Thursday, April 15, 2010

Voltage Designer Spotlight: Emma Berg

By Juleana Enright

To those clued in to the local arts scene, director and founder of, Emma Berg, is a pretty much a household name. Through her long-time stint as curator for the Gallery at Fox Tax and as producer of numerous other exhibits and events, Emma has helped springboard the careers of some very noteworthy young artists. Also well known for her daring and distinct personal style, it’s no surprise that this tastemaker's love of couture has segued into a budding design career. Berg has been sewing since childhood, only recently debuting her designs to the public for the first time in last Fall’s Scene-A-Sota fashion show. Just as she ardently pinpoints what’s hot in the art world by bringing it to the walls of local galleries, Emma’s fashion design aesthetic blends high art with international runway-worthy high style. Using sumptuous fabrics with close attention to color and silhouette, her designs definitely reflect her keen curator’s eye. In fact, a number of pieces in her new collection even include custom-printed silk emblazoned with the work of local artist, Ruben Nusz. Expect Berg's Voltage debut to strut the fine line between deliciously wearable and avant-garde!

This week we chat with Emma about the ins and outs of fashion shows, personal style and why her Voltage collection is like creating a monster.

Photo by Stephanie Colgan for Voltage: Fashion Amplified

l'étoile: As director and founder of and curator for the Fox Tax Gallery, you obviously possess an artistic eye. Do you see your design and curatorial work as part of an overall artistic narrative, or are they distinct endeavors for you?

Emma: They do have their similarities in as far as they both attempt to inspire the viewer in a way that I think is relevant.

l'étoile: Along with putting on buzzed about art exhibits, you also played a key role in producing one of the most exciting local runway shows to date, Laura Fulk's solo debut, "Suffocate" last year. What motivated you to make the jump from behind the scenes to front and center to produce your own line?

Emma: Designing has been a passion of mine for a long time and it had been placed on the back burner in order to make time for Target, mplsart, Fox Tax and the rest of life. Now seemed right to pick it back up, to make it a priority.

Photo by Stacy Schwartz / Voltage Media & Buyers preview

l'étoile: You're known around the Twin Cities as quite the fashion plate. Do you think your personal style differs from your style as a designer? Are there pieces you would wear that you wouldn't show or vice versa?

Emma: With designs that I make specifically for myself, I see them as “studies”. Just as a painter might focus on a single character of a painting, I focus on a garment as it relates to my overall direction in a collection. Sometimes aspects of the garment are re-used and other times they are shelved.

Photo by Nicholas Marshall for l'etoile magazine

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

Emma: Perhaps it is less of a love child of the standard making and more a Frankenstein creation of a thousand things I am inspired by. It would have the wild hair of Ms. Westwood, the right arm of Victor, the left arm of Rolf, the skin of Valentino, Karl’s teeth, Stella’s eyes, the lips of Elber, the nose of Giles, the fingernails of Yamamoto, kneecaps of Galliano, neck of Donatella, the thighs of Marc, and the brow or Hussein. Add in some scenes from the movie Earth, flowers from my hiking trip in Costa Rica, a few lyrics by Wild Beasts, the costume designs of Edith Head, paintings by Ruben Nusz, the stage presence of Karen O and the exuberance of Auntie Mame.

l'étoile: Describe the kind of film you could see your Voltage collection featured in. What kind of motif do you think it would embody?

Emma: A remake of Auntie Mame, of course!

To visit Emma Berg's website click HERE

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

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