This past weekend, Iantha Lane, president of the e.Lane Group, hosted The Social Runway Fashion Show at the Madison Building Rooftop Terrace and Loft in Downtown Detroit. This international fashion show was live-streamed and gave Detroit socialites a grand experience with live music, VIP seating, a cash bar and more. The models sashayed around the runway wearing clothing from designers such as Under Amour, Cynthia LaMaide, and Designed by Beely.
Rolling out was able to get a personal fashion 101 session with designers Cynthia LaMaide and Beely Huang and here’s what they taught us.
What made you want to get into fashion? When did you start?
Beely: I didn’t get into fashion professionally until a couple of years ago, but it’s something I’ve been interested in since elementary. I found a sewing machine in my parents’ house and started making basic things like jeans that you cut up and turn into a purse; I think every girl in the ’90s did that. I was traveling a lot and I’m a teacher so I didn’t think it was time, but I made time and I think it’s been great so far.
Lamaide: I started sewing when I was about 13 and I saw a neighbor of mine sew a dress in one day. I knew that was something I had to do so I bought patterns and started sewing; I started sewing all through high school. I even took clothing design in college.
What skills are needed to become a fashion designer?
B: You really need to have passion; passion drives consistency and you need to be persistent. It’s gotten me this far. You also have to have a clear end goal and path as well. Everyone needs that technical skill of trial and error to get it done right. Lastly, if you can, go to school and if you can’t, try to learn it.
L: I think the most important skill for me was sewing and being able to make the garments, putting them on people to see how people move and dance in the pieces. Later on I had people sewing for me and because I knew how to sew, I was able to teach them.
What type of woman are your pieces created for?
B: My target audience is for women who range in ages but what we all have in common is that we all need to be professional, but like to have fun with our style. Professional women are always running around and they need to be comfortable. These are women who desire modesty, but also a bit of edge. I do custom sizing as well and it’s very affordable.
L: My pieces are for a woman who likes one of a kind clothing and more art aspect clothing. I create the fabric and the garments and my customers can range from 15 like the young girl I met at an art show to 83 like the woman I created a sexy piece for.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when you create these pieces?
B: I’ve always been drawn to natural things. Not just natural fibers, but also the natural pallets. My whole purpose is this—I create classic looks that are reimagined. So when I think about classic clothings, I think about timeless pieces or when I think of the colors that really stand the test of time, down to natural hues and natural tones, that inspires me. Also in terms of things lasting for a very long time, I look for quality material such as 100% linen or 100% cotton, silks, and wools. That is something that ties us to classic looks and natural things. That is what I’m inspired by.
L: I like to learn new techniques. When I moved to Michigan I started knitting and weaving and now I’m doing a lot of printing and hand painting. I have a technique called marbling where I create the fabric first then drape it over a mannequin. That is how I make the clothing. I’ve been making clothes for a long time so I know how they move and feel on the body. I like more feminine and romantic looks; flowy looks and lines that extenuate and enhance the body. That is what I look for when I’m draping the fabric. I love nature and that’s where I get a lot of the colors from when I dye the fabric. For the marbling, I look at flowers and my felting is inspired by flowers and nature too.
Lamaide, you’re an artist as well. What kind of art do you create?
L: I like painting and my favorite is 3-dimensional so I make wall hangings and use fabrics on canvases to make it 3-dimensional. I’ve done a lot of art shows. I’ve done the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C a few times and some other big art shows around the country. Right now I sale wholesale to shops too.
Beely, tell us why you use Nunavut seal furs.
B: Nunavut seal fur is something I use in my accessories. Seal fur is very sustainable. It’s harvested by locals in the community who need it to survive. They don’t have a cattle ranch or vegetables growing in the north so they live off of the land and what they have access to. Every part of the seal is used, down to the bones and nails for tools and jewelry. Anything they have left, they will ship it to the south of Canada as a supplement of income to make money off of the industries in the north that we lack in the south.
Do you hand make your pieces?
B: Right now it’s me by myself from pattern drafting to picking out the fabrics, cutting, sewing, everything. Sometimes it’s a lot because I’m also a teacher, but it’s still a one-woman show. My pieces are on the affordable side for the quality you are getting. You can purchase them off of my website www.designedbybeely.com. In the up and coming months, they will be available in a few stores in Canada.
L: I used to make all my items but I’m from Miami and when I lived there, I would get large orders; orders up to 1,000 pieces. I had factories produce the clothes for the large orders. Now, I’m back to making them myself. It takes me 3 to 5 days to make each piece. I can create whatever I want and it’s fun. You can find my pieces on my website at www.lamaide.com.
How do you stay up to date with the trends?
B: I actually don’t try to follow the trends at all. I did an interview and they asked me who was my favorite designer, but I couldn’t give them an answer. I’m inspired by what I see, especially in my mom’s closet; 60s and 70s attire which is a very modest look, but I try to update it in ways that I think a modern, professional woman would wear it making it playful and a little bit more edgier to add to that vintage style. I like to do my own thing. If I make something on trend, it’s by fluke.
L: I think when you’re creating in an industry, you have to be open to the ideas that are out there and the energy. You can feel what is coming next and what people are looking for. I look in magazines and art books sometimes too. I don’t follow too many trends though. I make it if I want to make it and it’s usually right.
What made you want to be a part of The Social Runway Fashion Show?
B: I just started to show my pieces after my first experience about 2 to 3 months ago here in Toronto and when I participated in that, Vancouver Fashion Week saw my profile on the event’s website and asked me to be a part of their show as well. I had a really great time. It was a great way to promote myself, it was a great experience to share my work, and work with people in the industry. When I was contacted for this show in Detroit, I thought, “Why not?” This is a great opportunity to open up to an audience beyond Canada and to do something new. I’ve learned to take chances when the opportunity comes.
L: I love Madison Building and everything seems pretty nice. I thought it would be fun; I love doing things in Detroit.
Is it easy being a designer in a fashion show? Why or why not?
L: It’s pretty easy for me. In Miami, I worked as a fashion stylist for a long time. I’ve worked on films and I’ve always been dressing people so it’s pretty easy for me.
How do you feel about the Social Runway Fashion Show tonight now that it’s over?
B: I just finished my portion of the show for The Social Runway and everything was fantastic. The rooftop of the Madison Building is gorgeous and everything was more than I could’ve asked for.
L: I thought it was great. The models did a great job and were very pretty. The weather was very nice and the venue was beautiful.
What are your future goals for your fashion line?
B: I see Designed by Beely branching out into the male market because right now I’m only into women’s wear. So hopefully in the future, you’ll see men’s wear.
L: I want to continue developing new techniques, felting, screening, and block printing. I want people to wear all my creations; it’s been a lot of fun and I want to continue having fun.
Check out pictures below from The Social Runway
Photo Credit: Bre’Ann White