Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Night Circus: A Look Inside Kelly Lynne's Past, Present and Future

Music was my first love. As soon as I understood what it was, I was hooked. My first show, my first tape (yes, tape), my crush on Billy Joe from Green day (which I still have). I can remember it all like it was yesterday. But much like I can remember the music, bands, bars, and boys, I also vividly remember what I was wearing. If music was my first love, then fashion was my second.

Now that I am all grown up (sorta) I can understand why. These two things are woven together in a constant loop of one inspiring the other, and vise versa.

For this reason, Hip in Detroit is going to start featuring some of our favorite local designers who are carving out a new name in the fashion world for our sweet City of Detroit.

Our first feature will be on a local designer who hit the scene a few years ago and instantly made a name for herself. This march she will be hosting her third fashion show and we were able to sit down with her to learn more about who she is and what she does.

I first met designer Kelly Lynne when she decided that she was going to move to New York City for at least two years and pursue a career in fashion. The interesting part about this decision is that Kelly was closer to 30 then 20 and had already started a career in a different field. She made a life change and decided to follow her dreams and never looked back. This kind of crazy decision inspires the hell out of me and once again reassures the fact that we can do anything we put our minds to.

Her last two collections were amazing and she blew everyone out of the water last year when she won first prize at Art Van's Fashion event. She even beat out some highly publicized Project Runway alumni by simply getting the most votes and presenting the looks that people were most attracted to. I had the privilege of helping dress the girls backstage during her first show, and was able to see first hand the detail and high quality of craftsmanship that Kelly Lynn's designs have. I also got a one-of-a-kind hat from her second line that I constantly get compliments for wearing. I love me some faux fur. Especially in the shape of cute little ears!

Her next collection promises to be just as inspiring and beautiful. She will also be featuring her art work alongside her clothing for the first time. She says: “The collection is inspired by the book The Night Circus. It's a very dramatic collection that features six coats, dresses, skirts and tops. I am in the middle of planning the show, but I am trying to do a fashion/art collaboration show this year, where I will feature not only the garments on models but will also be showing the illustrations behind the collection- which is a big deal for me because I'm pretty shy normally about showing my sketches, but I wanted to push myself artistically and do more painting and put that side of the art out there. I am looking for other artists and designers to participate in my show, but I'm being pretty selective because I'm looking for a certain aesthetic. Anyone interested in being in the show can submit their portfolio/photos/info to me at”

I was able to ask her a little more about herself, her clothes, and her future. Here is what she had to say:

HipInDetroit- I know that you went to fashion school later in your 20's, what inspired you to make such a big move and go to NYC to learn? Did you sew before then, or was it all new?

Kelly Lynne-
I did sew before then, but it was just a hobby. I made my own clothes a lot- just like basic dresses and skirts, because I had a really hard time finding things I liked in stores. What made me finally decide to do it? I became really unhappy in the 40-hour-a-week desk job. I'd been working in advertising for about 5 years, and I felt like a caged animal. I've always been creative and knew I'd be miserable forever if I didn't pursue something creative. I started by talking to the few people I knew in the area who were doing fashion design and asked them if they liked the schools they went to. Both people said pretty much the same thing to me- which was if I really wanted to have a serious career in fashion, that I should go to school in New York. So 'just for fun,' I decided to apply to both FIT and Parsons. I thought that if I didn't get in, it wasn't meant to be. I honestly and truly didn't think I had a chance at getting in. When I got letters of acceptance from both schools, I just knew there was no way I could not do it. If I had gotten into those schools and didn't go, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. So I took a tour of both schools, and decided FIT was the school for me. Best decision of my life. Those two years at school were some of the best times I've had- and all I did was was school. School was my life. I wish I could do it all over again. That's how I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.

What’s your favorite fabric to work with? Where do you get fabric? Are there places in the Metro Detroit area to get fabric or do you order or travel to get it?

Kelly Lynne- I guess my favorite fabrics would be anything with structure. I'm really not a draping, flowy, thin fabric type of designer. I prefer leather, thick brocades, stuff with real texture so I can create
dramatic silhouettes. I buy fabric at different places depending on what I need. If it's something hard to find, I shop online at Mood, since I can't really just fly to NYC to get fabric all the time (I wish!). I also shop at Haberman in Royal Oak, and for very basic stuff like wool or cotton, sometimes I can find what I need at JoAnne's. I wish we had more fabric stores in Michigan, though. It's one thing that is really lacking. Most of the leather I use, I either get in New York when I go, or I use recycled stuff. People know I use it, so I get old leather jackets, furniture - really anything made of leather - donated to me. And I cut it up, and make stuff out of it.

Do you come up with a theme before you make clothes, or do the clothes inspire a theme?

Kelly Lynne- It depends on what I'm making clothes for. Sometimes people come to me with a custom idea and from that the clothes inspire the theme, but when I do my full collections each year, I always start with an inspiration. The first collection I did was inspired by the City of Detroit - the weird contrast of rust and decay and broken buildings, mixed with green grass and trees growing up through buildings. The second collection was inspired by the idea of the death of childhood - so I took inspiration from movies and books with that theme - A Midsummer Night's Dream, Where The Wild Things Are, Black Swan, and The Virgin Suicides - so everything was light and free and childlike, but with a dark undertone.

HipInDetroit- What is different about the Detroit fashion scene and the NYC scene?

Kelly Lynne-
The NYC fashion scene is very fast, very fleeting, and very competitive. I had a few job offers before I left to work for other designers, but I knew where it was heading. In New York, generally you work for someone else as an intern for years, then maybe you get promoted to assistant designer or something if you're lucky, but the thing is, it just takes a long time to get established there. Since I went back to school when I was 27 - not 18 - I knew I didn't want to wait. I wanted to do what I wanted now, and that's why moving back to Detroit was so amazing. Less than a year after I moved back here, I had my first full line, and my own runway show. I'm not sure it would be so easy to do that anywhere else.

How do you find models?

Kelly Lynne-
I have worked with some local modeling agencies in the past, but at this point it's just networking. Fortunately the Detroit fashion community is pretty small, so word of mouth works. There are a lot of talented, amazing models in Detroit!

Your photo shoots are amazing! Who styles and shoots them?

Kelly Lynne-
I have worked with a lot of different photographers over the years. My past two lookbooks have been done by Michelle Matiyow, of LM studios. I love working with her, because she really understands my brand aesthetic and we just work really well together. And she's incredibly talented. Rebecca Voigt has been my stylist for both lookbooks - she's also extremely talented and none of those shoots would have turned out the way they did without her amazing eye for detail. I am so lucky to have such a solid team of people who love what they do. Doing the lookbook is one of my favorite parts of launching a line, mostly because I get to work with Rebecca and Michelle and come up with something I know will be perfect.

What was it like winning the Art Van fashion show over former project runway winners? Tell us about that experience.

Kelly Lynne-
I was really shocked that I won, and excited. I owe the credit to the three amazing models I had that day- Erin Bahr, Kelly Jean Passage and Johnnell LaFrienere. They really worked the clothes and engaged the audience, and just turned the clothes into living, breathing things. It was wonderful. I mean, it's just exciting to me when people are interested in what I do, and receptive to my sometimes odd point of view- it's always nice to be recognized for that.

Where do you create? Do you have a space? A process?

Kelly Lynne-
I have a studio in my basement right now- it has tons of shelves, 5 sewing machines, dress forms - all the stuff I need. Ideally, one day, my dream is to have my own studio outside of my home, that can be a show room, a work room, and a store front. I've been working hard towards this for
awhile, and it's the ultimate goal.

HipInDetroit- Before we finish, tell me a little more about the book that inspired you, it sounds interesting.

Kelly Lynne- My new collection was inspired by the book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I've always been a lover of the creepy, weird and macabre; and when I read this book, I thought - how cool
would it be to use just a book as inspiration? Because using a book, what you see and are inspired by, is created by your own thoughts and imagination, and the way you interpret someone else's words. The book is about a traveling circus that only appears at night. It's also a very beautiful love story. It's set a long, long time ago, and all of the descriptions are just beautiful. The clothing is lush and dramatic.
Everything in the circus - the tents, performers, costumes. And everything is black, white, gray, and red - so this is the palate I'm sticking to.

HipInDetroit- Will the clothes be available for purchase after the show?

Kelly Lynne-

HipInDetroit- Will this be the first time sharing your drawn art? How did u learn to draw?

Kelly Lynne- I always drew for fun but was never very good at it. I have always loved painting, specifically. I learned to draw fashion art at school. Fashion art was 50% of the curriculum and technical fashion design was the other 50%. It's something I really love, but always felt like I wasn't good enough to really put it out there. I've been spending a lot of time in the past year working on my technique, so I feel a little bit more daring about showing it to people. I'm working on watercolor paintings of every garment in the new collection to show at the March launch. It has been so much fun adding this element to my work.

What is in the future for Kelly Lynne? Where do you want to see your brand in the future?

Kelly Lynne- I'd love to do more costume design for film- I'm actually working on an independent film right now with Lion Belly Productions, which is based in Ypsilanti. We are doing a short 15 minute fashion horror film, which I am co-writing and designing all of the costumes for. One day my goal is to have my own store front- I'd love my own shop where I could sell my own line, along with other local artists and designers.

HipInDetroit- What would you say to someone who wants to get started in fashion?

Kelly Lynne- The first thing I say is to make sure you love it, and are ready to work for it. It's really hard work and you need to sacrifice things sometimes in order to make it happen. But if you really believe in yourself and you really want it, you'll do it.

Check out photos below for a preview of the new collection:

Check out Kelly's blog for more details!


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