Laura Kathleen will show her latest collection at Kansas City Fashion Week in March
Designer Laura Kathleen Baker would probably be the first to admit that she’s not quite as sweet and innocent as you might expect, given her pretty face and petite frame. “I might look like a Barbie, but I bite,” is how the star of Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway” and “Project Runway All Stars” often describes herself. The same could be said of her designs: chic and feminine, but with a definite edge.
Laura Kathleen’s jewelry line, Love Armour, is currently available at the Westport boutique Colfax, and she hopes to have her apparel line represented in Kansas City soon too. In the meantime, you can have a peek at her latest collection when she shows it at Kansas City Fashion Week in March. We caught up with her ahead of her visit to KC.
Q: How did you get your start in fashion?
A: It’s hard to tell when I “started” in fashion. To have the guts to stick with fashion long enough to be successful, you have to be born into it. The fashion business is completely different than most people think it would be. It’s very tough. I have to admit that I had the wrong idea of what working in fashion meant. But as the reality of what it’s like has set in, the one thing that makes me stay still remains: Fashion, more than any other industry, has the power to transform the people who embrace it.
Q: What did your experiences on “Project Runway” and “Project Runway All Stars” teach you?
A: My experience taught me to let go of insecurities. Whether that meant to let go of my own personal self-doubt or my design doubt, it removed a lot of uncertainty. I think it also made me more of a believer in being lucky. Sometimes, even if the life we are presented with is wonderful, we are cursed with the idea that grass is always greener on the other side. I think it made me more thankful for what I have, but also made me hungrier to achieve my goals.
Q: You’re not only a designer, you also taught fashion design at a charter school in your hometown of St. Louis. How did you encourage your students to “make it work”?
A: The students that I taught during my five years at Lift for Life Academy are very special. This charter school has a unique mission that states it is there for “any student willing.” The school saves lives and helps encourage students that may otherwise not receive the assistance they need to succeed. In the classroom, we were teaching much more than fashion. I made sure that every “mistake” made in the classroom was not a bad thing, but a way to learn more and to come up with new ideas. I think this lesson is great for us all to apply to life.
Q: How would you describe the Laura Kathleen customer?
A: The Laura Kathleen customer is someone who obtains luxury. I say obtain because she doesn’t just desire things, she goes and gets them. The LK woman definitely likes to be glamorous but has a lot going on, whether that is career or social life. She is an elegant woman, who understands how to be sexy and sophisticated at the same time. Lastly, she is always dressed appropriately for every occasion, and is always the most interesting woman in the room. Truly, she is the woman in my dreams that I aspire to be when I design each collection.
Q: Which celebrities would you most like to see wearing your designs?
A: Marilyn Monroe—but unfortunately that won’t happen! I don’t really dream of dressing anyone. I just want the women who wear my clothes to absolutely love them.
Q: What fashion trend would you love to see the end of? Are there any you’d bring back?
A: I sort of hate the word trend. I like to act as though it doesn’t exist. I like clothes that are timeless. Of course, not all of my designs will stand the test of time but that’s my still my goal.
Q: Tell us about the collection you’ll be showing at Kansas City Fashion Week.
A: I’ll be showing our Fall 2014 collection. We are continuing to build our lines, so you will see some carry through from Fall 2013 in more color ways and with slight changes. Our signature fabric has become satin neoprene.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I always have several things in the oven baking—you’ll have to keep checking laurakathleen.com to find out!