Designers in Your Back Yard

Minneapolis fashion is full of hidden treasures, from street styles to local designers to vintage stores.  It might not be as ubiquitous as in the fashion capitals of the world, but our humble city is home to some extremely talented designers, stunning runway shows, and all-around well dressed people.  The first in this sartorial chain is, of course, the designers.  They create the collections that are displayed on the runway and sell from retail spaces around the city, establishing a unique look for those who wear the final products.  I’d like to begin at the beginning and give a nod to a couple local designers with whom I have recently become acquainted. 

A recent visit to Cliché’s annual fashion show, Avoid the Grey, allowed me to become more intimately acquainted with a couple local designers: Niki English and Katie Sterner.  Their collections shown that night were representative of the two designers’ differing approaches to silhouette and the female body.  Both were equally intriguing perspectives on femininity, essentially asking the question: To what extent does the body shape our perception of the female, and is the body an essential source of power, play, or both?  

Niki English Designs and Handbags by Niki English is as daring and intense as it is feminine and sophisticated.  Far from a simple juxtaposition of female sexuality and traditional standards of women’s wear, Niki’s designs point to a fundamental notion of female bodily power and emphasis on mystique.  Her clothes are sexy without being slutty.  Hand crafted from both common and unique materials, her garments and accessories range from leather-studded handbags to evening gowns to tuxedo jackets.  Niki’s designs incorporate sleek silhouettes with a bit of 80’s flair, harking back to notions of high market obsequiousness in a refreshingly understated manner.   

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KathrynV by Katie Sterner brings a more fresh approach to its most recent collection.  Katie’s design philosophy asserts, “Each day we should dress ourselves with the understanding that tomorrow will be different and the appreciation that yesterday has brought us to where we are today.”  Such an attitude toward fashion results in clothing inspired by the free-spirited mindset of a woman dressing for the present—not based on what she wore in the past or what might feel good in the future.  Katie’s designs are playful, almost fantastical.  They bring a touch of spring to Minneapolis when we need it most. 

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Both of these designers play on one another, complimenting each other’s work through aesthetic differences and general design similarities.  On one hand, we have manipulation and accentuation of the female body’s lines and curves, creating a vision of clothing as a source of confidence and mystery.  On the other, there is a focus on femininity in the form of whimsy and casual clothing for a casual attitude.  Power, intensity, and purpose on one side; freedom, play, and spontaneity on the other.  In both iterations, the body remains the central focus.  Whichever side your personal style or inner female (bodily or otherwise) might favor, find their designs at Cliché Boutique.

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