fill of today’s hottest trends and tomorrow’s cutting-edge designs when Tucson Fashion Week kicks off this weekend.
A lot has changed since TFW debuted in 2010 in the parking lot of Skrappy’s Youth Collective. Its founder, fashion designer Elizabeth Albert, has passed the torch to Paula Taylor, a local author, consultant, stylist and international events producer. House of PM, a partnership between Paula Taylor Productions and local stylist Melanie Sutton’s MHS Styling, is the new creative director behind the three-day event. According to the TFW website, “House of PM ... will expand Albert’s original vision while staying true to the mission of creating a platform for emerging designers to showcase their work, along with designs from local boutiques, international designers and national retailers.” Events will be held at three locations this year: the Tucson Desert Art Museum, The Tucson Museum of Art and La Encantada.
While the first year of TFW might have been a “complete disaster” according to Albert, it had enough impact to ensure bigger and better events in the future. Not only has the event switched hands and expanded to several locales, but it also has snagged an impressive list of local sponsors and international VIPs. Sponsors include Mercedes-Benz of Tucson, the Playground Bar and Lounge, the FORD/Robert Black Agency and Best of Tucson winners Shlomo & Vito’s Delicatessen. Betsey Johnson, the whimsical post-punk designer, is this year’s “Inspired Icon” designer. Not only will she be presenting her line, but she’ll also be in the judge’s seat. Bert Keeter, a runner-up on the ninth season of Project Runway, will also be in attendance when he closes TFW with his collection.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in downtown Tucson, and Albert was settling in for a long week of preparation for her fashion presentation on Friday, Oct. 18. CandyStrike, 197 E. Toole Ave., her studio and boutique, is her headquarters. It’s also just a stone’s throw from Skrappy’s, ground zero for TFW. Clothing, accessories and artwork greet customers in the front of the space, and behind the counter is where Albert goes to work. Magazine clippings of Ricki Lake in Hairspray, and stills from Valley of the Dolls and Grease are tacked to the walls next to a large table littered with bits and pieces of fabric.
“I think originally I started painting and I moved on to painting on fabric,” Albert says. “Then I started manipulating things I bought at thrift stores. I was poor, so you know, I would go buy things and cut them up and make them look cool. Pretty much anybody who’s creative does that. I realized that’s what I wanted to do for a living. I went to Pima (Community College) for a couple of years and learned all I could. While I was there I started doing fashion shows, like two a month, in Phoenix and Tucson. I entered some competitions in Scottsdale and then won one, and they invited me to their fashion week. That’s the birth of Tucson Fashion Week.”
Albert started her fashion line, Siobhan Clothing, more than a decade ago and expanded the line when she opened CandyStrike in October 2012. At first she designed skirts, dresses, shirts and swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. Then she noticed the fervor for her cutting-edge plus-size designs.
“I do plus-size and straight-size, in industry terms,” Albert says. “I’m highly influenced by film and music. With plus-sizes my main goal is to make things you won’t see anywhere else. Since that market is so small, I think it’s important to make awesome clothes and not just ‘grandma’ clothes. Same with straight sizes, but I think with the plus-size industry especially.”
Her advice to young fashion designers?
“Just do stuff! I think it’s daunting (that) when you start studying fashion you realize how much it takes to be a designer and to make money,” Albert says. “But keep working. Don’t just think since you’re in school you can’t do fashion shows. If your city doesn’t have a fashion week, start one! Make shit happen! Don’t be lazy. Learn. If you don’t have money to go to Parsons, go on YouTube and learn. We live in an age of resources. You can do it!”
For Taylor, the fashion bug is in her blood.
“It’s in my DNA. Both my grandmothers were in the business as owners and buyers,” Taylor says. “My mother is the chic-est, most put-together woman I know, and my sister was a professional model and actress. It’s part of a family tradition.”
Taylor, who has a master’s degree in environmental science, first started working in fashion while she held a day job at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Working under the tutelage of local seamstress and designer Pegi Golden in the mid-’90s, Taylor launched her fashion line, Ultravivid. Shortly after she opened a boutique with the same name in the heart of downtown Tucson. After a year and a half, Taylor closed Ultravivid and opened a shop in the foothills called Pour Moi in 2000. The boutique focused on designer labels and small European collections.
“I held a lot of events and shows in the shop and off premise, which helped me hone my love of production,” Taylor says. “I sold Pour Moi in 2008 and took a position with Bill Blass New York as a divisional sales manager, running trunk shows and events in Arizona and Nevada.”
Keeping an emphasis on local design and retailers is important to Taylor. Not only is TFW focusing on Tucson designers, but there’s a culinary angle as well. Several renowned local chefs will lend their talents to the proceedings on Thursday, Oct. 18, when they create dishes that complement Betsey Johnson’s outlandish designs. It’s part of a collaboration among TFW and the University of Arizona’s Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing and Center for American Culture and Ideas. Along with CandyStrike’s Albert, other featured local designers include Heather Lindquist, whose Tonatiuh line Taylor calls “clean, simple and smart designs”; Bowman & Hock, a local mother-and-daughter jewelry crafting team; Rebecca Jay Kids, which Taylor describes as a “whimsical girls’ line of clothing”; and Laura Tanzer, a designer who creates fashions described as “chic, sustainable and geared toward a real sophisticated woman.” Tanzer might be the definition of sophistication. Meeting her on a breezy Friday afternoon at Epic Cafe, I felt like I was in the gaze of a timeless fashion maven. She looks sharp, and there’s a touch of Katharine Hepburn about her. Like Taylor, Tanzer’s love for fashion is in the genes.
“I was born an artist, from a lot of talent on both parents' lineage,” Tanzer says. “I began making clothes for my Barbie with my grandmother and muse, Rose Loretta Tanzer. I started making my own clothes at age 10, then experimenting in my teens with patterns and fabrics and far-out designs, mostly to aggravate my mother. By 18, I was in New York City living with my grandparents and studying at Parsons and FIT. I worked on Seventh Avenue for other designers and the transition to NYU was logical. I knew very little about running a business, so I needed to balance my talent with business knowledge.”
Tanzer took an academic detour when she moved to Tucson to earn a doctorate in natural resources at the UA. This was after receiving degrees from Parsons, the Fashion Institute of Technology and NYU. Her original focus was to combine her talent and business practices to start her own design and manufacturing business. However, she’s been teaching sustainable business practices for the past nine years. But the New York transplant doesn’t seem to mind.
“Tucson inspires me because of the great beauty of the desert, the rawness of it. I love living with the outdoors at my beck and call, something one doesn't do in NYC,” Tanzer says. “I also love the laid-back lifestyle. I think Tucson has potential for a lot of great scenes—art and culture, small business, restaurants—these are all ramping up. Downtown is awesome. I love working there. The energy is palpable, very inspiring!”
Tanzer also has some advice for anybody thinking about getting into the fashion trade.
“Learn your craft and learn it well. A successful designer knows how to construct a garment. Learn all the components of design, construction and production. Don't be afraid of hard work and long hours.”
From October 23rd to October 26th, Lagos, Nigeria will host the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, showcasing the very best in design talent from Africa and the African diaspora. In addition to breathtaking runway shows and an exhibition marketplace, the Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week (GTBLFDW) will present three awards to deserving recipients, International Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year Award, MTN Young Designer of the Year Award and Young Model of the Year Award.
To commemorate its launch, luxury group, Frallain, Inc. has partnered with the Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week to provide a rare opportunity for the recipient of the MTN Young Designer of the Year Award. The lucky winner will receive a six-month paid design internship in New York with international fashion brand EDUN and mentorship by several notable Frallain, Inc. partner brands.
“Given that the mission of Frallain, Inc. is to support and nurture the talent of designers in Africa as well as to help create the logistical environment to engender their success, this partnership with a like-minded organization such as the Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week is an exciting one” noted Roberta Annan, CEO and Founder of Frallain, Inc.
Omoyemi Akerele founder of the Guaranty Trust Bank Lagos Fashion and Design Week further stated ‘we are delighted that the GTBLFDW platform has collaborated with Frallain, Inc; this partnership shows that we can work together to build from within. We believe working together is key to fostering Pan African growth within the industry as a whole and hopefully providing younger designers with opportunities like this to receive mentorship from international brands like EDUN will open the door for more.’
Headquartered in New York, Frallain, Inc. is a luxury company whose portfolio is comprised of established African premium and luxury brands in the categories of Fashion and Leather Goods, Accessories, Wines and Spirits, and other specialty products.
EDUN is part of the luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy) and shows twice a year at New York Fashion Week. “Edun’s mission has always been to support trade with Africa and thus we are excited to welcome a young African talent as part of our trade and training programs. We look forward to having this young designer as part of the team in New York and wish to extend thanks to those who helped to make this program a reality,” says Janice Sullivan, CEO Edun.
Lagos Fashion and Design Week is a multi day fashion event platform that aims to drive the Nigerian fashion industry and lift its profile by bringing together buyers, consumers and the media to view the current collections of designers in the fashion capital of Lagos, Nigeria. Beyond the event, Lagos Fashion and Design Week is a platform that has succeeded in repositioning fashion as a useful tool for commerce and creativity in Nigeria, beyond the traditional glitz and glamour associated with it.
The Oct. 19 fashion and art event at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive in San Diego, will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure San Diego, a charitable group that since 1995 has raised more than $11.9 million to fund free diagnostic mammograms, treatment and services for local uninsured and underinsured women and their families, plus breast cancer research.
Whitney Francis — who designs under the name Whitney Nicole and owns Creative Fashionista — said she will have more than a dozen designs for women and men featured.
The 25-year-old daughter of Carmel Mountain Ranch residents Olivia Francis and John Francis moved to the area as an eighth-grader in 2001. After attending Meadowbrook Middle School in Poway she went to Rancho Bernardo and Abraxas high schools.
Francis said a maternal aunt was a seamstress and she inspired her interest in fashion at a young age. “Clothes can be a fun and exciting way to express yourself,” she said.
The member of RB High’s Class of 2006 said after her junior year she was so eager to start her formal training as a fashion designer that she transferred to Abraxas in order to complete her senior year early. However, she walked with her RB High classmates at June graduation.
“I found my passion and was so driven,” she said, explaining her decision was based on courses to earn her associate degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising beginning in what would have been April of her senior year. Had she not graduated early, she would have needed to wait several months to enroll.
By 2010, she launched Creative Fashionista. Clients have her come to them or they go to her studio in San Diego’s Gaslamp District to buy her one-of-a-kind designs off the rack or request she make them in their size and preferred colors. While Francis said she is interested in designing on a freelance basis for a company that mass produces clothing, she favors spending most of her time working on individual designs for clients.
“I (design) women’s wear and special occasion resort wear,” she said. “This year I’ve launched a men’s wear line.”
Francis said she makes handmade, one-of-a-kind items based upon her clients’ needs and tastes. Her influences are the bohemian lifestyle, items with “an antique sort of feel” and recently she has been inspired by ballet.
“The connection between two ballet partners is so romantic,” she said, adding she is drawn to ballet’s grace.
As for why she has thus far stayed away from mass producing her designs that are typically bought by those ages 14 to 35, Francis said, “There is something so intimate about knowing my client and providing customer service. … I love the interaction.”
She has studio and home consultation options to accommodate her clients’ wishes and to make them comfortable, Francis said. “I love the one-on-one interaction and the possibilities are endless,” she said. “I can make anything for anybody.”
Half of the requests are for everyday attire while the rest are for special events, including wedding dresses. Clients in the Rancho Bernardo area most often request prom dresses. Ready-to-wear items are $50 to $300, while custom designs start at $350, she said.
At Exhibit Ambush Phase 2 Francis said she will feature mix-and-match items plus focus on those that can be layered. Her previous fashion shows include Exhibit Ambush in 2010 and last year’s Fashion Week San Diego.