Monday, March 22, 2010

Voltage Designer Spotlight: Frances Zerr

By Juleana Enright

A fresh face in the Twin Cities design scene, Fargo-born designer, Frances Zerr, received her bachelor’s in art history before moving on to study among the innovative design mentors at NY’s Parsons the New School for Design. We got our first taste of her design flavor at last fall’s La Nouvelle Femme, where she revealed a striking line of garments full of angles, texture and fashion-forward creativity. With a wearable-to-the-death design aesthetic and a nod to the on-the-go woman, Zerr’s line challenges the concept of sustainability vs. fashion. Her design aesthetic calls to mind a '40s approach where the shopper’s emphasis is on purchasing long-term classic pieces not splurging on trendy forgettables. For her Voltage ‘10 collection, prepare to see a confident runway show of clean lines, natural fabrics and impeccable hand craftsmanship.

Frances graciously answered a few of our pressing questions this week...

Photo by Stephanie Colgan

Your designs incorporate a classic “wearable-to-the-death” aesthetic sensibility. Do you have pieces in your personal wardrobe that have been “worn-to-death?"

Frances: Absolutely. I dress myself day-to-day with a sort of "uniform" mentality. Classic button-ups in chambray and white cotton paired with skinny jeans is my go-to outfit for days when I need to get work done without any fuss. A well-cut item stands the test of time and always feels relevant.

l'étoile: What are your thoughts on construction quality vs. trendiness? Do you think it's possible to have both?

Frances: I think that is possible to have both. The key is to find a balance between trend and quality within a single item or outfit. I personally will pay more for an item that I know will get me through a couple of seasons because the trendiness is toned down and the quality stands out. In my own work, I try to figure out how to make a trend really wearable, to give it a cut or a fabric choice that will make it feel more timeless.

Photo by Stacy Schwartz / Voltage 2010 Media & Buyer's preview

l'étoile: In one of the shots from the Voltage Spring Preview show, your model sports an updated take on overalls. What was this look inspired by specifically, and how challenging is it to take a concept inspired by perhaps workwear or vintage and take a fresh spin on it?

Frances: The overalls, as well as much of the rest of my Spring/Summer 2010 collection, were strongly influenced by workwear. It is a constant challenge to adapt classic styles into fashion that feels modern and relevant. My favorite results come from uncomplicating these items, using wearable colors and fabrics and – most importantly – developing a modern fit.

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

Frances: I love APC for their incredibly wearable and well-made collections. The first time I walked into an APC boutique, I walked around the store two or three times examining every piece as if it was an unearthed gem that I had been looking for for a long time without realizing it. On the other hand, I love a lot of young American labels. Philip Lim is a definite influence. He brings such a fine-tuned coolness to his clothes. It’s quirky and smart, but so so cool.

Photo by Charlie Ward/Nouvelle Femme Show 2009

l'étoile: What advice do you have for up-and-coming local designers to advance in the fashion community and get noticed?

Frances: Studio work is very isolating; the only way to get your work out there is to get out there yourself. Always try to represent your work through yourself within your community. Be appreciative and supportive of fellow creatives. Not everyone will love what you do, but if they notice that you care about your work that is usually enough to gain a little bit of interest, or at least respect.

For more information on Frances Zerr click HERE

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

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