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Want to see your designs on the runway at NY / LA Fashion Week?

Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion is in its 10th year, and looking for design talent now for fall LA Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.

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Interview with Kristi Moon, Age of Aquarius

By Pablo Breton | Facebook | Twitter
Editor, IndieFashionDaily

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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?

KMOne 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 EthosCarpe 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!

IFDaily: Thanks!

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Age of Aquarius | Web | Facebook | Twitter

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Interview with Jonny Cota, Skingraft

By Pablo AvionFacebookTwitter
Editor, IndieFashionDaily

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IFDaily: First of all, I love you guys’ designs. “Retro future” is the term that springs to mind for some of it. Please tell me about this picture.

I can’t get enough of this wide-brimmed 1940s-style hat in fuzzy, futuristic material and synthetic emu-type … what is that? A collar? Shoulder ornament?
 What is this, what’s the material, where could I buy it (if I was a woman … or a more-daring man). How much does it cost? What’s the name of the collection?

JC: This photo is from our recent presentation at LA Fashion Week. The collection was sort of inspired by the grace of death and dying and the idea that when we die we can live forever in whatever vision we make of ourselves. My vision for these models was to create them as they dark spirits from some other planet and time. The head piece was made by my good friend and longtime collaborator Rick Gradone. He used human and synthetic hair that he painstakingly coated in layers of latex to create something otherworldly and in my opinion incredibly unique and fashion forward. The head piece is complimenting the Skingraft jacket with giant exaggerated shoulders covered in goat and human hair.

IFDaily: Okay now on to picture 2.

Photo: Apparel News

To  me this is like Gone With the Wind meets Star Wars. It’s odd for me to be gushing like this about women’s fashions, simply because I usually reserve my intense spasticity for men’s stuff I probably can’t afford. What’s this called? What’s the inspiration / story behind this look?

JC: Though Skingraft primarily focuses on designing ready-to-wear collections, we have always invested a lot of time into making one-of-a-kind ornate garments like the one in this photo. This was the finale piece for our spring 2011. The entire show was inspired by African folklore and the concept of ancestry. The oversized hood and armored hips and shoulders was my take on an African warrior-type but coupled with the flowing silk skirt I believe the look became much softer and feminine while still maintaining its power.

IFDaily: It’s hard for me to see your designs without thinking of Philip K. Dick (who wrote the book that became Bladerunner, among many other surreal science fiction classics, for anyone unfamiliar). Or hear a song by Daft Punk. Where do you get your inspiration? Do movies, music or books play a part?

JC: I pull my inspiration from everywhere but there are definitely some iconic movies from the past that have burned lasting images in my memory such as Dune, Bladerunner, Mad Max, and Fifth Element. Ideas of future, apocolypse, and re-imagining how we dress and relate to a different world are always reoccurring in the Skingraft aesthetic. Also music is a huge inspiration to me. I have always been very active and social in nightlife settings so everything from electronic music to punk rock has had a deep impact on the way I imagine Skingraft.

IFDaily: You’ve done quite well in the celebrity arena (understandably, given the theatricality of your garments). (Yes, “theatricality” is a word: I just looked it up and I’m surprised myself.) More recently I see you have Britney Spears, for example, wearing a Skingraft graffiti jacket and shorts in the “Hold it Against Me Video.” How did that come about? Do you ever design looks for celebrities by request, or do they get wind of your looks, somehow?

JC: Being based in Los Angeles has granted us many great opportunities to work closely with celebrities and interesting projects. For the Britney video, we were asked to especially design pieces for Britney that would help recreate her image to fit with the future aesthetic of the video. Bea Akerlund was the stylist for that video and she had worked with us through the Black Eyed Peas and other musicians, so she came to us directly because she felt that we would be good candidates to create a rock-n-roll futuristic look for Britney.

IFDaily: Adam Lambert came to the show at CONCEPT LA during LA Fashion Week, and apparently has been a Skingraft fan / friend going on a couple of years, at least. How did that come about?

Photo: mjsbigblog.com

JC: Adam was actually one of the first new friends I made when I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago. We met in the kinda freaky club scene in LA and have known each other for years. It has been such a great experience to watch him explode into worldwide fame because he is damn talented. It is also convenient and lucky that our aesthetics are very similar so he has come to us for a number of custom pieces during his time on American Idol and then later on his national tour.

IFDaily: Skingraft is both Jonny Cota (designer) and Chris Cota (brand manager). Does Chris ever share design thoughts, and do you ever get involved in marketing the brand? Or are you happy keeping duties separate?

JC: We both crossover a lot. I am very very specific about how I want the brand to by presented and perceived in the public so I contribute a lot to the “voice” of Skingraft and Chris helps maintain that voice and grow the brand. I design the collection but I love having Chris’ opinion on all the designs because he comes from a more marketable and mainstream point of view and he will ask me important questions like “do we really need to produce perforated leather pants that show everything? I mean, is anyone going to buy this.” He brings me back to earth a lot and I think together we really make a great team.

IFDaily: Anything else you’d like to tell us? For example, any fun personal trips coming up, events or other news related to the brand?

JC: We have some really exciting things coming up for the brand this year that I can’t really talk about yet but it involves everything from more celebrity projects to designing a lower priced sub-label. Definitely keep an ear out because we will be making some big announcements this summer.

IFDaily: Thanks, can’t wait!

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Skingraft | Web | Facebook | Twitter

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Gypsy ’05’s Ethereal Bohemia Hits the Runway

Gypsy ’05 Unveils the Fall 2011 Men’s and Women’s Collection in a Transcendent Fashion Show

Los Angeles, CA (March 16, 2011) – Debuting the fall 2011 men’s and women’s collections, Gypsy ’05 conducted a dazzling display of earthy, bohemian style with their first ever fashion show.  The Gypsy ’05 fashion show, held at the historic Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles, was a main attraction of “Style Fashion Week”, one of the most highly acclaimed event showcases of LA Fashion Week.

The star-studded event attracted over 900 guests including celebrities, stylists, members of the media, national and international buyers, and select tastemakers.  The front row was lined with famous faces like Haylie Duff, Beverley Mitchell, Virginia Williams, Taylor Spreitler, Alexa Vega, Jayson Blair, Vanessa Lengies, Ben Hollinsworth, Kristy Wu, and Amber Lancaster.

The show opened with a large projection illuminating the stage walls, taking its viewers through the seasons as the images changed and colors morphed.  As the animated leaves fell, the runway was transformed into an enchanted garden cueing the eco-inspired fashions.  Gypsy ’05 delivered everything from their famed diaphanous silk maxi dresses to unchartered territories of knit sweaters and even explored footwear this season.  Designer Osi Shoham intentionally created styles that convey a carefree romanticism while still remaining a “casual lifestyle collection.”  With a focus on pastels and earth tones in flowing styles, the color palette consisted of greens, blues, and purples, exuding a lightweight, natural feel.  Osi Shoham explained that airy, ethereal fashions are not solely for spring and that “people can look light and beautiful in fall as well.”

Gypsy ’05’s headquarters made a mark in the fashion world by going green in December 2009.  A true revolution for the garment industry, this is the first completely solar-powered dying, printing, and manufacturing facility in Los Angeles. “People feel very connected to our clothing, not only because it’s so easy to wear, but because of our efforts to protect the planet,” said Dotan.  “Gypsy ’05 is about a lifestyle, and our customers relate to the philosophy behind the brand in addition to loving the look of our clothes.”Gypsy ’05 was established in the spring of 2005 by a dynamic brother and sister duo, Osi and Dotan Shoham.  Based in Los Angeles, the contemporary line reflects the Southern California lifestyle, with a focus on effortless, comfortable clothing.  Using nature as the inspiration behind each collection, Gypsy ’05 is one of the fastest growing eco-friendly fashion lines on the market today.

Photo: BaokhanhPhotography

Today, Gypsy ’05 has established itself as a well sought after brand with representation in over 1,000 stores worldwide.  With a strong celebrity following, Gypsy ’05 has graced the pages of major publications both nationally and abroad. Since the creation of the brand, Osi and Dotan continue to push the envelope in creating a truly distinctive collection.

Photos and video of the fashion show are available here:

http://blog.gypsy05.com/post/2011/03/17/Gypsy-05-Fashion-Show-Pictures-and-Videos!.aspx

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Story today at LAFashionWeekOnline.

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