Posted on 06 April 2011.
By Pablo Breton | Facebook | Twitter
IFDaily: I don’t know a whole lot about hip-hop culture, but I’m from New Orleans, which is a huge R & B town.
I grew up listening to stuff like Parliament (Mothership Connection) and Funkadelic (One Nation Under a Groove), Curtis Mayfield (Super Fly) and Sly & The Family Stone (Fresh), etc. etc. Except for The Beatles, this was basically the stuff I considered “music” growing up. And with all of that stuff comes a very strong sense of visual style, as well. (I even remember watching Soul Train every Sunday. You really saw some great clothes on there.)
A lot of the clothes on Soul Train for example were so intense with colors, cuts and materials; completely unapologetic about saying “here I am.” I love that so much.
Anyway, my impressions may have nothing to do with where you were coming from. Obviously funk is ’70s and hip-hop is ’80s – ’90s.
Can you tell me a little more about your influences; materials. Where do you get your inspiration?
KM: Being a ’70s baby I grew up listening to the same music as you plus I loved the blues, jazz, soul/R&B and funk as well! Soul Train was a must-watch in my household! The outfits those kids wore were so creative and fly, you have to realize that
those teens who danced on Soul Train were from the streets, this was really who they were!
It wasn’t a gimmick, there were no choreographers, no wardrobe stylists, they were REAL and that’s what I believe was so appealing back then, there was no limit to their creative expressions and I LOVED it!! Also, being from the Midwest, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is approx 2 hrs north of Chicago, in my community and household dressing to the nines was about making a statement and status. Looking back, fashion and style became important to me in elementary school. If I didn’t feel comfortable in my clothes on any particular day, my entire day was ruined, LOL. In the early 80′s MTV hit the scenes with all the pop music videos which heavily influenced my sense of style and then
in the late ’80s, Yo MTV Raps aired and female rappers that I could totally relate to hit the scene and I wanted to look like Salt & Pepa, Mc Lyte and the Real Roxanne.
IFDaily: Your first line was skirts made from deconstructed denim jeans, and silk screened t-shirts of musicians (from Hendrix to the Beatles). How did you get started deconstructing garments and sewing? Were you always interested in fashion, or did it come from a love of music?
KM: One of my best friends introduced me and the other members of our crew to tearing apart jeans, and at this time I was already altering t-shirts and embellishing anything I could get my hands on with rhinestones. So eventually I continued to experiment on my own with these deconstructed garments. Using my old concert t-shirts as part of my design process just made sense to me! So this is how I created my 1st collection of deconstructed denim skirts, Kristi Moon Originals. I was limited on cash, so I shopped at resale shops to find more materials to add in creating my deconstructed denim skirts. I ripped apart bright colored suede skirts, used leather jacket, leather pants, etc. My love for fashion honestly came from my parents, my community and my peers.
IFDaily: Tell me more about the eco-consciousness of the brand. And what inspired you to “go eco”?
KM: It was natural for me to become an eco friendly designer once my lifestyle and health became important to me in my late 20s. At this time I started being more conscious of what I put into my body; I worked out 5 days a week and started eating organic foods, soy products and cut most meats from my daily diet. Once I discovered organic cotton knit fabric, I started researching how the textile industry was impacting the environment and made a conscious choice to do my part as a designer by reducing my carbon footprint.
IFDaily: There’s an almost futuristic element to some of your garments. The robes I saw in a couple of combinations at Project Ethos‘ Carpe Diem show almost reminded me of Luke Skywalker’s robe; or maybe it’s more of a Japanese kimono look. But the fedora reminds me of old Hollywood, sort of a Fred Astaire vibe. Anyway, these are such inventive, killer combinations. What other influences combine to make the Kristi Moon “look”?
KM: Both of my parents were really into clothes and appearances. I remember my Dad’s double-breasted, wool, camel colored trench coats, spectator shoes or Stacy Adams. My mom and my Aunt were glamorous! Wide lapel leather coats, flowing dresses, full circle skirts and London Fog coats were worn frequently. They would dress up and practice dances before going out to party at the local discos. My love for outerwear and coats came from growing up in Wisconsin; this was a necessity, since the temperature drops below zero in the winter months.
My mom shopped for me all the time! She said it was easy to find the cutest trends in my size, since I have always been “tall & skinny.” Often, I would wake up with complete outfits laid out on my bed. My favorite fits that I can remember that I wore in jr. high school were an Esprit plaid, pleated ruffle mini shirt, a white buttoned-down collar shirt and an argyle sweater vest. Then there was my four-piece leopard printed, brushed fleece ensemble, which consisted of a long sleeved crew neck sweatshirt, stirrups, a long pencil skirt and a blazer, LOL. My shoes became important as well, since my mother would only allow me and my sisters to wear leather shoes and boots; she always said that quality was the most important thing.
I like to design structured, tailored garments, with specific silhouettes in mind, plus I have an obsession with pockets! So I challenged myself to design a trench coat made from knit fabric which I call the “Marsha” named after my mom. In my current collection, the look worn with the fedora hat, I used bamboo fleece to design this coat and bamboo velour for some of my other pieces, which includes British military-style jackets for my “Luxury Suit” tracksuits and a feminine version of a men’s “smoker’s jacket”. The fuchsia pink jacket which I call “Kel” was made from raw silk and for the denim version the fabric that I used was hemp denim. This jacket was definitely inspired by Japanese girls that were influenced by urban American culture.
I started sketching my Fall 2011 collection in 2007 and I was also inspired by the movie Mahogany which stars Diana Ross as fashion design student, who lived in Chicago in the late ’70s. Her character was classy and there was a simplicity in the way she designed the costumes. It always bothered me that I could never really relate and see myself wearing urban apparel. To me the styles were overly embellished and somewhat gaudy for my taste, so I started designing pieces that I wanted in my wardrobe that would appeal to my generation and not just my community. I like to call myself the Urban Minimalist, since my design style is definitely inspired from the streets in which I grew up, yet my pieces are a toned down version to suit active women, with busy lives, that take pride in their appearances and want to look great, feel great and take pride in what practices and fibers are used in making the clothes that they wear.
Since I only use sustainable textiles, there are more knits available then woven fabric, so I use what I can, to make my sketches come to life, when creating my vision.
IFDaily: You pioneered the first fashion-related program for Woodcraft Rangers, a non-profit youth development program. How did that come about? What was it like? Why was it important?
KM: I had a family member that was the event coordinator at Woodcraft Rangers and we brainstormed to find a way for me to get involved with the non-profit organization. So we came up with the idea, she pitched it to the director, we met and they loved the idea. I was so anxious to get involved with inner city youth, so they created a job for me, as a Fashion Traveling Specialist. My job was to teach after school, fashion related workshops, to elementary and junior high students to expose them to the various creative job opportunities that exist in the fashion industry. It was so fulfilling and my students were willing and ready to learn.
IFDaily: “Age of Aquarius” generally refers to the idea of a new world: generally a better world. Why did you decide to call the new line “Age of Aquarius?” Is this a reference to the idea of a new eco-consciousness, growing social consciousness, the freedom of the hippie movement, some of these, or none?
KM: Yes, the fact that it was foretold by astrologers that human consciousness will shift and we will evolve in the Age of Aquarius definitely impacted my decision in naming my line Age Of Aquarius Apparel, plus my sun sign is Aquarius, so it just worked.
IFDaily: Anything else you’d like to tell us? Any fun personal plans (for example, travel), or upcoming events or brand news?
KM: Well, now that I have officially launched my 1st collection at Project Ethos in LAFW and have received a lot of positive feedback about my collection and my design skills, at this point my goal is to have AOA Apparel in high-end speciality boutiques this fall in all the major cities. I am focused building my brand and designing my next collection for Spring 2011, which I would like to show at New York Fashion Week. I have also decided to relocate to NYC this summer and continue to pursue my dreams as a fashion designer there. You know the saying “if you can make it New York, you can make it anywhere,” so my journey continues.
One more thing: The utility belt with pouches worn with the bilberry (dark teal) velour Luxury Suit is one of my designs, as well. I found a manufacturer who makes Eco Leather, so in the near future I am planning to introduce a line of accessories to Age Of Aquarius Apparel!
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