By Robyn Lua
Fashion is a continuously growing and thriving industry around the world. Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York have been known as the fashion capitals of the United States, bringing much popularity and recognition to the east and west coasts.
In the recent past, however, someone recognize the talent and creativity of thriving designers and fashion-lovers in the South and decided it was time to share them with the world. Thus, Southern Design Week (formerly known as New Orleans Fashion Week) was created. This season’s shows will take place November 3-9.
Leonela Guzman, communications director of SDW, was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule and do a little Q&A with us about creator Andi Eaton and Southern Design Week itself.
DIG: How did Southern Design Week get started? Why did the name switch from New Orleans Fashion Week to Southern Design Week?
Leonela Guzman: Andi Eaton, former NOLA Fashion Council partner, has launched the Southern Coalition of Fashion & Design as her own company and brand. Eaton’s NOLAFW events held a focus on independent designers, and that won’t change. However, the company’s intention is to primarily focus on the designer, the process of garment creation, and to build a network of resources around the design community. In lieu of other Fashion Weeks emerging around the Southern states, and with New Orleans and other Louisiana cities having multiple events branded as “Fashion Week,” Eaton seeks to make this event distinct. SCFD and Southern Design Week will instead stand in contrast to the fashion weeks of recent years which tend to emphasize retail and the surrounding party atmosphere as key components. The end goal of SCFD is to support Southern makers and the design community in growing sustainable roots.
DIG: When (during the year) are the fashion shows?
LG: As is typical in the industry, shows happen twice a year months in advance of the season to allow both press and buyers a chance to preview fashion designs for the following season. Between February and April designers showcase fall and winter collections; spring and summer shows are held between September and November.
DIG: How do designers apply to have a show in SDW? Who decides who is featured and who isn’t?
LG: The application process includes a review of past work, photos and sketches and sometimes one on one meetings to take a look at the collection as it’s in process. Designers that are already in stores or at a level in which they’re producing their collections are typically approved based on that, however, designers working to get their brand off the ground are as important. Andi reviews their plans and, when necessary, places them with the appropriate resources so that they can be approved.
DIG: How are the models sourced and selected?
LG: Leading up to the shows, the team hosts several months of castings. Erica Johnson, who’s been the lead model coordinator since the early days of NOLAFW, works directly with the models to coach them and prepare them for final casting. At the final casting, the designers determine who they’d like to cast for their shows.”
DIG: Which designers are being featured this season?
LG: Thomas Kitchen, Bonnie Campbell, Krystal Frame, Aza Ziegler, Courtney Marse, Hi Lo, Anthony Ryan, Andi Eaton, Matthew Arthur, Noel Martin, Amber Perley, Reneka Thomas, and Annie Etzel!
DIG: What events are taking place during SDW?
LG: We’re excited to partner with the American Heart Association Wednesday, November 5th, as the official Go Red for Women Day to take a stand against heart disease in women. We’re also please to introduce Little Flea NOLA, founded by Rebecca Minkoff denim designer Tippi Clark, as a new addition to the city a-la-Brooklyn flea market. Little Flea NOLA holds their grand opening Saturday after the first in a series of Hotel Modern sponsored trunk shows featuring local designers throughout Saturdays in November and December. There’s plenty going on for any and all to join in at Southern Design Week.
DIG: What are you plans for the growth and success of SDW?
LG: Southern Design Week is the first in a line of various opportunities to become a member of the Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design. New Orleans is thriving as the fashion capitol of the South, and with the rise of an active and engaged community, it will only continue to develop into a well-established mecca of innovation. SCFD hopes to provide the next step in solidifying a collaborative network among creatives, and an SCFD member would directly contribute to the development and proliferation of creativity across the Southern landscape. Memberships are now available, with special pricing for all students, on the SCFD Tumblr page (SCFD-NewOrleans.tumblr.com), on the main site (SouthernDesignWeek.com(, as well as our official Facebook page, Facebook.com/SCFD.NOLA.