Designers to Watch

 In Feature, Style

Five local fashion designers who should definitely be in your radar


The launch of an expanded Saint Louis Fashion Week this fall not only means attendees will be introduced to more designers and brands—it also brings big opportunities for local and regional design talents to directly connect with industry professionals who can drastically affect their careers. With no shortage of buzz-worthy designtalent in the St. Louis region, a brand’s ability to stand out has become dependent on its role in the national (and international) market.

In an effort to bridge the gap for local designers, STLFW’s first Industry Night will create a platform for local talents to present their collections to a slew of buyers, bloggers, editors and fashion industry professionals on Oct. 3 at Windows on Washington. Hosted by the legendary Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week, this year’s event showcases collections from Genevieve Cortinovis, Anna Friss, Paulie Gibson, Amy Johnson and Suzanne Lay. The event will begin with a private viewing, followed by a fashion presentation that is open to the public. Attendees will then move upstairs for a runway show featuring Eva
Franco, Samantha Pleet, Jennifer Chun and STL’s Laura Kathleen and Wai Ming.

1/ Paulie Gibson
No stranger to the runway, Paulie Gibson draws national attention for his unconventional approach to menswear. His “streetwise sportswear collection with an edge” targets the trend-setting male with a desire to stand out from the crowd, and it’s easy to see why. Full of personality, color and texture, his fabric choices are non-traditional for menswear, including chiffon and silk. Crediting his fashion-forward mother and childhood nanny for fueling his passion, Gibson has been on the fashion scene for quite some time—from a dynamic internship with industry heavyweights Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2 to his experiences as a model, retail professional, stylist and wardrobe consultant. The designer most recently received rave reviews for his Blueprint collection, featured last spring in both Saint Louis and
LA fashion weeks, and Tribe, shown in Phoenix and Knoxville.

2/ Genevieve Cortinovis | Dipped and Dyed
Fashion and design historian Genevieve Cortinovis has made fair-trade fashion her life’s work. After spending time in Cambodia working with artisan organizations, Cortinovis launched Dipped and Dyed in 2012 and began working with artists from around the world to create socially conscious clothing. Each piece in the collection is unique and represents the desire to provide lasting sources of income for at-risk communities. Using natural fabrics and dyes and hand-painted patterns, Cortinovis has set out on the mission to create one-of-a-kind goods that give a new perspective to the term “locally made.”

3/ Amy Johnson | KayOss
KayOss designer Amy Johnson discovered her love for fashion after 13 years in the field of environmental
engineering. Inspired by her travels and studies in Italy, Johnson launched KayOss—a brand deeply rooted in her passion for fine fabrics and femininity. Featuring a variety of silks, knits and weaves that are
body-conscious and soft to the touch, every KayOss piece is sewn in St. Louis by local seamstresses.
Johnson’s passion and zest for life is evident in her personality, as well as her designs—she describes her
collection’s aesthetic as “finding a balance within the chaos of everyday life.” With her eye on market
growth, Johnson has recently expanded KayOss to the retail scenes of Dallas, New Orleans and Phoenix.
The line is available locally at her pop-up boutique in the Central West End.

4/ Anna Friss | Blue Bird Apparel
A passionate designer and true market whiz, Anna Friss has taken Blue Bird Apparel from a dream and a trunk full of samples into the hands of countless boutiques and customers across the country. Youthful, fun and trendy, Friss launched Blue Bird with the help of her mother, a Finnish seamstress whose old-world craftsmanship is a key element of the brand. A series of design and production jobs in Chicago and LA helped Friss hone her skills and make Blue Bird the line it is today—edgy with a classic Americanmade
aesthetic and a solid stance in the fashion market. The designer’s use of various fabrics in eye-caching colors, unique cuts, accents and attention to detail make Blue Bird Apparel one of the most identifiable St. Louis-based fashion brands in town, and her newly opened space on Washington Avenue ensures St. Louisans have easy access to the goods.

5/ Suzanne Lay
Established in spring 2009, Suzanne Lay’s self-titled clothing line represents her lifelong passion for fashion combined with her role as a busy wife and mother. Her glamorous rock 'n' roll-inspired looks are a staple on the St. Louis fashion scene and have previously graced the runways of both STLFW and Phoenix Fashion Week, as well as countless fashion blogs and publications. For its newest collection, the
Suzanne Lay brand moves in a new direction, combining Lay’s signature aesthetic with those of her business partners, Shannon Dougherty and Maggie Bourne. Reflecting the group’s mutual love for the roaring '20s, the collection represents the bold and beautiful lifestyle of the era using silk charmeuse and chiffon, linen, stretch sateen and lace. Suzanne Lay was most recently worn by “The Bachelorette” star Meredith Phillips in the May 2013 issue of People Magazine.

For more info and tickets to STLFW Industry Night, visit



5/ Suzanne Lay


Blue Bird Apparel


Suzanne Lay


Blue Bird Apparel


4348_1396.jpg4/ Anna Friss


Blue Bird Apparel

4346_1396.jpg3/ Amy Johnson

4345_1396.jpgDipped and Dyed

4344_1396.jpgDipped and Dyed

4343_1396.jpg1/ Paulie Gibson



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