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Q&A With Alternative Fashion Industry Insiders

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a fashion designer or model for an internationally recognised clothing brand? Well, Blue Banana has just become a step closer to finding out as we spoke to a team of talented designers from Voodoo Vixen, Jawbreaker and Bedroom Stories in glamorous Los Angeles about the alternative fashion design industry, what they look for in models and what inspires them.

If you have aspirations to work in fashion and design your own clothes or become a model, take notes! But first, allow us to introduce our interviewees…

Name: Jennifer

Role: General Manager

Background: “I’ve been designing and making my own clothing and handbags for myself, friends, and family since a pre-teen growing up in Orange County. I’ve always loved art, music, and fashion and have dressed and experimented through every genre from punk, goth, psychobilly, rockabilly, 1950s vintage, 60’s mod and always mix it up with current trends.  I went to school in LA and have a BA in fashion merchandising and design.”

One of the amazing vintage inspired designs from Voodoo Vixen.

One of the amazing vintage inspired designs from Voodoo Vixen.

Name: Caroline

Role: Designer

Background: “I’m just an LA native who has always admired art, street fashion, high fashion and music. I love the way music influences art and culture. My own personal style is by no means over the top or crazy but I absolutely love seeing people express themselves through dress. Although I can definitely appreciate the simplicity in things, I say the crazier the better!”

Name: Amanda

Role: Designer

Background: “I’m originally from a small town in Southern Oregon, and have always had a strong passion for the arts. With a background in fine art I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Costume and Make-up Design while fronting bands as a guitarist and vocalist. I came to LA in 2001 to pursue music as well as art and design. It’s been a great adventure and I’ve been able to do so much in the years I’ve been here.”

How does someone make a career out of designing alternative fashion clothing?

Jennifer: “I think it helps to have a solid foundation. Learn the craft of properly composing a garment, then you can bend and twist the rules to make your own mark on the industry.  I think it helps to have a wide variety of interests that all tie back into a desire to create fashion.”

Amanda: “First of all, the drive and love of fashion has to be there. I do think education helps. I also think being a person who has been a part of the counter culture that genuinely wears and creates pieces for their own wardrobe is helpful. Experimentation and having fun is an important part of it.”

Caroline: “It really starts with you just putting yourself out there. Believing you have a voice that can contribute to the culture you are designing for and that your vision brings a unique perspective to your market.”

What inspires the designs and styles of Voodoo Vixen and Jawbreaker?

Amanda: “Designs are inspired by many things, especially the urban sprawl of the Los Angeles area; rich with culture, street art, and the ever changing buzz of the underground music scene.”

Jennifer: “I love going to festivals and concerts!  This is where I get my dose of street, sub-culture inspiration. There are so many eclectic people that take fashion to the next level to draw inspiration from. I’m obsessed with fashion from movies from the 1920s and 30s right now!”

Style inspiration, vintage burlesque model Dita Von Teese

Style inspiration, vintage burlesque model Dita Von Teese

What fashion icons or celebrities do the designers look up to for inspiration?

Jennifer: “Jean Harlow, Greta Garbow, Jayne Mansfield, Doris Day and of course Ms. Marilyn Monroe. Designers that have had an impact on me are Vivienne Westwood, Betsy Johnson, Alexander Macqueen, Zac Posen.”

Caroline: “Some celebrities we look for fashion inspiration would be Dita Von Teese; Lady Gaga is always interesting, Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel, Cat Von Dee and the list goes on…”

Amanda: “Marilyn Monroe, Dita Von Teese, Madonna, Joan Jett, Deborah Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Wendy O Williams.”

Which styles are you looking to explore more in the future?

Amanda: “For Voodoo Vixen we are looking at exploring vintage from times other than the 50s. We have been looking at the 20s, 30s, and 40s and we’re loving the 60s Mod era as well! We would like to explore and add a bit more street style to Jawbreaker.”

Jennifer: “Our market has really exploded and grown in the past few years.  There’s a great blend of 50s vintage influence in Voodoo Vixen.  I have really been looking to incorporate more influence from other mid-century eras.”

What kind of models do you look for to model your clothing?

Caroline: “We try to keep true to our market and pick models that reflect actual people/styles in the subculture scene such as rockabilly and pinup.”

Jennifer: “Unfortunately, I have had the experience of working with some people with some pretty bad attitudes.  So I always look for people with good attitudes and great vibe!  I look for people that have a love and appreciation for our industry and clothing we create.”

Amanda: “We look for young men and women with an interesting look as well as someone who knows their body and how to act to create cute and/or interesting poses that will showcase the clothing nicely. A good personality with a willingness to work and try different things during direction is very important as well.”

What advice would you offer to young alternative models and designers to make their ambitions a reality?

One day you might design or model clothes like these!
One day you might design or model clothes like these!

Caroline: “Just be willing to start in any position. Always take opportunities as they come no matter how small or insignificant they may seem because one thing can lead to another.”

Jennifer: “A strong design portfolio, education, and experience. Apply for Internships or small odd jobs in the industry because you never know who you will meet and where that could lead.  I got my first job in the industry when I met someone at a downtown LA showroom while I was working for free doing paperwork filing! Always make it a point to do the things that inspire and ignite your senses.”

Amanda: “It’s just like any other industry, you have to be persistent, fearless of failure and sometimes good old fashion luck helps too. Study design or modelling. Get out there and show people what you can do. Learn history and research ideas. It’s also very important to be receptive to criticism and willing to learn and grow from others. Don’t be afraid to experiment and push yourself. Be resourceful.

Hopefully this advice will inspire all you wannabe designers and models out there to make an impression in the alternative fashion industry! Don’t forget to check out our great range of dresses from the designers of Jawbreaker and Voodoo Vixen either!

Written by Leum Patrick


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