One year ago, on the runway for New Orleans Fashion Week (NOLAFW), a flurry of fur rushed through a crowd of fashion-fanatics.
Donning a bright smile and long lavender hair, Noël Martin won over her audience with a first collection that included eye-catching designs, dramatic cuts and luxurious furs, ranking her a must-watch on the list of up-and-coming southern designers.
Today, Martin has short, pink hair and is debuting a completely new look for her third season with NOLAFW.
Martin’s new collection takes inspiration from a myriad of things: ’70s fashion icons, the Studio 54 party scene and her own personal desire for easy, wearable and fashionable clothing, she explained.
“I try not to limit myself, so the collection really is an amalgamation of several inspirations,” Martin said. “As always, cohesion plays a big part in my design choices.”
Martin is a 22-year-old Parsons graduate from Covington, Louisiana. Her interest in fashion started with repairing broken garments, shoes and accessories in grammar school.
Because of her Louisiana roots, showing her collections in New Orleans was a no-brainer.
“I love being able to come home and celebrate an amazing thing and share my work with so many positive, inspirational, supportive people,” she said.
Martin also believes in the potential of the fashion industry in New Orleans.
“I love this city and I believe it’s on the rise,” she said. “Self-expression thrives in New Orleans and that’s the root of fashion for art verses fashion for purpose.”
But before NOLAFW and before Parsons, Martin did not see a future for herself in fashion.
“I didn’t actually believe I could be a designer until my good friend Bucky Warner gave me the push I needed to apply myself,” Martin said.
Warner, knowing Martin’s insecurity in her drawing abilities, gifted her a fashion illustration book, giving her the tool to develop a fashion portfolio in order to apply for Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
“I taught myself to fashion sketch, applied to SCAD and went on a whim,” she said. “That book changed everything, really.”
After two years at SCAD, Martin decided to kick start her career by transferring to Parsons, the New School for Fashion, located in New York.
“Once I started feeling stagnant in Savannah, I knew it was time to leave,” Martin said. “I knew that I needed to submerge myself in the lifestyle and get as close as I could to the center of the fashion industry.”
Luckily, Martin developed a clear goal and executed immediately.
“I knew from the beginning I wanted to be an independent designer and my end goal is to own an internationally recognized fashion label,” she said. “New York gives me the freedom and resources I need to properly execute ideas.”
Amidst the hustle and bustle of New York, Martin feels the pressure of being a young designer in such an aggressive field as fashion.
“In a field this competitive and pressing, you really need to be your own support system and you need to learn to immediately problem solve at the drop of a pin—pun intended,” Martin explains.
After all, being a designer is not easy.
“I think staying positive and driven is the hardest part,” Martin adds. “Letting your obstacles stifle your design process is a set back and a missed learning opportunity.”
Though pressing, Martin still gets excited during research and sketching designs, and she has become slightly addicted to the collection process, she said.
“By the time I am draping and patterning I am basically frothing at the mouth to see the finished product,” she said.
Martin’s finished product is used primarily to make a statement and secondly to sell clothes, she said.
“I am always trying to evoke some sort of emotion in the viewers with a runway show or a presentation,” she said.
This collection will be a bit different than her last collections, with pieces more applicable to any young modern women’s everyday wardrobe. The pieces can be worn separately, missed and matched and dressed up or down.
“That adaptability was a goal,” she said. “This collection is still very me but I think it’s much more obtainable.”
The Noël Martin Pre-Fall Collection will be held at The Hotel Modern today at 8:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fw14-noel-martin-and-hazel-florange-night-pass-tickets-10900380331.