Designer Gawk: Kelly Lynne Designs


FIT alum and designer Kelly Sager is one of my (seriously) all-time favorite new designers. All gushing aside (like I usually do; sorry), Kelly has seduced me in recent months with her extremely forward, funky, anecdotal creations and the fantasical ad concepts that follow. Where there was "risky" animalia at Erin Fetherston just two weeks ago, there was "fashion with art;" "under the radar," "nothing into something" elegance at Kelly Lynne last year. I don't even quite know her, but in my research and in the following interview I can already tell Miss Sager is a duck of similar feathers to my own aesthetic - if I had designed years ago as I had dreamed, I would have followed her mantra...everything is better if it's a little strange. Another plus j'adore: Kelly reuses found materials as often as possible to create.

 I’ve read a little bit about your story, but how did you decide to become a part of this industry? Did you always want to design clothing?
I started by just making things for myself after my mom taught me how to sew in high school - I'd make skirts and dresses because I could never find what I wanted in the stores. When I really decided I needed to take a different career path, I was working in advertising at a newspaper, and had been unhappy for awhile. I've always been a creative person, so I just knew that I couldn't spend my life sitting in a cubicle. I applied to my top two choices as far as fashion design programs go (FIT and Parsons, both in NYC), and I thought, if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. (I already have a degree in journalism and never really did anything with that.) 

A preview from Kelly Lynne's next collection
At first I felt like applying to those schools was kind of a joke - like I didn't really actually think I'd get in. I got into both of them, and I knew there was no way I couldn't go. My experience at FIT was one of the best of my life, and the fashion design program there is just incredible.

Your designs are so feminine, even a little vintage-feeling, but everything is incredibly fresh at the same time and very wearable. Tell us about your work. Where do you look for/find inspiration?
Actually I don't really seek out inspiration when it comes to designing a collection, as weird as this might sound - it always comes to me. My most recent collection for Fall/Winter 2012-13 for example, came from the book The Night Circus - I was just reading that book for enjoyment, and I've always loved creepy vintage circus art and tales, and it really spoke to me - so I made an entire collection inspired by that

I personally really appreciate and love that the majority of your designs are created from recycled materials. How important to you is sustainable design? Do you plan to continue this mantra throughout your career?

I think it's important to me when I can use it and it flows well with the collection. All of the leather I use is recycled - and I think it's important to give something that has been discarded a new life when and if you can. Am I going to sew a bunch of t-shirts together to make a dress just to say it's recycled? No - the design and overall creation comes first - if I can use something that's been used before, I absolutely will. I love to try and work with things that are unexpected. 

 You seem to stick with blacks, grays, silver and various other metallics much of the time. Is this your signature color palette or do you design with other shades?
Black is definitely always in every collection, but I wouldn't say I have a signature color palette. My first collection was a lot of metallics and black, like you said - my second collection was softer - more black of course, but I had 

pale pink, peach, white, ivory, soft grey

And my newest collection is just three colors - black, white and red. I definitely like the darker hues in general, and I think my aesthetic always has a slightly creepy or "off" feel to it. 

Do you have a set way of creating garments or do you like to experiment with new techniques? If so, can you tell us what types of techniques you’ve practiced lately?
I think I try new things every year, but with the same basic foundation. For example, each collection begins with a mood board - then some quick sketches - then more detailed sketches. Then I get together the color palette from swatch collecting. Some of the patterns I draft - and some of them I drape on the dress form. But this year I decided to do water color paintings first of the sketches, for example...which inspired me to actually paint some of the fabric in the newest collection.

Random thought. Favorite beverage. Share with us. Why? 

This is going to be really non-exciting to you, but I would say ice cold water. Because it's delicious and we need it to survive. 

 Your website hints that you are working on a “fashion horror film” (I’m basically obsessed with this idea, btw). Can you share a little about what this entails and when we may see it happen?
 I got the idea from the new trend in "fashion film" -  designers such as Rodarte and Miu Miu did some really cool little fashion films last year that inspired me, and I thought, how cool would it be if I did that but made it into a horror film where I designed the costumes? I've always loved horror, and as I mentioned before I feel like there is almost an element of creepiness in the garments I design. There is a local production company called Lion Belly Productions that has been doing 15 minute horror film shorts, and I approached them about working together. They were really supportive and excited. I half wrote the script with writer/director Brian Lillie - we actually pretty much finished it - now we just have to start shooting! I'm hoping we can get working on it this fall. It's going to be pretty amazing.

Kelly makes costumes, too! These are Alice in Wonderland costumes; available on Etsy
Where do you see your business in five years? 

More of what I'm already doing, just on a bigger level. My goal is to have a shop in downtown Detroit that features my new collections as well as feature other local designers. Detroit is really up-and-coming, and just a very cool and unique place - I really want to see it succeed in creating a fashion district, and will do everything I can to help see that happen. 

To shop and see more of this fellow heroine chic-er, visit Kelly's website, follow her on FB and Twitter and shop at her site on Etsy:)


Kristianne said...

this is one of my favorite interviews so far!!!!

The White List said...

Very cool!!!

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