Designer Genes

STL designer and reality star Laura Kathleen talks fashion, wedding plans and gossip straight from the set of “Project Runway All Stars.”

 

There’s no doubt that Laura Kathleen Planck is a producer’s dream-with a face made for television, a petite figure and, of course, her signature glossy-blond locks. But it’s what you don’t see that makes the two-time reality TV star truly captivating. After just a few minutes with Planck, it’s obvious that the producers of “Project Runway,” and most recently, “Project Runway All Stars” had plenty of reasons to cast her. One could easily speculate that the biggest motivating factor, besides her proven talent, just might be her candor.

Though petite in stature, the design powerhouse holds absolutely nothing back—a godsend for ratings-hungry producers determined to keep viewers’ eyes glued to the set. Planck was just as forthcoming when she recently dished with ALIVE on nearly everything—from her first date with her fiance (at a fave STL establishment) to her ambitious (and quite probable) five-year plan.

 

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Planck on Project Runway All Stars

ALIVE: With all of the amazing opportunities you’ve had come your way, do you find it difficult to find time for design?
LK:
You know, what’s funny is how many of my sourcing problems have been solved since “Project Runway” and “All Stars.” I was taking so much time to figure out how to get my business going and how to lower the price point and increase the quality, and be able to get to the point that I was stable enough as a business to go to market. That was when all the work was being done. Now, I actually feel like I have more time to design‰ÛÓI sketch, send them off to my factory, and all the work is done there. Yeah, I have to approve samples and make sure everything’s good, and still source my fabrics and things like that, but finally finding a factory that meets my price point and is great and dependable has really eased the stress of my business. I do miss the creation of sewing and making my own patterns, but as you build your company, clearly you can’t do that anymore. Your roles change as your company grows, and I think I’m finally getting into the role I wanted to be in as a small designer in St. Louis.

ALIVE: Speaking of design, your cuffs from the LoveArmour Collection are getting a lot of attention, especially locally. Will jewelry continue to be a focus for you in the future?
LK:
Absolutely. We just launched on laurakathleen.com. We have all of the cuffs up for sale and some really cool new necklaces. The whole reason I did LoveArmour was the idea of “the armor of love.” I was in a place where I had just [come out of ] a really horrible relationship, so my original intention in designing it was to protect women from bad love. I kind of love that idea, even now that I’m getting married. It’s a symbol of positivity.

ALIVE: What (or who) are you currently inspired by?
LK: My fiance and I have had a long conversation about this. Women like to deny that they’re inspired or compelled to dress for the men in their lives. My fiance has pointed out that my fall 2013 collection really represents the kinds of clothes he likes to see me in. I was initially like, “I’m not designing this for you!” but he said, “I think it’s just natural that when you’re in love with somebody, you want to make them happy.” I typically do a lot of flowy things, and it’s shocking, but my fiance? [laughing] likes me in really tight clothes, so I’d say there’s a little more body con in my designs. I’m not saying it’s all credited to him, but it’s natural that my mind‰ÛÓobviously with the wedding plans and everything‰ÛÓis very wrapped up in Daniel. But otherwise, the palette of the collection is really going back to everything that inspires me and the color scheme of our home‰ÛÓwhite, ivory, gold and black. Also, [the addition of ] printed sequins; the actual prints on the fabrics are sequins, which I really love.

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Laura Kathleen Planck

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Project Runway All Stars

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Laura Kathleen Planck

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Laura Kathleen Planck and fiance Danny Baker

ALIVE: Congratulations on your recent engagement! Where did you meet your fiance?
LK: Of course, good old St. Louis‰ÛÓI met him at Bar Napoli. We were actually set up. At first, I really wasn’t in the mood to meet anybody. I was like, “No, no, I’m single, I’m fine,” and the funny thing is, he didn’t want to meet me either. Literally, though, it was love at first sight. We actually got engaged six months after we met. It’s funny, they always say when you completely stop looking, that’s when you actually find someone.

ALIVE: The engagement photos (by local photographer Susan Jackson) were stunning. You wore a dress and jewelry of your own design; will you be designing your wedding gown as well?
LK: My wedding gown is actually my grandmother’s on my dad’s side, and I’m redesigning it just to be a little more modern. The gown is from the early ’40s, and I’m so excited about it because I lost my grandmother when I was in the fourth grade, and she was the person I am most like. So it’s cool to kind of have a piece of her at the wedding. For the bridesmaid’s outfits, we’re doing a very limited line of Laura Kathleen Bridesmaids, which I’m also excited about.

ALIVE: What else can you tell us about your wedding plans?
LK: You can follow the planning of my wedding on mylifetime.com, so that’s really fun. You get to see how I’m planning the wedding, and I hope it gives some national exposure to different places in St. Louis. Our wedding is at The Fabulous Fox, which is such a cool place, and people who aren’t from St. Louis have no idea. It will be on mylifetime.com starting this month, leading up to our wedding on April 6.

ALIVE: What’s your five-year plan?
LK: I’d like to still be in St. Louis, since my business and my soon-to-be husband’s business are both here. I’d really love Laura Kathleen to be picked up not only by a large number of boutiques, but a large retailer as well. I would definitely like to be at a point where I could hire more St. Louisans. Right now, I’m hiring so much outside of St. Louis because it’s a lot of manual labor, but whether it is for accounting, a CEO or even creative positions, I’d love to be at the point where I could give back more jobs to St. Louis. I’d like to have a first baby within five years, so I’m trying to get all that to a point where we could start on the kids.

 

Photo credit: Photos by A+E Networks; Engagement photo by Susan Jackson

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