KC Fashion Week’s 16-Year-Old Designer

KC Fashion Week’s youngest designer, Molly O’Brien, shares her inspiration and advice.

Story by Kathryn Greene |  Photos by Larry F. Levenson Photography

The Friday evening runway shows at Union Station made for a night full of firsts for KC Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2016 collections. St. Louis-based designer Paulie Gibson opened the show with the first menswear collection of the season—unmistakable summertime garments such as tropical fruit print shorts and brightly colored tops paired with white pants and blazers. Another notable designer was 16-year-old Molly O’Brien of Molly Elizabeth Designs, the youngest designer currently showing at KC Fashion Week. Although with her collection, she quickly proved that age is just a number.

O’Brien’s collection had a sporty edge with a touch of pop culture. (We loved her dress with a hashtag symbol across the front.) A baby-pink striped top emblazoned with “I’d rather be in London,” was a direct nod to O’Brien’s inspiration—she visited the city several years ago and fell in love. After the shows, we met up with O’Brien, who shared the mood board for her Spring/Summer 2016 collection with us exclusively and talked design, details and dreams.

Molly O’Brien’s mood board

Q: How many years have you been designing?

A: I started sewing when I was eight, when I went to a fashion camp, actually. I really got into the pattern making and technical side of designing my freshman year of high school. So, three years before the technical design.

Q: What was your inspiration for this collection?

A: This collection was inspired by London and the mix between the city and the garden, so it has a sporty feel. I traveled to London a couple years ago, and I fell in love with the city.

Q: Who are your favorite designers and biggest influences?

A: I definitely like the designers here from “Project Runway,” Joshua Christensen and Michael Drummond. I think my favorite designers are some of the classics, Chanel and Alexander Wang. I just really like the simple.

Q: What advice do you have for anyone out there, no matter their age, if they want to get into fashion design?

A: I would say believe in yourself and don’t let people tell you no because it is possible to be a fashion designer or whatever it is you want to do. I would also say networking is key; getting out there and making connections.

Q: Whats next for Molly Elizabeth Designs?

A: I see myself going to fashion school in either New York or Los Angeles, maybe at Parsons, FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), or FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). I would like to see my stuff sold online or in stores. That’s my goal.

Next week, O’Brien will take her S/S 2016 collection to Vancouver Fashion Week, her debut show in the Canadian city. Trust us, you’ll want to keep up with her—she may very well be the next big thing in fashion. Visit her website at

As KC Fashion Week concludes tomorrow night, the final events are sure to be among the most memorable, including the highly-anticipated collaboration between resort wear and caftan designer Alicia Janesko, and her sister, jewelry designer Jennifer Janesko. Check back tomorrow for our fashion week wrap-up.