Ola Mai teams up with Lauren Athalia

Photographer Lauren Athalia worked with designer Leslie Stephens' label, Ola Mai on a collaboration around the theme of process for Fashion Happening Nashville.

 Ola Mai and Lauren Athalia display at Fashion Happening Nashville

Ola Mai and Lauren Athalia display at Fashion Happening Nashville

 Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

 Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

 Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

Lauren Athalia for Ola Mai

 Designer Leslie Stephens with Photographer Lauren Athalia

Designer Leslie Stephens with Photographer Lauren Athalia

 Model Laura Citron with Designer Leslie Stephens

Model Laura Citron with Designer Leslie Stephens

Designer Emil Erwin collaborates with photographer Brett Warren

Fashion Happening Nashville brought together accessories designer and maker Emil Erwin and photographer Brett Warren around the theme of process. 

"The images that I collaborated with designer Emil Erwin depict an imaginary process of creativity. A solitary figure has collected 3 precious trinkets to be sewn deep into the ground. Time passes, and a necessary item for survival emerges from the dirt. Patience, resourcefulness, and creativity will forever be a cornerstone of good fashion." Brett Warren

 Dot Bag by Emil Erwin

Dot Bag by Emil Erwin

 Brett Warren for Emil Erwin

Brett Warren for Emil Erwin

 Brett Warren for Emil Erwin

Brett Warren for Emil Erwin

 Photos and bag on display at Fashion Happening Nashville

Photos and bag on display at Fashion Happening Nashville

 Photos on display at Fashion Happening Nashville

Photos on display at Fashion Happening Nashville

 Brett Warren

Brett Warren

Featured Photographer - Zachary Gray

 for Material Girl Magazine

for Material Girl Magazine

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

Juergen Teller, Helmut Newton, and Venetia Scott

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

Select Service and System are my favorite fashion magazines. I see cool things on Instagram too.

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

I've wanted to work with Ashley for quite some time and this particular project allowed us that opportunity. I view every shoot as a collaboration. Things are always best executed with a team and I'm very happy with how our shoot went.

What three words would you use to describe your work?

I had to get some help with this, but came up with: Intuitive. Concise. Subtle.

 for Goodwin

for Goodwin

How did you become a photographer?

I began my freshman year of college as an audio engineer major and felt very out of place. I switched to design and took the beginning photo class and fell in love with film and the whole darkroom process. It happened pretty naturally. From there I just took pictures of friends and wanted to learn as much as possible. I started to slowly figure things out. (Still working on it).

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

I'm still a young person who wants to be a photographer so I'm not sure how good my advice is, but I'd say if it's what you want to be then aim high and let it take over. Pictures and fashion pretty much consume my thoughts/life.

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

The best shoots are when everyone is committed and excited about an idea. It's fun to see it all come together. Most recently I was in Oregon for the first time shooting on a sheep farm in a town with 423 people. I don't travel too often so it makes it very exciting when I do.

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

Nashville is very comfortable and there's a real sense of community here which I love. Lots of people are doing great things and most of them are my friends, which is really cool. I guess limitations would be the size/market, but I kind of like it too. There's going to be frustrations wherever you go, but so far Nashville has treated me very well.

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy shooting film and waiting to get scans back is the best part.

What is your favorite subject?

Fashion.

See Zachary's photographs and his collaboration with Ona Rex at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Max Hsu

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

I actually got into photography as a way to practice lighting for cinema so my biggest influences are probably Spielberg, Fincher, Nolan and Pfister.

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

When I get models for fashion stuff, it’s fantastic, but a lot of my work is music related and the artists don’t come into it with a repertoire of poses so I’m trying to learn from Sue Bryce and Peter Hurley.  

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

With every photo shoot I go through great lengths to understand what the client wants, to see through their eyes, to become them, rather than imposing my style on them.  With Andrew that was relatively easy since we have worked together on many music related shoots.  He’s not only a designer, he’s the best wardrobe stylist in town in my opinion.  

What three words would you use to describe your work?

Learning, learning and learning.

How did you become a photographer?

When my band was signed, the photographer chosen for our photo shoot was a big deal who had shot a lot of celebrities.  He was talented, but I felt like the vision I had for the band wasn’t being communicated.  When I expressed that, the photographer said to me; “why don’t you just stand there and look pretty and let us take the pictures”.   I resolved to learn to master every aspect of the creative process so I wouldn’t be in that situation again.  

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

I’m not sure young people need advice.  The point of being young is to break rules you don’t even know are there.  You do the impossible because no one tells you that it’s impossible.  That’s something that needs to be nurtured and protected before the pragmatism of client work beats the dreams right out of people.  

 Photograph by Max Hsu

Photograph by Max Hsu

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

I don’t know if I have fun on shoots, I’m usually very very focused.  I do enjoy working with Andrew though because we get to color outside the lines.

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

The scene is surprisingly uncompetitive.  I’ve met lots of great filmmakers and photographers who have been very generous with their time and advice.  David Molnar and Jeremy Cowart both are very generous with their teaching.  
The limitations are that while there’s lots of work here, the majority of it is straight up the middle and no one is going to pay you to do something with exploding cars and ninjas.  I have to fund that stuff myself.

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy conceptualizing unique shoots.  I try not to repeat myself.  It’s always a challenge to get it out of your brain and onto the screen, but when it works, it’s pretty awesome.

What is your favorite subject?

I shoot people.  I believe that there is something beautiful about every person and my job is to find it through the lens.

See Max's photographs and his collaboration with Any Old Iron at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Designer - Maria Silver

 Toni Silver by Jamie Goodsell

Toni Silver by Jamie Goodsell

How did you get your start as a fashion designer?

My mother sewed and my first design gig was for my Barbie dolls. I had a Latin barbie from California named Teresa that loved a full circle skirt in wild patterns! She was a skater (came with her own bright yellow board) and wasn't afraid of taking risks. I also had three of the Barbie and the Rocker members and they were always up for crazy designs. I think I'm still designing for all of them in a way.

 Ruby Amanfu by Sherwin Lainez in BBMS

Ruby Amanfu by Sherwin Lainez in BBMS

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere but I generally can't leave a museum without a full collection in mind. This current collection I was looking into female Dadaist.

What do you enjoy about the Nashville design community?

I love how collaborative and supportive it is. I think we all realize that there's so much we can learn from one another and being competitive can be a wasteful way to use your energy.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

Wholesale fabric is probably at the top of the list. But I think traveling for fabrics is part of the hustle and adds to the process of the collection.

Who/What is your number one fashion icon?

It lies somewhere between Bianca Jagger, Denise Huxtable and Teresa (my Latin skater barbie).

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed? 

I've loved creating bags with painter Kelly Williams' drop cloths. Each piece is like carrying around a tiny piece of her art. I've also loved this project with Jo McCaughey! It was a whole crew of talented women and it's always a joy to see people thriving in their craft.

What is a goal you have for your business?

I'm hoping this next year finds BBMS expanding our client base and our in house production capabilities.

 Native Magazine December 2015

Native Magazine December 2015

What’s the hardest part about being a fashion designer?

All of it! Ha ha! I think any time you take an entrepreneurial route like this you find yourself 100% out there, spiritually, artistically and financially. It's a very vulnerable state but if you love what you do, it's worth it.

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

I have this romanticized image of what seasons were to the fashion industry stemmed from being a teenager and eagerly waiting for the collections to come out, running to the store to grab the new issue of vogue and then devouring it for hours without having to see other peoples comments. But the reality now is that social media has completely changed the game. I'm meeting it all somewhere in the middle.

What three words describe your style?

Utilitarian, brazen, dance-wear

Why is it important to buy local?

Buying local can be a way for a person to contribute to the community, local economy and help ease the impact of fast fashion on the environment. On top of that, you end up with a unique, often VERY limited, garment or accessory that you'll treasure. It's a win/win situation.

See Maria's designs and her collaboration with photographer Jo McCaughey at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Jo McCaughey

 Jo McCaughey

Jo McCaughey

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

For inspiration I look all around me. I get inspired from all different sources, books, movies, music, people and the internet of course, but there are no specific websites I look at. 

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

Collaborating with Poni and her super Black By Maria Silver creations has been fun and rewarding. It's great when you find people you can work together with easily and create. 

How did you become a photographer?

When I was younger I was always compelled to document my life and the lives of those around me. I brought my cameras everywhere with me. I would ask people who I found interesting or inspiring if I could make their portrait. Somewhere along the line what was something I was naturally going about doing turned into a career. It was a happy accident i suppose. That and a lot of hard work and some good luck along the way. 

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

Keep shooting. Work hard to challenge yourself and your work. Take yourself and your work seriously. Seek out people who interest you and collaborate. 

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

When a shoot is going well and you start to hit that magic flow, thats a great feeling. 

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

There are many amazing photographers in this town. It is a strong, thriving and very supportive community. 

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

Each project is different, depending on the subject matter, purpose of the shoot and style in which you are working, but it is always rewarding to stand back and view the finished product.

What is your favorite subject?

People. 

See Jo's photographs and her collaboration with Maria Silver at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Designer - Carolyn Burgess of Acorn + Archer

 Ouija on Leather

Ouija on Leather

How did you get your start as a jewelry designer?

I started with a different line of jewelry about 15 years ago and like many designers, just created for myself and friends until a boutique owner inquired where she could get her own.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Primarily from decades past. You can find art deco patterns as well as mod Bauhaus lines in my designs.

 Uwan in White Porcelain

Uwan in White Porcelain

What do you enjoy about the Nashville design community?

The support and encouragement you receive from other designers.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

With my focus on clay right now, I wish we had more resources for beginners. I took a community education class for two years to have access to a kiln before purchasing my own and getting my own studio space. It is an expensive startup, but so much fun!

Who is your number one fashion icon?

Jane Birkin

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed?

Though we've never intentionally collaborated at the creation phase, Shannon of People Like Art and myself always design pieces that are very complementary of the other's work. We've paired her clothing with my jewelry for photo shoots, runway shows and just for website material and it always looks as though the clothing and accessories were designed with the other in mind. We both love to get together and do the pairings and ohhh and ahhh about it.

 Ohm Necklace

Ohm Necklace

What is a goal you have for your business?

I plan to expand to home goods in 2017

What’s the hardest part about being a jewelry designer?

Jewelry is an accessory and it is really hard to make it front and center. If you are planning a photo shoot or just an outfit, it's easy to be swayed by a great pattern or cut of a garment and the jewelry can get lost.

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

No, I find that jewelry is always in season.

What three words describe your style?

Mod, natural, statement

Why is it important to buy local?

It is so great to be able to know where your fashion comes from, but the main reasons are that it impacts the local economy and environment by requiring less to be trucked in. It cuts down on processing, packaging and transportation waste as well as supporting local businesses who in turn can produce more income, jobs and taxes for our community than big box stores. I would rather support quality products being made locally than lower prices of foreign sweat shop labor.

See Carolyn's designs and her collaboration with photographer Ashtin Paige at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Ramiah Branch

 Photographer Ramiah Branch

Photographer Ramiah Branch

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

Peter Lindbergh, Richard Avedon, Bruce Weber, and Mark Seliger

What three words would you use to describe your work?

Raw, Expressive, Classic

How did you become a photographer?

 photo by Ramiah Branch

photo by Ramiah Branch

I bought a camera to go to hip hop shows to take pictures of sneakers for a music and sneaker blog I started back in 2010. That's all I ever wanted to do with my camera. As you can see the universe had other plans for me. haha.

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

I would say the time I spent in LA and all the shoots I did there. It is something I have never thought I would have the chance to do and I went out there and exceeded my expectations for how I thought I would do. It was a really good feeling and a great confidence builder to go into a bigger market and do incredible work

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

I love interacting with the subjects. There is always a good chance a dance party will break out as a way to get them to loosen up and have fun.

 photo by Ramiah Branch

photo by Ramiah Branch

See Ramiah's photographs and his collaboration with Isabel SK at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Ashtin Paige

 Ashtin Paige

Ashtin Paige

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

Oh gosh, I have so many... I look up these photographers' work almost every day. Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Cecil Beaton, Helmut Newton, Erwin Blumenfeld, Bill Cunningham, Vivian Maier, Alex Sainsbury, Alessio Bolzoni, Peter Lindbergh, Annie Leibovitz, Arthur Elgort and more recently, Juergen Teller.

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

I'm always looking for inspiration anywhere I can but these magazines and websites have been good to me and my creative process: Nylon, The Gentlewoman, The Great Discontent, WWD, Union, The Travel Almanac, Dazed, Violet...and Pinterest! Duh.

 Photograph by Ashtin Paige for Emlee Designs

Photograph by Ashtin Paige for Emlee Designs

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

I've been a fan of Acorn + Archer for some time now and worked with Carolyn once before a year ago. I love that we were paired up because she is a FUN hang. Carolyn challenged me to be more playful and less zeroed in on the "process" of making art and to use my imagination to make art. It sounds odd, but for me, I can get so hung up on a particular idea and take it way too literally. This collaboration process has taught me that it's okay to let go and get weird.

What three words would you use to describe your work?

Work in progress.

How did you become a photographer?

My mother dabbled in modeling and photography at a young age. I remember finding some photos she took and developed in high school and admiring those moments in time - the light, the clothes, the expressions. All of it. I was gifted a polaroid camera when I was about 11 years old and would make my friends model for me; using fashion magazines as a reference. I'd read the articles after studying all of the photos first. When I was 18, I was asked to take engagement photos for a friend's cousin. After that, the bookings kept coming in and I knew photography was what I wanted to pursue full-time.

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

Be gracious with yourself. It's easy to feel as if you have to have your aesthetic figured out right away and the truth is, you don't. Let yourself discover what you're drawn to and inspired by. Ask questions. Step outside of your comfort zone once in awhile - you'll surprise yourself.

 Kelsey Waters by Ashtin Paige

Kelsey Waters by Ashtin Paige

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

I use playlists that represent the tone of the shoot I'm working on to get in the right frame of mind and during this one particular shoot that was more of an ambient vibe, Beyonce randomly came on. I have no idea how or why. I nervously looked at the client, whom I had just met, and suddenly a mini-dance party broke out. Everyone was so relaxed after that moment! Naturally, because... Beyonce. Definitely didn't hate that.

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

The advantage I've found is the community and I know I'm not the first to say that. The community is truly unmatched --there is room for everyone. The people here are equally invested in their relationships as they are in their work. We take care of each other. I look up to so many photographers in town and admire what they are accomplishing. I admire them even more for being kind humans. Nashville is becoming more and more aware of the creative community and recognizing the value our contributions add to this city. Can you tell I love it here? Nashville also has its limitations for certain photo work at times whether it's finding the right client or the right budget to support their vision.

What is your favorite subject?

Humans.

See Ashtin's photographs and her collaboration with Acorn + Archer at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Brett Warren

 Brett Warren

Brett Warren

 Photograph by Brett Warren

Photograph by Brett Warren

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?

Tim Walker, Steven Meisel, and Annie Leibovitz. You could have asked for a list of 10, and the names would have all changed, but these three will always remain the same. Each have their own personal style, and have carved out a very unique niche in the industry.

What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?

Love Magazine is my absolute favorite. The editorials are so very daring, and they don't hold back. I also utilize the resources on showstudio.com. Ran by British icon and photographer Nick Night, this site is a library of inspiration and technique.

How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?

I always ask what the story behind a piece is. Who is it for, real or imaginative, and where did it come from. I love creating visual narratives for designers, and telling a dynamic story through still imagery.

What three words would you use to describe your work?

Narrative, Fantastical, with a touch of Escapism.

How did you become a photographer?

I always had a disposable camera with me as a kid, and loved to create. After high school people began asking me to take photos for them, and it just grew from there. I studied darkroom photography for 4 years in college, and then began taking professional photos in 2010.

What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?

Create the work for yourself that you wish to do for others. I wish I could shout this from a rooftop. In order to get the work you desire, you must provide a sketch of what it is you might create for a brand or company. Once they get a glimpse of this possibility, they are more likely to take a chance on your unique vision.

What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?

I love when the entire team unites under the umbrella of a specific vision. There is often a brief moment where the imaginative world you have created together seems real, and its my favorite part of this job.

What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?

Resources in Nashville have always been a challenge. People often don't let you pull for an editorial because you aren't buying. All the while, you are trying to paint an ideal picture using their product to entice the viewer to dream. Perhaps it's just a difference in priorities, but it's something I dream of improving in this town. The real advantage of working in Nashville is that this town is a safe place to learn. Yes, the standards are high, but I find people have been more forgiving compared to other locations.

Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?

I love the part of any project where you have the opportunity to sit and dream up a really good story. It's one of the best parts. In that moment, before budgets or logistics... anything is possible.

What is your favorite subject?

Really good clothing. I love clothes that tell a story, and a strong model to carry them well and create within. When both these elements are present, be prepared to walk away with something that will last a lot longer than you or I.

 Photograph by Brett Warren

Photograph by Brett Warren

See Brett's photographs and his collaboration with Emil Erwin at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Designer - Andrew Clancey of Any Old Iron

 Mr Clancey (in purple) among his designs

Mr Clancey (in purple) among his designs

How did you get your start as a fashion designer?

I have a store and couldn’t get the pieces I knew would sell. Stumbled on a production where the quality was great and started from there.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Punk, disco and the UK music scene.

What do you enjoy about the Nashville design community?

Everyone has their own thing and are helpful to each other. There’s no competition.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

More fashion publication and more fashion forward stores.

 Curated Fashion Show, 2016

Curated Fashion Show, 2016

Who/What is your number one fashion icon?

 A  Punk Liberace.

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed?

I enjoyed working with Eric Adler, I like his attitude. He’s never afraid to take his shirt off.

What is a goal you have for your business?

Would like to open a store on Mars but Uranus would probably have better atmosphere 

What’s the hardest part about being a fashion designer?

Selling enough

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

No, hate them. Ban them. 

What three words describe your style?

Anarchy Chaos Disco

Why is it important to buy local?

I have a store that’s local and I like nice vacations so please come buy pretty things that will make you more popular and get laid.

See Andrew's designs and his collaboration with photographer Max Hsu at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Photographer - Lauren Athalia

 Lauren Athalia

Lauren Athalia

What photographers have been the biggest influence on you?
Tim Walker, Annie Leibovitz, Kristian Schuller, Ruven Afanador, Kirsty Mitchell, JUCO


What magazines and websites do you look at for inspiration?
George Melies films, Jules Verne novels, W magazine, Vogue Italia, NASA, and Fairytales & Folklore


How have you handled the collaboration process when working with a fashion designer?
Communication and making sure everyone one wants the same thing; to capture art and share it with others.


What three words would you use to describe your work?
Conceptual, Storyteller, and Colorful

 Lauren Athalia for Hella TL Swimwear

Lauren Athalia for Hella TL Swimwear


How did you become a photographer?
I picked up a camera in high school and couldn't seem to put it down.

 Photo by Lauren Athalia

Photo by Lauren Athalia


What advice would you give young people who want to be a photographer?
Just keep shooting. Even if you feel like a failure just keep shooting. You will find the answers behind the camera and in the people you meet during the process.


What was the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?
It really becomes fun when a vision that has rattled around in your brain for so long starts to come together right in front of your eyes.


What are the limitations/advantages of being a photographer in Nashville?
Finding your voice and learning how to stand out from a sea of other creatives.


Which part of the photography process do you enjoy the most?
Seeing a vision come to life in the form of a still image.


What is your favorite subject?
Fiction

See Lauren's photographs and her collaboration with Ola Mai at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Designer - Emil Erwin

 Emil in his studio. Photo by Andrea Behrends.

Emil in his studio. Photo by Andrea Behrends.

How did you get your start as a designer?

The term designer is one that shouldn't be taken lightly.  Competent designers can take ideas to the final product and understand all the ins and outs along the way.  Not to say that if you can’t ______, you aren’t a designer, but I feel it's important to understand all aspects of something you want to create, as each step informs the design.  Since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the idea of taking materials and bringing them together to create something useful.  Emil Erwin has been my full time gig for six years, but I am just now becoming comfortable with the idea of calling myself a designer.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

I would love access to more materials and hardware.  Everything I get has to be ordered and is at least days away, and often much longer.  I have a very tactile design process, with little pencil to paper time.  I like to just get right into fabrication and if I don’t have the materials I need when inspiration strikes, I’m stuck.

Who is your number one fashion icon?

I just googled fashion icon??  I really dig what Celine is creating.  Their design is so clean and purposeful, while remaining intriguing.

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed?

We worked with Barneys early on.  It was an incredible experience to learn how the machine works at that level.

What is a goal you have for your business?

I want to grow our production capabilities, in house.  I have spent the last 6 years building a small factory with all the equipment we need.  I know of only a couple of facilities in the region that have our capabilities.  Now I just have to fill all of these chairs. ;)

 Photo by Andrea Behrends.

Photo by Andrea Behrends.

What’s the hardest part about being a designer?

The intersection of art/design and commerce is the hardest part.  Everything I design and create is such a personal outpouring, and then I have to put a price tag on it.  It is hard then not to take it personally when sales are down.  You have to consciously separate ego from your work if you want to thrive in an environment where you are trying to sell your work.  That, and being poor.

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

Not really.  It does affect some color choices from summer to winter, but overall I try to create designs that stand the test of time/seasons.

What three words describe your style?

Black^3
 

See Emil's designs and his collaboration with photographer Brett Warren at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Featured Designer - Ashley Balding of Ona Rex

 Designer Ashley Balding, portrait by Brett Warren

Designer Ashley Balding, portrait by Brett Warren

How did you get your start as a fashion designer?

Fashion has always been something I've loved, but it took me some time into my twenties to realize it could be an actual career path. Once I decided it was the direction I wanted to go, I went back to school to get my Bachelor's in Fashion Design and haven't looked back. I gained experience with brands like Otis James and Ceri Hoover and started Ona Rex in 2014.  It's been an incredibly hard but incredibly wonderful journey so far!

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration can spring up from any where for me. Sometimes its a particular scene in a movie. Sometimes its a time period that all the sudden forms stories in my head. Sometimes it's a splash of color on a wall. It really is quite serendipitous! I usually start with a mood from there and work my way into shapes, fabrics, and colors.

What do you enjoy about the Nashville design community?

Nashville is pretty unique in its community. With literally any industry, there is competition, but in Nashville there is a greater desire to learn and grow from each other. I am always amazed at the amount of collaboration that goes on here. It's so encouraging to know that others are going through similar situations and that we can always learn from each other.

What resources do you wish Nashville had more of for designers?

I think I am always on the hunt for new and interesting raw materials. We have some great places here, but there is SO MUCH out there that we don't even know about! I am obsessed with strange textures and saturated colors. Sometimes it can be tough to find exactly what I see for my design. But Nashville is constantly getting more well-rounded, so it's exciting to watch!

Who is your number one fashion icon?

As far as designers/brands go, my major icons are Prada, Miu Miu, Stella McCartney, and Marni. They will always, always be my number ones. I also recently have become obsessed with Molly Goddard. Her take on pretty party dresses is pretty insane. If I had to choose a muse to wear my clothes, it would be Elle Fanning or Linda Rodin.

What has been a collaboration you’ve really enjoyed?

I'm always blown away by my shoots with Brett Warren. He has most certainly helped shape my brand. Our Fall 2015 campaign together was definitely one for the books. Brett created a whimsical plastic world for my cushy clothes to exist in. Also, within that shoot, was my collection which was a collaboration with Allison Volek-Shelton of TN Textile Mill. She painstakingly wove yards upon yards of waffle weave for most of my collection. Those garments would not have been what they were if it weren't for her incredible textiles. Collaboration exists for reasons like this! So much of the time, others are able to flesh out your vision in ways you never imagined. It's incredible!

 Ona Rex design with fabric by Allison Volek-Shelton, photo by Brett Warren

Ona Rex design with fabric by Allison Volek-Shelton, photo by Brett Warren

What is a goal you have for your business?

I want to continue a steady growth -- I want people outside of Nashville to experience Ona Rex. I also want to always hold on to the whimsical nature of where it started. I love using my imagination to create stories within my garments. I truly hope I never lose that aspect of what I do. I think it gives each piece character that then empowers its wearer.

What’s the hardest part about being a fashion designer?

It's hard to always be tempted to be keeping up with what others are creating. With social media, it's a little too easy to peek into others processes. Sometimes it just brings on unnecessary pressure. I think we all struggle with seeing others experiences through rose-colored glasses. But also, running a business simply in itself is tough. You work all day and all night. You have no life. It can be isolating at times. But that's why it's so important to keep our little community together. We have to experience things and know that someone else is right there with us.

Are seasons important to you as a designer?

YES. And no... Recently there has been so much hoopla about brands going seasonless. For the most part, it makes me sad. I love the cycles and the fast paced tradition of what we do as designers and taste makers. It's a little irrational at times, but it's my form of adrenaline. I love designing for the individual seasons and knowing that I can get really experimental and tack onto a trend, but that in a few months everyone will be ready for something completely different. It keeps you on your toes. I do understand the concept of having seasonless brands, however. I see the value in having a more consistent wardrobe. I think it just depends on what lifestyle you lead and what you are looking for. BUT, I will always be enchanted by the revolving door of fashion...

What three words describe your style?

Colorful, fresh, and curious


Why is it important to buy local?
I think we can all recognize the importance of supporting our communities. Nashville is a special place and the more we feed into our local economy, the more we will be able to accomplish for this city. Never a bad thing!

See Ashley's designs and her collaboration with photographer Zachary Gray at the next Fashion Happening on October 15. Get your ticket here.

Q&A with Artistic Director Sadie Monroe

What made you want to work in the art/design world?
 
Although a sports enthusiast, I discovered my interest in fashion and business in high school by working for several retail companies. An eager, kinesthetic learner, I worked my way into design to get to the root of the industry and understand the details and process involved in every step. I started by managing a boutique, becoming the assistant buyer, proceeded to work in wholesale apparel and then as a stylist while attending college for Fashion Design and Fashion Business at Columbia College Chicago. As I began taking art and design classes, I quickly fell in love with the visual and tactile experiences offered to me through the mediums and have been wrapped up in it ever since.    
 
What are your current design influences?
 
I'm always noticing movement, texture, positive and negative space, repetition, and interesting silhouettes which can be found in anything. Constantly impressed by designers who can turn the abstract into wearable/functional pieces, I look to designers like Issey Miyake, Iris Van Herpen, and Hussein Chalayan. I also love collaborative work so designer and athletic company mashups always peak my interest for their use of innovative fabrics, functional details, and textile manipulation. Most recently, I stumbled upon a brilliantly fun collection using nontraditional materials by Valeska Jasso Callado.
 
Name four key words that describe your personal design aesthetic
 
Abstract, Sculptural, and Playful yet Refined
 
What is it like to be a creative in Nashville?
 
It's interesting because things are growing and advancing in the arts here, but nothing is set in stone yet. There isn't a huge fashion design industry in place. You have to be your own resource and figure out things for yourself to create a unique path that fits you.  You become a walking toolbox working with a few other pioneers in the area to pave the way for an industry to prevail.

www.sadie-monroe.com

Monroe's Dystopia collection

Featured Designer - Ceri Hoover

 Designer Ceri Hoover

Designer Ceri Hoover

What made you want to start Ceri Hoover Bags? 

It really was a happy accident. I love designing beautiful things and had been drawn to textiles and fabrics, and since I was into interior design at the time, I loved designing pillows. One day, I had made a cowhide pillow and realized it made a great clutch. I started carrying it around and then I was hooked. Before long I had half a dozen designs and was rearranging my future.

What are your current design influences? 

That's almost impossible to say. I am inspired by everything and everyone I experience. There a a number of designers that I love- many here in town-  and I'm inspired by their creativity and their spark.

Name four key words that describe your aesthetic.

Simplicity, timelessness, complementary, and artfulness

Alys collection bag

Is there one design that you're particularly proud of? That says what you're all about?

Maybe it's because it is my newest, but I think I am most proud of the Alys collection it has almost no hardware, has this beautiful shape and texture, and is completely new. It is both practical and edgy. I just love it.

What is it like to be a Creative in Nashville?

It just feels like we are all in the middle of something great. Maybe not San Francisco in the late sixties or Seattle in the 90's, but similar. Like we have all found this well of inspiration in a city that is transforming right in front of us. It's really neat.  

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