Welcome to the fabulous world of festival fashion! In this branch of fashion for a designer is even easier to feel free from every bond of style, uses and trends. Everything is designed to give to our inner world its maximum expression through innovative fabrics, embroideries, feathers and glitter. This designer tells us about the journey from the world of the law to the world of fashion accompanied by a lot of love.
“I was born in Kingston, Jamaica and immigrated to the United States when I was 7 years old. When I was 14, I told my mother I wanted to be a fashion designer and she suggested I apply to the High School of Fashion Industries which was a free vocational school in New York City. There, I learned how to design and construct garments. However, by my senior year of high school, I had lost my passion for design. The industry seemed so cut throat and structured. I couldn’t imagine myself churning out 40 sketches a day for Ralph Lauren that were based on the current season’s trends and styles. I wanted to design things that I liked, not what was predicted to be trendy. In the fashion industry, you need to work with a well known company first before you can become established enough to launch your own line.
I applied for a Questbridge Scholarship my senior year and won a full scholarship to Claremont McKenna College in California. I majored in History-French thinking that I would go on to study International Law. However, the lawyers who mentored me at a UCLA pre-law program I attended warned me that I would be miserable studying law unless it was really my passion. I graduated college without really knowing what I wanted to do, and began working in business administration. It wasn’t until I encountered the Burning Man scene in New York City that I was inspired to design again. I started to sell my designs to my friends for costume parties and festivals, and also via Etsy. However, I had no intention of doing it full time until I met my now husband Gilles Bonugli Kali, an amazing photographer. His images took my business to the next level and he pushed me to make a living doing what I loved. The first summer I sold my clothing full time I ended up making more than what I made in a year working an office job.
I call my style aesthetic goddess couture, and aim to design garments that allow their wearers to fully express themselves and let their inner goddess shine. We live in a world that tells us that we have to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted by normal society. Seeing people go against this norm and express their individuality is one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed at Burning Man. My goal is to encourage others to feel the same way when they wear Fringe & Epaulette. I design with the intent of creating a magical experience for my clients and those who view them.”
How does the place you live in affect your design? I am so lucky to live in New York City and to be surrounded by so many creative, friendly people! New York’s Burning Man scene is what inspired me to design in the first place. I remember walking into my first Burner party March 2012 and seeing party goers wearing feather mohawks, laser cut acrylic bikinis, LED coats, and a range of costumes that blew my mind. There are multiple Burning Man costume events every month in New York and people go all out dressing up for these events. Thus, I’m constantly coming up with new outfits for themed parties.
What’s the future of fashion according to you? I think fashion will start to incorporate more technology such as LEDS and sound reactive clothing. Uniqlo is already doing that with fabric that reacts to moisture and heat from your body.
What’s your next project? I have too many ideas! I have a long list of future designs I want to produce in the next 2 years. The hard part is telling myself to just focus on one concept at a time. My next collection will be designed for flow artists who perform with fire and LED flow toys. I think the sequin fabric I use will really emphasize the individual style of each artist. LEDS and fire reflecting off the fabric will look amazing! I’m looking forward to doing some epic photoshoots!