When thinking back on my style progression there are many people that have had influence on my fashion choices. Most of my fashion influences are women because of the plethera of freedom in womens wear that is not found in mens wear currently. I would say my very first style inspos came from basic ads for department stores. Magazines and their ads were the thing that introduced me to the world of fashion. Once I began exploring and diving into fashion’s world around highschool, I was very into the rules of fashion and listening to or watching enteratainment involved fashion like Americas Next Top Model, Project Runway, Fashion Police, etc. I wanted to know what went with what, what was trending, and when you were supposed to wear what. I loved the allure of a glamorous life that could only be obtained when you were “in the know” about what was “in”. When I decided to go to fashion school at university I was educated on the history and people that have shaped the industry into what it is today, which led me to a more introspective perception of what fashion really was and why I was so interested.
As a I began designing, I fell in love with Coco Chanel. She represented so much of what brought me to fashion. She boldly questioned social and gender norms that so strictly ruled society when she came onto the scene. The misogynistic modern culture of the west that constricted women’s bodies in corsets, cages, and bustles. These things made it impossible for them to do simple things like sit, breath, or ride a bike. This wouldnt do for the modern woman who was starting to enter the work force. Coco was an orphan who was taught to sew when raised by nuns. She became a milliner, a hat maker, at a young age. She opened up her own shop eventually, and it would lead to her opening her own atelier. She wanted to free women from the constraints of the corset to gain freedom and equality but also out of necessity. She gained fame and success in the years leading up to the war, and during the war when women had to join the work force. She brought over jersey materials that had formerly been used in mens sporting uniforms, loose fitting silhouettes to maximize freedom of movement, and popularized costume jewelry so all classes could add some bling to their wardrobe, an aspect of fashion that had previously been a priviledge of only the very wealthy. She was described by some as being masculine and brasine, a disrupter of her time and culture. Which is the main reason for her pedestal in the fashion community. She challenged the status quo and exposed it for what it was. The “rules” of fashion had become prisons that reinforced a class system that was immoral, misogynistic, and racist. Now, even though I very much admire Coco’s work in fashion, it is important to remember that all people are at their core just like you and me. Even people with huge societal and cultural impact that shape the direction of human existence are simply human. They have issues, faults, prejudices just like the rest of us. Coco was no exception. She had somewhat of a checkered romantic history that put her in the company of powerful men that may or may not have been monsters. Whatever her actual personal life entailed, She effected fashion in a hugely positive way, in my opinion. With Chanel as my main designer influence I stormed through fashion school fooled by the hurt and anger that had built up over the years from the treatment I had recieved for my choice of clothing. People saying I was too feminine, bizarre, and aggressive. People’s fear of the unknown and their own idea of how each person should present themsleves had rendered ridicule, loss of oppurtunities, and even violence towards me; and I hated that. It also fueled my ambition, work ethic, and creativity.
Along side my discovery of Chanel I found Grace Jones. If you are not aware, Grace Jones, was a model, actress, and recording artist that was very famous in the 80’s. A regular at famous establishments like Studio 54, Jones made a splash with her outrageous outfits and behavior. She has a highly androgynous look that made people infatuated with her and what she “was”. Perhaps her most mainstream fame was her role as May Day in the Bond Franchise “A View To Kill.” Her style was agendered and aggressive. She also had a fascination with menswear, especially uniforms, this fascination expanded the boundaries of what women would wear for years to come. She was a muse for many, and an icon for others. Over all her impact on me was her fearless disruption of the status quo. I took from Jones’ legacy the practice of questioning what I am being told to see if it is actually something I believe or not.
As I grew as a person and designer, I began to appreciate all the positive people that have encouraged my creativity and personal style. People like: my best friend, Hannah; my Mom; my Mema; my fashion school bestie, Anna; and my little sister, Abby. (There are more but these are the ones who have made the largest impact on my fashion obsession) My Mema’s ability to always be put together has always impressed me. Her fashion is consistent, and always matches. She loves to use color in her wardrobe and follows the pretty simple formula of pleated or pressed trousers, a blouse, and a jacket/sweater over the top. It so perfectly fits her and is adorable. My mom has always disliked shopping for clothes and any event that might force her to dress outside of her normal daily uniform of capris and a t-shirt. It seems that she thinks of fashion as a hill to steep for her to climb. Whenever we have an activity or event that requires her to ditch usual uniform she seems discouraged or unsastisfied with what she comes up with. My mother is stunningly beautiful but does not seem to pull confidence from that when it comes to her personal style. Saying all this might make it seem odd that I consider her a fashion inspiration, but it is her frustration or lack of understanding about fashion that fuels my love for helping people choose their clothes and talking to them about their personal style. I also so admire her priorities, and how the superficial aspects of one’s appearance do not drive her forward. She dresses in her simple uniform for practicality and comfortability because her first priority is as care giver for those around her. It is truly noble, and is easy to forget about if you are constantly surrounded my “fashion” people. It is easy to forget that fashion has to be worn by people, and not everyone wants to be a walking work of art.
I list my best friend Hannah because she has been my closest friend since i was about fifteen years old. As I mentioned before: my personality, gestures, and clothing tend to stand out from a crowd, which can be difficult to be around let alone support. Hannah has always encouraged me in my fashion interest and search for a personal aesthetic. This means the world to me and is one of the main reasons I decided to go to fashion school. As I have grown in my personal style I have been lucky enough to be a onlooker on the personal style journey of my little sister Abby. In high school my little sister started taking an interest in the trhift shop phenomonen that came about from the “hipster” movement. She took it another direction however. While the ther girls were buying the old high wasted mom jeans and cutting them off to make trendy daisy dukes, Abby was buying the neck to floor denim dresses that you might see in the menonnite community. With the phrase “OooOOo it makes me look really boxy, im getting it” being uttered from the dressing room on a regular basis. Hearing this as the fashion school, outragious, “in your face” dresser that I was, was refreshing. Abby and I talk frequently about fashion and it brings joy to my heart to see her thinking through her sillhouette and style with purpose. It reflects where she is at in her personal story. When I have asked her about her love for covering up head to toe in what can only be described, silhouette-wise, as a tent, she has said,” I just would rather know that my body is beautiful underneath all this, then have to show it to find out.” (this is me paraphrasing) I found that to be a beautiful thought and it has stuck with me. My best friend from fashion school, Anna Heinold, (GO FOLLOW HER! @annaleighdesigns on Instagram) is a huge influence on me as a designer and person. We met our freshman year of fashion school at Lindenwood in our Sewing Fundamentals class. She was the best sewer in the class and I was somewhere near the middle/bottom. We quickly formed a friendship and became each others closest confidant while going through design school. She is the most talented designer I know personally. Her work ethic is trully inspiring and she has always supported me in my fashion work and kept me honest with my work ethic at times. (Sometimes I like to cut corners and take the easy way in design LOL) Anna’s personal style effects my personal style most in the form of layering. Anna is the queen of layers. She consistently wear socks with sandles, blouses under dresses, and she has a beuatiful colletion of tights.
There are, of course, others that have influenced me but these are the people that are involved most in my inner conversation about my design work and personal style choices. I want to thank all of those that have been a part of my fashion journey and especially to all these women.