Nashville opens its runways throughout the city April 5-9 for Nashville Fashion Week 2016. The line-up of locally, regionally and internationally located designers includes two designers who appeared on “Project Runway.”
Amanda Valentine, a Nashville favorite and “Project Runway” veteran of seasons 11 and 13, has made Nashville home for 10 years and has a studio in the thriving WeHo district, where she “styles wardrobe for numerous rock bands including Twenty One Pilots and infuses her women’s line with edge—and always ease.” In 2010, Valentine launched her ready-to-wear line of rock-‘n’-roll inspired women’s wear, and her success continues to gain momentum within the industry and in wardrobes everywhere.
“Sports & Entertainment Nashville” asked Valentine to talk about her work, the Nashville fashion scene and Nashville Fashion Week.
S&E: You’ve been active in Nashville Fashion Week since its inception. How have you seen Nashville evolve as a noteworthy place on the international fashion map?
Amanda Valentine: Nashville is one of those amazing creative communities that is actually collaborative and supportive. I was thrilled to show at the very first Fashion Week several years ago. Two of my models from that year are now all over New York, Paris and London fashion weeks; we know how to grow and develop talent! We [Nashville] did it for music: we set up banks, management companies, legal organizations, etc., just to take care of musician’s needs, and I think it’s becoming very clear that we can do the same for fashion. There are so many satellite industries that will benefit from the support of designers—models, agents, stylists, photographers — the list goes on and on. That’s why I’m so thrilled to serve on the board of the Nashville Fashion Alliance. We are focusing on advocacy, economic development, shared resources and education. It’s an exciting time.
S&E: What prompted your move to Nashville? Why did you choose Nashville to be the headquarters for Amanda Valentine Designs?
Amanda Valentine: When I moved here 10 years ago, I did not believe I was moving to any kind of fashion hub—I really chose Nashville for quality of life over anything. I came here from Los Angeles, but I was born and raised in Nebraska. L.A. was too big, Nebraska was too small, and Nashville was just right. I think it was a little bit rebellious of me as well. I wanted to prove that you didn’t have to follow the fashion rulebook and live in New York. I liked the idea that Nashville had an underground scene.
S&E Nashville: You were a musician in California, playing with another Nashville-based designer, Poni Silver (Black by Maria Silver), among others. You’ve also styled for CMT, the Grammys, Esperanza Spaulding, Motley Crue and others. How has being a musician translated into creating designs for other musicians?
Amanda Valentine: If I wasn’t a designer, I would definitely be pursuing music in some form. Most of my collections begin with a feeling I get from a song—sounds a little out there, but it’s true. In college, my favorite course was Social/ Psychological Aspects of Dress and my senior thesis was on counterculture movements and how they use dress to identify themselves. As a stylist it’s my job to translate the music —the feeling—into an identifying concrete uniform. Artists need to instantly be identifiable as artists and I love the challenge of identifying and displaying artists’ intentions and philosophy through what they wear.
S&E: What did you take away from your two seasons on “Project Runway” that has influenced your career and shaped the designs that people will see/have seen on the runways of Nashville Fashion Week?
Amanda Valentine: “Project Runway” —or “designer boot camp” as I like to call it— is an exercise I wish all artists could participate in. The QUICK challenges we were given forced us to make gut decisions, trust our intuition and defend our vision. Fashion, more than any other art form, does not exist in a vacuum, and standing before industry greats explaining ourselves allowed us all to better understand our brands. It also taught me that people are interested in your story, that consumers want to know the “maker”. That was difficult for me—I never had any desire to be the spokesperson for my brand, but even that in itself has helped me develop the priorities I have for that brand.
The following local based designers will be joining Amanda Valentine in showing their collections during Nashville Fashion Week:
Andrew Clancey: Any Old Iron— The United States’ first multi-brand British men’s boutique, debuting its first full collection.
Ashley Balding: Ona Rex— Formed in 2014 “to bring women’s wear to Nashville that is unique, bold, and luxurious.”
Denise Roxen: Roxenstone— Started by a former musician inspired by the “coolest image of a young Keith Richards. Everything he wore clashed so incredibly.”
Truly Alvernga – Showing minimalist, hand-made, one-of-a-kind garments from a collection that is “about the beauty of China and the women that inspired it.”
Kimberly Parker: Sisters of Nature—“Inspired by the wild beauty of nature with a new bohemian folk aesthetic.”
Designers from outside of Nashville include “Project Runway” Season 8 alumnus Michael Drummond (St. Louis, Mo.); Brooke Atwood (Savannah, Ga.); Marco Baldassari/Eleventy (Milan); Daniella Kallmeyer/Kallmeyer New York (New York City); Lagilelei Nadeau/Lagi Nadeau (Chicago); Megan Huntz (Atlanta); and Afriyie Poku/Oberima Afriyie (Atlanta).
Nashville Fashion Week events take place at various venues throughout the city. For more information, including detailed profiles of designers, schedule and ticket information, visit the official website. Valentine’s WeHo studio is sometimes open during Nashville’s monthly Saturday Art Crawl—if she’s not traveling to meet with clients. Check her official website to see if she’ll be around when you’re “crawling.”