Seattle has long struggled as a challenger in the fashion ring, but this year we finally upgraded to contender status. Our fleeced and frumpy reputation was KO’d by a growing number of fashion-focused events (Seattle Art Museum’s Remix runway shows, we’re talking about you), a brand-new citywide shopping week out (see page 103) and countless runway shows—more and more of which are showcasing creative, local talent. Circling the ring for their own shot at glory, a record 38 designers entered our third annual Seamless in Seattle contest. Armed with an arsenal of innovative, fresh designs—from whimsical, woodland-inspired gowns to a new take on old-fashioned American- heritage menswear—this year’s five winners and two runners-up (chosen by a team of fashion and retail experts) withstood our fashion-design gauntlet to rise to the top.
Heili Aun Nalla
(above, second from left)
THE CREATIVE SPARK: In 2002, Estonian-born Nalla, 33, moved to Seattle, where she met her future husband, a native of India, who introduced her to a world of color. Crafting sharply tailored coats and day-to-evening skirts and tops in deep plums, teals and tans, the Redmond resident adds design elements such as full rosette coat collars and intricate structural pleats. “I’m so fascinated by the complexity of plants in nature—and yet how simplistic they are,” she says. “I want to make garments that walk that same line.”
THE COLLECTION: “I design feminine garments that take a nod from classic, well-tailored silhouettes, but add a fresh new element. I have a passion for jackets. The outer layer should be as important and beautiful as the rest of the outfit.”
FIRST GARMENT EVER CREATED: “As a little girl, I made clothes for my dolls. I sewed most of my clothes in high school, and would go to the department stores and flip garments over to try to figure out how to make them. Not that I told anyone; it wasn’t cool to make your own clothes then."
FIND HER AT: Heilyke (heilyke.com)
From left to right. On Kate: one-shoulder gold denim dress with golden piping detail, layered under dark blue wool jacket with green dupioni silk piping detail; green Pour La Victoire heels from The Finerie. On Heili (wearing her own designs): gray wool jacket with felted merino wool ruffle collar, layered over metallic knit top; double flounce wool skirt. On Annie: tan alpaca wool pleated collar jacket lined with light blue floral silk, layered over dark brown washed wool pleated-neckline dress lined with rust orange china silk; red Pour La Victoire cage heels from The Finerie. On Emma: prune wool coat with ruffle collar, tights and scarf provided by designer; black Chie Mihara “Kamea” heels from A Mano.
Video: Heili Aun Nalla on her style
DESIGN SCHOOL: Art Institute of Seattle, class of 2011
THE CREATIVE SPARK: When Kent-based Marlatt, 57, hits a design dry spell, she seeks sanctuary in fabric stores. “Color and fabric are where my ideas start,” says the funeral director by day. “ I get almost irrationally excited by the texture of fabric.” Texture, weight and fabric flow play key roles in Marlatt’s ethereal, woodland-inspired gowns, which feature fanciful color combinations, hand-dyed ribbons and thoughtful, feminine-friendly construction.
DESIGN MISSION: “Comfort above all else. Having had body issues, I know what it is like to be uncomfortable in your own clothes. I design with wearability and comfort top of mind—even in evening gowns.”
FIRST GARMENT CREATED: “When I was 10, I used to baby-sit for the neighbors, and she would pay me in fabric, which I thought was better than money, and let me use her sewing machine. I made this blue-and-white gingham-check skirt and T-shape blouse for myself on her machine.”
LIFE INFLUENCES ART: “I came back to school to fulfill my need for a creative outlet, but what almost stopped me was being afraid my ideas would be too old, or too stuffy. And at first, they were. But I’m inspired by the younger students and hearing their ideas. It’s changing how I view my own clothes and the ones I design. Next up, I want to design garments for women my age that are as creative and fun as we are. Not many designers [can] do that well.”
FIND HER AT: firstname.lastname@example.org
From left to right. On Kate: teal “Sabbrina” silk chiffon and gold silk organza dress, draped front ruffle and halter-neckline wrap with hand-dyed silk ribbon ties. On Emma: knee-length “Angela” green and white striped silk dress with circle-cut polyester skirt and silk hand-dyed ribbon ties; green Chie Mihara “Omizu” T-strap heels from A Mano. On Cindy (wearing her own designs): teal hemp, rayon and wool jacket with gray silk trim; silk blouse in two layers, blue plaid silk shirt with a silk chiffon floral overlay; poly/rayon navy slacks.
DESIGN SCHOOL: New York Fashion Academy, class of 2010
THE CREATIVE SPARK: Chrisman’s eye for the unexpected—and a former career in architecture—drive the design of her modern mix-and-match skirts, tops and jackets. “I am drawn to basic, well-made garments that have subtle yet unique or unexpected detailing.” The 28-year-old Capitol Hill resident adds creative elements to her young-professional dresses, such as off-center, industrial back zippers and buttoned side pockets, and polished jackets lined with cheeky prints and asymmetrical collars. FAVORITE FASHION TREND: “I really like exposed hardware and cute prints. I have been seeing a lot of different prints mixed together to create one look, and I like the interest and play this can create in an outfit.”
BIGGEST FASHION FAUX PAS: “Unfortunately, there were a lot of jean overalls in my high school days.” HOW PERSONAL STYLE INFLUENCES DESIGNS: “I design for what I look for in stores myself—and often can’t find. I pick out elements that I’m drawn to and what I want to wear.”
AVAILABLE AT: apusclothing.com
From left to right. On dress form: Black cashmere coat with leather detail, asymmetric button placket with front zipper; white crepe-de-chine silk blouse with asymmetric button placket, paired with golden cotton velveteen skirt. On Emma: golden cotton velveteen shift dress with front button placket, in-seam pockets and off-center back exposed metal zipper. On Katie (wearing her own designs): black silk linen shift dress with front button placket and center back exposed zipper. On dress form: white silk shift dress with black pin-tuck placket and center back exposed metal zipper.
THE CREATIVE SPARK: “I like to manipulate solid fabrics to create texture and visual interest,” says this lover of vintage fashion. Fedore, 41, adds repurposed trims (often from France, circa the 1930s and ’40s) and buttons to sass up her easy-to-wear organic cotton and hemp frocks, and comfortable screen-print tees. For inspiration, the lifelong Seattleite combs the flea markets (along with local antique suppliers in her Ballard nabe), salvaging treasures. “It’s a shame to find gorgeous buttons tucked away in a drawer somewhere.”
DESIGN MISSION: “To craft distinct garments that are versatile [and] comfortable, and incorporate domestically sourced materials that are either sustainable or leave minimal footprints.”
BIGGEST FASHION FAUX PAS: “My mom let me dress myself at a very young age. When I was 4, my favorite outfit contained black fishnet stockings, red patent leather shoes, and a little pink and purple fur coat.”
HOW PERSONAL STYLE INFLUENCES HER DESIGNS: “I usually exercise some amount of restraint. Maybe rather than putting all of my favorite things into one garment, I’ll pick just one and incorporate it into the design. I don’t like my clothes to wear me.” find her at: Una (una-shop.com)
AVAILABLE AT: Velouria (Ballard, 2205 NW Market St., 206.788.0330; Capitol Hill, 1521 Melrose Ave., 206.623.1130; shopvelouria.tripod.com)
From left to right. On Susan (wearing her own design): black organic cotton “Nola” dress with bateau neckline and vintage buttons at waist. On Annie: hemp/organic cotton jersey garnet “Jolie” sleeveless dress with black vintage appliques at waist. On Kate: organic cotton/ French terry navy empire-waist “Greta” dress with cowl neck accented by vintage buttons, curved pocket detail and three-quarter sleeves; brown Moma leather oxfords from A Mano.
THE CREATIVE SPARK: Banjos, root beer, hot rods and his two toddler sons are among the muses for the Redmond-based designer’s denim work aprons, button-up shirts, wool ties, grandpa-chic plaid caps and boys’ shirts and ties. A purist down to the last detail, Andersen, 31, tea-dyes his own fabrics and hammers nails by hand to use as belt clasps. “It’s about the beauty in the imperfect, and in a very 1930s Dust Bowl mentality, making do with what you have at hand."
DESIGN MISSION: “I want to create pieces that live, that have a story and a sense of history. Right now, I am very inspired by 1960s surf culture, and my next project is centered on surfing, road trips and, ultimately, the correlated feeling of freedom.”
BIGGEST FASHION FAUX PAS: “The size 48 jeans I wore in the early ’90s. I’m a stick-skinny guy; they were just huge on me. In my defense, I did learn to alter the waist so they didn’t fall off.”
FIND HIM AT: redcrowgoods.com
From left to right (all clothes are Tyson’s designs). On Tyson: tan cotton herringbone twill cap; cotton plaid bowtie; cotton denim work apron with large front chest pocket, multiple utility pockets and tool loops; slim-fit five-pocket denim pant with single-needle topstitching. On Tyson’s son, Aiden: cotton poplin woven shirt with split-seam back yoke and plastic horn buttons; five-pocket denim pant with plaid pocket lining; red bowtie made from repurposed bandanna. On Tyson’s son, Liam: white cotton jersey tee with cotton/poly gingham chest pocket layered under double-weave cotton plaid zip-up hoodie; khaki cotton herringbone twill pants with bandanna pocket lining.
Video: Tyson Anderson on his style
Molly Gwendolyn Griffith
(second from left)
DESIGN SCHOOL: Cornish College of the Arts; New York Fashion Academy, class of 2010
THE CREATIVE SPARK: After modeling for the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Christian Lacroix and the late Alexander McQueen from 1998 to 2008, the 32-year-old’s show-stopping designs are clear celebrations of curves. Griffith enhances the female form with beautiful and delicate corseted lingerie and stunning red-carpet-ready draped gowns.
BIGGEST FASHION FAUX PAS: “Showing up to every event dressed in fancy gowns when everyone else was in jeans.”
AVAILABLE AT: mollygwendolyn.com
From left to right. On Annie: Molly Gwendolyn “Dea” silk Georgette gown in nude with pleated bodice, draped skirt and bead straps. On Molly (wearing her own designs): “Dolce” silk taffeta 15-bone corset with a draped silk organza skirt in pink poppy. On Kate: Millie Vixen “Betty” dress in vintage-inspired Italian cotton print, asymmetrical bodice with tucked bow detail at shoulder paired pink rosette vintage tulle crinoline slip and Millie Vixen hairpiece; Pour La Victoire heels from The Finerie. On Camille (wearing her own designs): jersey cotton teal scoop-neck top with flutter dolman sleeves and silk rosette appliques; cotton boned skirt with striped jersey cotton underwear.
DESIGN SCHOOL: New York Fashion Academy, class of 2010
THE CREATIVE SPARK: Goodman’s designs take hard-edge vintage styles—and mix them with Katy Perry’s closet. “I also draw inspiration from old movies and classic feminine silhouettes.” Mountlake Terrace–based Goodman, 22, not only embraces curves but often exaggerates them in playful dress-up frocks made from colorful vintage fabrics, with full tulle underskirts and quirky bow details.
BIGGEST FASHION FAUX-PAS: “When I was a freshman in high school, I went on a ‘men’s baggy Dickies shorts and trucker hat’ phase.”
FAVORITE FASHION TREND: “I love to see girls and women dressing up. Period. Day, night and especially as they go out for a night on the town.”
AVAILABLE AT: Millie Vixen (millievixen.com) and Pretty Parlor (Capitol Hill, 119 Summit Ave. E, 206.405.2883, prettyparlor.com)
Readers’ Choice winner:
More than 35,000 readers voted online for their favorite entrant. With more than 9,000 votes, our first Readers’ Choice award goes to emerging designer Jolie Poirier of Poirier Couture. Go to seattlemag.com to see her designs.
Stylist: Hope Misterek
Stylist’s assistant: Lily Brewis
Hair & makeup: Tom Pollock
and Erin Skipley for Ajentse
Models: Provided by Heffner Management
Dress forms provided by Susan Wheeler Home (Georgetown, 5515 Airport Way S; 360.402.5080) > Crates from Crate Tech (Kent, 8247 S 194th St.; 253.872.6857; cratetech.com) > Shoes provided by A Mano (downtown, 1115 First Ave.; 206.292.1767; shopamano.com) and The Finerie (downtown, 1215 First Ave.; 206.652.4664; thefinerie.com)