So it's Wednesday again-- Women Who Rock Wednesday!-- the day when I spotlight the female artists (meaning anything from musician to writer to designer to basically any creative pursuit you can think of) that rock my world in hopes that they will rock yours, too. I've gotta say this is starting to make Wednesday my favorite day of the week. Today we are expanding the Women Who Rock horizons beyond the usual author or musician feature I do (those are just the main types of women I know, but I will expand horizons whenever possible) and featuring up-and-coming fashion designer Alyse Frank of DeCatoure Clothing! But before we meet Alyse, I have a few quick announcements...
First of all the winner of last week's WWRW giveaway, a signed copy of Rebecca Woolf's fantastic memoir Rockabye is Sally from blogger (http://daybyday-sally.blogspot.com/)! Sally, please send your mailing address to stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com so I can pass it on to Rebecca. I know lots of people were clamouring for this book, so I hope those who didn't win will head out to buy it because it is freakin' amazing.
Second, I've chosen the winners of my Tour Contest and emailed them. I'm asking for permission to share their pictures with you and will blog about that when I've heard from them. Thank you to everyone who entered. I had very tough decisions to make!
Third, I have a major, huge, big gig to announce... *Gulp* Click here and look in the top left hand corner under New Shows. You'll see a picture of Irvine Welsh and see that Irvine Welsh is doing an event at the Metro (a.k.a. one of my favorite rock venues in all of Chicago) called Read Against Recession on Sunday September 14th at 6 pm for free. Who is listed under Irvine Welsh and just above Bill Hillman? Stephanie Kuehnert, author of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Yeah. Me. I'm reading at Metro. Gracing the stage that practically every rock star I've ever admired has graced (frex, my favorite concert of all-time Hole, October 21, 1994 took place at Metro). Opening for Irvine freakin' Welsh, author of Trainspotting, one of my biggest heroes. The capacity at Metro is 1100 people. The last time Irvine Welsh did a free reading at Metro, it reached capacity. I think I might vomit right now. I might vomit on stage. I might faint. But hopefully I'll manage to do a decent reading. So you should come. And get there early because of that whole filling to capacity thing...
Okay, shaking that off.... On to our Woman Who Rocks, Alyse Frank, who is pictured here with some of her designs:
Q: Tell us a little bit about how your interest in fashion developed? Have you loved it since you were a little girl? Who inspires you as a fashion designer, ie. certain designers or stylish celebs?
Alyse: Let's see...When I started hand-sewing I was so young that I don't remember the first time I picked up a needle and thread. I remember getting into my Grandma's sewing box and her showing me little tricks, like how to knot something off, etc. My parents enrolled me in my first machine-sewing class when I was 6 or 7, because I had shown so much interest in it, and bought me my first sewing machine when I was 8. Throughout my elementary and middle school years, I took quilting classes, embroidery classes, and in high school more sewing classes, which for me at that time were sort of a joke, learning how to make pajama pants and other simple garments. Betsey Johnson is my biggest inspiration as a designer, the way she is alternative yet appeals to everyone, and has remained so consistent over so many years. Vintage and retro styles of past decades definitely play a huge part as well.
Q: When did you start designing your own clothes? Did you go to school for design or work in the fashion industry at all?
Alyse: I've been designing and remaking clothes as long as I can remember. I have an associate's degree in fashion design from FIDM (The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in Los Angeles. I graduated in March of 2007, and worked freelance as a patternmaker/samplemaker for a few months, then later got a job with clothing giant American Apparel as a patternmaker. I worked there for almost a year before moving to Denver.
Q: Tell us about DeCatoure. When did you start your own line and where did you get the name? What is your design focus right now and what kind of stuff would you like to get into in the future?
Alyse: I had always wanted to start my own independant, boutique clothing line. The problem with working and living in Los Angeles is that you have no time for yourself, you're always either sitting in traffic or working your ass off to pay for an overpriced apartment. One of the main reasons my fiance and I moved to Denver was so that I would have the freedom to do that, otherwise I would be a sellout giving away my skills to a huge corporation for a little rent money for the rest of my life. We moved here in April, and that's when it began. As for the name, I wanted to do some sort of play on my name, without it being boring. The dilemma was, I'm getting married in June, and my last name will be changing to the much more interesting DeCavallas, so I decided to go with that. It is a mix between my future last name and "couture", a word for European, high-end fashion. For now, I'd just like to keep doing what I'm doing, I love the shop I sell at. Eventually, when I have the funds to, I would love to open up my own boutique.
Q: What's your favorite piece that you've designed so far? Show us a pic if you can.
My favorite is the Cyndi Lauper remake I made actually out of one of my old shirts and this really cool metallic 80's dress. I'm obsessed with the 1980's, and that was actually the first one I sold, too.
Q: You are also in the band Doll Dumpster. Tell us a little bit about that. What connection do you see between fashion and rock 'n' roll?
Alyse: Yes, I play bass in Doll Dumpster, which is kind of a fusion of punk, rock and grunge. There is absolutely a huge connection between music and fashion, now more than ever, with all the music subcultures or "scenes". Most of the youth today want to be a part of a group associated with a music genre, such as emo, punk, grunge, metal, rockabilly, etc. Even punk, which I do believe is not a trend and will never go out of style because it never was in, has slowly evolved into a fashion statement. Even the trendy girls who want to wear what their favorite pop star does, it's all the same. People have always wanted to be a part of something, and currently it revolves around music.
Q: Now for the two standard questions I always ask my WWRs. I know you are as punk as they come and I partied like a rock star with you in Denver, but have you always been this cool or do you have any musical skeletons in your closet. Be honest, what was the first album you owned and the first concert you went to see (mine was the incredibly punk rock Janet Jackson)?
Alyse: Hmm...the first album is a tough one. As a little girl, I subscribed to one of those music scam things they used to send in the mail. My parents ended up paying for it, but I got like 9 CD's for "free", some of which were Hanson, the Spice Girls, the Grease soundtrack, the Wallflowers(which I still have), and No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom. My first concert was definitely the Spice Girls at the Los Angeles Forum.
Q: One day you will probably reach Gwen Stefani level fame (but even cooler) as musician/designer, but what was the moment in your life so far where you felt most like a rock star? Could be something you've accomplished. Could be a concert you attended. Could be meeting someone famous and having that "I'm Not Worthy!" Wayne's World moment? Could just be a time you felt you got the real rock star treatment.
Alyse: That's a tough one....whenever I sell something it's a great feeling, that someone likes it enough to buy it. And of course, when I play with Doll Dumpster and we get a good reaction there's no denying feeling like a rock star.
I've gotta say, I love Alyse's designs. A friend of mine had this custom dress made for me for my birthday:
As soon as I get some money saved I'm going to have her make some more cool dresses out of my old rock t-shirts. You can contact Alyse through her myspace page to do the same or check out her other custom designs there. You can also enter to win this amazing custom corset that Alyse made and generously donated as a prize for this week!
Definitely a fun piece to add to your back-to-school wardrobe and as usual to be entered all you have to do is leave a comment. Tell us about your favorite fashion designer or trend. Give me advice on how not to puke onstage at the Metro. Comment on whatever you want and I will draw the winner at random next Wednesday when the WWR Weds guest will be my current favorite band Civet whose album Hell Hath No Fury comes out on Tuesday September 9th!