by Jahna Peloquin
Saturday night's MNfashion Week show SCENEaSOTA boasts a bevy of local fashion talent. Among the designers is someone not at all new to the local fashion scene, Emma Berg. It will be the mplsart.com director, Fox Tax Gallery curator and all-around fashion plate's debut collection. I sat down with Emma, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, for an impromptu interview over wine at her Minneapolis home, where she told me more about the collection and her design background.
JP: Tell me where you’re at right now. It’s a couple days before the show and you have a lot to do. How are you feeling?
EB: I’m feeling pretty good. I have a finale piece to finalize. I’m trying to figure out where it is I want it to go because it’s not as extreme as I want it to be.
JP: What inspired the finale piece?
EB: I had this color palette and I actually had another piece picked out that had an abundance of ruffles, and it didn’t seem like it was pushing it enough. So I went back to the fabric store and found this fabric. It’s this crazy folded white satin, and I just fell in love with it, so I’m trying to figure out how to make it work.
JP: It kind of reminds me of the accordion fabric that Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman used for his “Eluded Love” show.
EB: Yes, very.
JP: But a wintry version.
EB: Yes. And with all of these, I’m trying to create something I haven't done before. Especially with this final piece, I want to make sure that I’m learning something from it.
JP: So let’s go back for a second. What inspired you to start designing now? You’ve been working for Target, you’ve been doing mplsart, you’ve been curating at Fox Tax, and you always support local designers. Why now?
EB: Well one, I took a trip to India last summer, and was inspired by all the draping, and seeing how the younger generation styled a very traditional sari to made it their own. That was really interesting to me. And I guess part of it too is having supported artists and designers and whatnot, all of a sudden it was like, wait, what if I do something too? It’s nice to focus on what I really want to do, not that I don’t like carrying mplsart, but it’s nice to be able to focus on me.
JP: Have you gotten any reactions from people so far? It seems like a lot of the press is focused on your debut in this show.
EB: It’s exciting, but that’s why the finale piece has to be good. That’s why I started all over. (laughs) If I’m going to get a bunch of attention, I’d better make it worth it, or you know, I have to earn it. I want to show appreciation.
JP: Yeah. And now that everyone is looking at you, you know, you have that much more reason to make everything amazing.
EB: Yeah. It’ll be embarrassing otherwise!
JP: Do you know of any people you’re excited to have at the show?
JP: Any family?
EB: My mother is super excited. She’s cute. I told her about the show a while ago and she was really excited. And the other day we’re talking and I’m like, “Oh, MN Monthly voted Fox Tax as best gallery.” And she’s just like, “Oh, that’s nice, but I’m really excited about your fashion show.” She knows this is something I’ve always done, and I think she’s excited that I’m coming back to it. My mom called saying “I have some stuff, could you come pick it up?” and it was clothes I had designed when I was in middle school and high school, and course info for FIT. It was a nice little push.
JP: To everyone, it must seem like you’re a new designer, but you’ve really been designing since middle school.
EB: I didn’t sell for a tiny little bit at this boutique in St. Paul called Lookit, just a few pieces, and I held onto a couple pieces. But they were very ‘90s. It was very .. lots of leather, stars, bright colors, vinyl hearts.
JP: How is that different from what you wear now?
EB: (laughs) They were really absurd. I think my favorite was a bright, thick blue vinyl short skirt that just completely flared out and it had silver leather hearts on the back as pockets, a little bit of a raver feel.
JP: Where do you see this going, what’s next?
EB: I guess it just depends on where opportunity knocks. It’s been a great experience, and it’s hard to look at it and think, okay, I have to make four of those. Is that something I’m going to do? And right now with everything else I’m doing, that’s not going to happen. But it will be interesting to hear what people have to say about it. I had a nightmare yesterday that I was at a bunch of events for MNfashion, and all the clothes were like Chanel and Alexander McQueen, over-the-top amazing, and I’m like, “What am I doing?! What am I thinking?” I was so nervous that people would be comparing me to something like that.
JP: We just need to find people to help you sew. I mean Karl Lagerfeld designs three lines, you know.
EB: I mean right now it’s nice to just experience it.
SCENEaSOTA happens Saturday at the Ignite Modeling Studio. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brin Glass Building, 600 Washington Ave. N. Suite 101, Minneapolis, $10 general, $20 VIP.