If it’s custom-made, it’s bespoke. A dress, suit, pants, jeans, shirts, shorts—bespoke garments are made by hand, one piece of clothing at a time. The word bespoke has been around for 400 years. The Louisville Bespoke Fashion Show is celebrating its fourth annual event in April.
Led by fashion designer Yamilca Rodriguez, Louisville Bespoke is an entire community of designers and models, makeup artists and hair stylists, photographers and videographers, and all the other experts it takes to produce fashion in the Derby City. This year’s fashion show features the work of nine designers. Let’s meet three of them.
Another repeat participant, Laura Patterson showed her designs in 2017 and 2018, and can’t wait for the 2020 Louisville Bespoke show. “It's always my favorite event of the year,” she says. “It is so exciting to be a part of such an amazing showcase of talent and art in the beautiful and classic Speed Art Museum.”
Laura’s line, Cannonball Swimwear, reflects her own design aesthetic and personal appreciation of fine quality, from the materials she chooses to the care taken in every stitch sewn in each garment. Her wish is “that you love your body in all that you wear.”
Growing up in Louisville, Laura learned sewing and dressmaking from her mom and grandmother. Athletic and adventurous by nature, Laura loves to surf, eat foods she’s never tried, and take Polaroid pictures in places she’s never been. She has traveled the world to take in the sights and activities (and fabrics!) endemic to Hawaii, Central America, India and other exotic locales.
As for the Louisville Bespoke 2020 theme of breaking the mold? “Swimwear has throughout history pushed the edge of society's expectations of women,” Laura says. “I think that continuing to move forward with innovative and exciting designs showcased by women of all ages, shapes and ethnicities may break the mold in and of itself, so perhaps we're already doing just that by being exactly who we are.”
Designer Lisa Kahl-Hillerich will be participating in her third Louisville Bespoke fashion show with her denim line called RoxyNell. For the 2020 theme of “Breaking the Mold,” Lisa says her approach for her new denim fashions will be about “unexpected types of denim fabric and finishes—things that people may have not have seen used for blue jeans before.” Intriguing, to be sure.
Lisa launched RoxyNell in 2016, naming the line after her grandmother. A Louisville native, she spent 25 years in corporate America before following her heart and creative passions. Lisa says, “When I turned 50 I left my corporate family and began my journey, seeking my new calling.”
When she had custom jeans made for herself a few years ago, she enjoyed the experience so much she decided to start her own business of making jeans that fit. She sold each pair of custom-made jeans to one client at a time and then started selling them with trunk shows around town. “After having some success and partnering with a tailor we now have a brick and mortar store in NuLu,” Lisa says of RoxyNell on Market Street. Customers can try on jeans at the store and have them altered, or choose a design consultation and 10-point measurement for custom-made RoxyNell jeans from scratch. Make that bespoke jeans.
Bridal designer and formalwear designer Kimberly Phillips is showcasing her bridal gowns and formal gowns for the third year in a row at the Louisville Bespoke Fashion Show.
Known for her elegantly simple and classic designs, Kimberly’s gowns and Derby-worthy formalwear have a timeless appeal with a modern silhouette, and she almost always uses flowing fabrics. “I like to see fabric move,” she says. She is inspired by nice fabrics that have a great feel, like chiffon and satin.
Kimberly has owned her own bridal and formalwear design business for a dozen years now. This fall she will celebrate five years with her own line called the Graceful Peony Bridal Collection.
For the 2020 Louisville Bespoke show, Kimberly’s pieces on the runway will include bridal gowns and formal gowns all in her chosen color palette of white, ivory and gold, with scattered silvers. “I’m taking a royal stance to it,” she says. “I have some things up my sleeve.”
Kimberly went to Western Kentucky University for her bachelor’s degree in design, merchandising and textile. On campus, she made costumes for theater productions and really honed her custom skills. Now she sees clients in her hometown of Brandenburg, Kentucky, a beautiful city along the Ohio River. “My whole goal is to keep it as simple as possible, so it’s simple when I'm with the client,” she says.
Louisville Bespoke Fashion Show and Shopping Experience
“Breaking the Mold”
Friday, April 10 from 6–10 p.m. at the Speed Art Museum
Tickets range from $35 to $95, available at LouisvilleBespoke.com
TOPS is proud to be the presenting media sponsor for the event.