Fall Forward

 In Feature, Style

An exclusive preview of St. Louis based desginers’ Fall 2014 collections.


IN THE WORLD OF FASHION, Fall 2014 is hot on our heels with new trends and designers to watch and runway shows to see. Designers and showrooms everywhere have spent the past few months prepping their collections for the big season, and many will make their debut at fashion week events across the globe. Our local designers are no exception. We caught up with Emily Koplar of Wai Ming, Anna Friss of Blue Bird Apparel, Paulie Gibson, Laura Kathleen and Suzanne Lay who offered ALIVE an exclusive preview of their newest collections.

Contemporary and cool, Wai Ming has grown into a brand to watch on the local and national circuit, and its designer, Emily Koplar, couldn’t be happier. Fresh off a stellar launch of her spring line of fashion-forward daywear, Koplar has hit the ground running in 2014, announcing most recently that Neiman Marcus will begin carrying Wai Ming as a test buy in its top stores.

Koplar is currently working on the launch of her fall collection, inspired by a color palette she knew she wanted to address: the new neutrals. “I liked the idea of starting the season with matte fabrics in shades of gray in easy silhouettes,” Koplar says. “Then, further into the season, it gets a little more structured and glossy with mixed metals and gold accents.” The effect is a modern, metropolitan take on traditional English-style winter wear. “I imagined a posh Londoner going to the English countryside, but instead of the traditional tweeds and wool cable-knit sweaters, she’s wearing more graphic, modern and metallic versions of those countryside staples.”

The fabrication starts casual—sleek Japanese jersey and novelty knits from Australia in matte finishes hint of an athletic influence—a Wai Ming signature. Later in the season, structure and architectural elements reign supreme, featuring metallic leather, gold tweed and embossed and coated cable knit.

Always making moves in the area of menswear, Paulie Gibson’s fall collection speaks to fashion and fairytale royalty. The “Sovereign” collection plans to pick up where 2013’s “Paulie Boys” left off—adding a bit of luxe and a dash of glamour to Gibson’s signature unconventional menswear aesthetic.

Influences include fashionable faces of modern royalty, like princes William and Harry, with a whimsical touch of Disney’s classic Prince Charming. “It’s all about accessible luxury, inspired by royalty but interpreted in a very ‘Paulie’ way,” Gibson explains. “It’s my interpretation of royalty throughout history and fiction.” Fabrications include rabbit and fox fur trimmings and eggplant leather. The collection will include signature separates, denim, outerwear and active wear—a complete stock of fashion-forward staples for the modern man.

Anna Friss’ hip and edgy Blue Bird Apparel is always pushing the envelope, taking current, market-topping trends to the next level. And 2014 is set to be big with new blogger collaborations, a revamped brick and mortar storefront on the Delmar Loop and the launch of Loop Style, a social media project headed by Friss featuring fashion and street style in and around U City-area boutiques.

Her fall collection mixes creativity and practicality with a collection inspired by the ’50s and ’60s. “The inspiration is sort of ‘mod-meetsgoth-Barbie,'” Friss says. “[It’s] edgy with a twist of youthful humor.” Key pieces include a sexy collared pencil dress, a “meow-hiss” tunic and a retro bomber that reads “Hearts No Good” across the back shoulders. The color palette is mostly black, juxtaposed with trimmings and details in a fun bubblegum pink. Fabrics include chiffon, leather, twill, satin, denim, terry and jersey with lace trim accents.

“Project Runway All-Stars” glamour-girl Laura Kathleen will offer her clients a continuation of choice items from her Fall 2013 collection in the 2014 season, with an infusion of more colors and prints. Picking up where she left off, she has created a variety of sophisticated and sexy wardrobe additions for the fashion-conscious woman. “My inspiration is always making clothes that women want to wear,” Laura says. “I try to keep the message behind the clothing simple and consistent—a woman can be glamorous, modern and sexy all at the same time.”

True to her aesthetic, Laura will showcase figure-flattering pieces in neoprene and ponte knit. Slim-cut pants with accent panels, mod cuts, sassy dresses and structured loose tops will all be available for the upcoming season. A key signature piece includes a black and tan caplet jacket made of neoprene and trench twill with a mock neck collar equipped with a metal buckle—edgy and chic.

The trio team of Suzanne Lay has been hard at work creating a complete fall collection for the modern woman. Inspired by a seven-day adventure in Seattle, it’s designed to have everything a woman’s wardrobe could possibly need—fashionable separates, business wear, basics and dresses in a variety of silhouettes and fabrics made to mix and match. Elevated fabrications like silk charmeuse, cotton satine and wool give the collection an upscale yet accessible feel. Colors include bold shades of pink and crimson.

“We are growing up as a brand, becoming more lifestyle-oriented and a bit less rocker-chic,” says COO Shannon Dougherty. “We aim to cater to real women—moms, professionals and travelers who want to look fashionable and effortless.” The entire collection is created locally, and will make its debut at fashion week events in St. Louis, Phoenix and Seattle.


4867_1573.jpgLaura Kathleen

4866_1573.jpgPaulie Gibson

4865_1573.jpgLaura Kathleen runway image by Mark Schwigen.

4864_1573.jpgPaulie Gibson

4956_1573.jpgWai Ming

4957_1573.jpgBlue Bird Apparel


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