Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Voltage Designer Spotlight: Christine Carmichael

By Juleana Enright

Design veteran Christine Carmichael (of Carmichael Claith) is always one to watch, dabbling in several runway shows every year, including the recent Envision, SCENEaSOTA and last year‘s Voltage. A traditional seamstress known to spark twinges of nostalgia with her timeless silhouettes and contemporary tailoring, Carmichael’s apparel is the perfect presentation of elegant urban style with hints of Scottish and English sportswear. For her Voltage collection, Carmichael tackles tailored menswear with modern pieces inspired by the literary classic, The Wind in the Willows. No surprise to us; we’ve always seen Toad as quite the distinguished fashion vanguard.

We chatted with Christine this week about her designs and Voltage 2010...

Photo by Stephanie Colgan for Voltage: Fashion Amplified

l'étoile: Your Voltage collection is a mix of Scottish elements, Victorian-era English sporting wear and traditional folklore with modern updates – themes you've entertained in other collections. What inspires you about these regions and era in particular?

Christine: The history of that era and the location has interested me since childhood and has provided a basis for imagination much the same way that places like the American Mountain West inspires other designers. The focus and attention to detail in the clothing during that era is inspiring, as well as the combination of style with function found in the clothing.

l'étoile: You recently showed collections at Envision and SCENEaSOTA and are the sole fashion designer returning to the runway from last year's Voltage event. Of all the productions you've been involved in, which has been your favorite and what have you learned?

Photo by Stephanie Hynes for SCENEaSOTA 2009

Christine: The first SCENEaSOTA, because you get to be apart of the production from the ground up. You simply do not appreciate all the work that goes into a show until you have to put one together yourself. At SCENEaSOTA, we were able to come together and successfully put together a show that we were proud of and it has grown every year since.

l'étoile: Your line this season has a “Wind in the Willows” theme. Disney, Broadway or literary version? And how did this concept come to you? Please tell us there will be anthropomorphic runway models.

Christine: The theme is drawn from the original literary version of the story. The descriptions written by Kenneth Grahame in the book and the various illustrations inspired by them are the source of the style elements that I will be incorporating into the designs. This was one of my favorite childhood stories, and I thought that the adventures of the characters would translate to a runway story very well.

Photo by Stacy Schwartz / Voltage 2010 Preview

l'étoile: What Twin Cities spots do you draw inspiration from and how do they inspire you?

Christine: The Saint Paul riverfront, the historic architectural buildings on Summit Hill and in the Mac/Groveland area, as well as some of the more rural areas such as vineyards or orchards.

l'étoile: If your Voltage collection was the love child of two designers, who would they be?

Christine: The great storyteller Marc Jacobs with the impeccable tailoring and imagination of Alexander McQueen.

For more information of Christine Carmichael click HERE.

For more info on Voltage: Fashion Amplified and to purchase tickets for the April 16th event at First Avenue click HERE.

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