Thursday, 26 September 2013

Interview with Kathy - Stanford Row

Hello everyone! Hope we are all well, as mentioned the website StanfordRow have asked me to re-write up the an interview with a new upcoming designer Kathy Wilson.. So here we go!!

If you are familiar with or have watched Joe Zee’s (Elle creative director) “All On The Line” on the Sundance Channel then there’s a high chance you will be familiar with Kathy Wilson. In Season 2, Episode 3; Joe Zee helps Kathy renovate her line from sedate to stylish and I got the chance to write the interview which allows us into her world and see what inspires her.

With designs which have captured something quite unique and display the quality and technical skill which fills people with the appreciation for her craft and furthermore, her creative mind, what can she tell us about her work? My atelier launched after I designed a jacket for Stevie Wonder that he wore to the President Obama's first White House Correspondents' Dinner. I am a menswear and womenswear designer who started on red carpet pieces for celebrities under Richard Tyler Couture.  I love doing gowns and suits but after researching where the market was moving, I decided to launch a contemporary line during my participation in a reality show.” With her working in her own work space in Brooklyn it must be hard to make bespoke designs but she seems to think this way is best for her, “I sketch and drape on my dress forms here.  Then I get my samples done and take sales appointments out of my showroom in New York's garment district.”

However, the Question on everyone’s lips; what made her want to design bespoke garments? “My introduction to bespoke clothing came from my first job at Richard Tyler.  It was where I learned how to measure and make beautiful clothes inside and out." With a now ever growing appreciation for clothes and the way you can piece them together, I want to know what are her thoughts are on bespoke items: “I love bespoke clothing but it is very hard to find customers that understand the artisanal quality and care of this type of work.  Most consumers follow trends and don't have a sense of quality that bespoke customers understand." Never has someone said it better! At Stanford Row they are really passionate about helping people becoming more confident and swarvĂ©/savvy dresser. However, I feel that the bespoke clothes are beginning to be appreciated more and more by the consumer. I would like to know in this current climate what is her most pressing challenges that she faces? “"I find that Americans are all about sales.  Black Friday and getting a great deal has programmed people to only buy things on discount.  It turns people in hoarders instead of people that love things that they can hold onto and resell later on." This is the reality that is faced by most people. As it seems, there needs to be a transformation of peoples thinking, one genuine item at a time. The thing that we find the biggest difference with bespoke as opposed to mass produced, is the relationship. Suddenly, you have a relationship with the person making your garment as opposed to no relationship at all. So how does Kathy work with her clients? “I generally have clients that see my work and then make request for a suit or a dress.  Then I ask them what their budget is because I want to make sure I go under budget.  I proceed by asking them what they like and don't like about their body.  I ask about fabrics, colors, cuts, and then I take their measurements.  I create three sketches and then they get to pick which one they want to make.  Sometimes, they make all of them." This is something that most people are missing out on when purchasing everyday garments. This, personally, is what excites me about the process; you can discuss figures and flaws and tastes and really get it right.

Your designs are obviously gorgeous, you have been spotted by a notable person in need of an outfit for a special event, who would you really like to dress in your designs? “My dream client is Angelina Jolie because she is a beautiful person on the inside as well as on the outside.  That my ideal client in general.  I want to dress people that make a difference in the world in a positive way." This is a lovely thought! Which item from your range on Stanford Row would you tailor make for them and why? "I would make her the Iris dress because it combines softness with the purple silk burnout fabric and some edginess using the black lambskin leather.  It is feminine but conveys strength." This is an ideal dress for her and she would look stunning. As it shows off her cleavage and then accentuates the hip. So how did she get here? Were there any key moments? Can she see the trail?
"My mom owns a salon in the Silicon Valley that I used to help out at in order to spend time with her.  As a result, I was surrounded by very successful women that inspired me to design for the woman I wanted to become. When I went to FIDM in Los Angeles I landed an internship with Richard Tyler and got hired after my third day as an intern.  I started working with celebrities before I graduated and learned all about impeccable tailoring from him.
I left my job there to be with my husband during his military service.  It took us to Japan where I got to live for three years taking in fashion inspiration.  I designed gowns for some of the military wives and learnt about manufacturing overseas. When I came back to the states, my husband suggested we go to New York to help me get back into fashion.  I had many custom clients and made a profit on my first orders. Then I got a request from Stevie Wonder's people to do a jacket for him.  When I delivered it, they decided that he would wear it to the White House Correspondents' Dinner the following day. It was the best day of my professional life. I met Stevie Wonder's wife for lunch at Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills to deliver his jacket.  Afterwards, we walked to her studio where she asked me if it would be okay to have him wear it to the White House.  Then she showed me the collection she was working on for Michelle Obama and I got to touch all of the dresses and give her my thoughts.  It was amazing." So who has inspired here to get to where she is today? “Richard Tyler. In the way I finish my custom garments.”Lastly what would she say to the people who are thinking about taking clothes out of the mass producers and entrusting it into the tailors, dressmakers and specialists out there today? “I would tell them that they will not look at clothing the same way again. Having clothes made for you is special, and wearing them makes you feel powerful. Where mass production makes us fit into average, bespoke empowers us to be fully who we are."

I think it’s fair to say her journey is both inspiring and well deserved. If you too have been inspired by Kathy’s designs click here to find her online at where you can find designs tailor made to you! 

Thank you so much for reading - Nextweek LFW/StreetStyle
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