2015 New Orleans Fashion Week’s Top Design Winner
A Passion for Fashion – Q & A with 2015 New Orleans Fashion Week’s Top Design Winner, Kristine Pichon
Kristine Pichon is not afraid of hard work or taking risks. A strong proponent of taking advantage of every opportunity, Kristine poured experience and talent into a collection to showcase at New Orleans Fashion Week Top Design Competition. The judging was based on creativity, originality, craftsmanship, and the decision was unanimous. Kristine swept away both the audience and the judges with her inspired collection winning the Yelp People’s Choice Award and the Top Design Competition.
Recently, I caught up with Kristine Pichon, to talk about her designs, Fashion Week experience and some advice for other emerging designers.
Q. Have you always been into fashion?
A. Yes! As a child my Grandmother introduced me and my twin sister to a world of creativity. She bought me my first sewing machine at age 5 and I continued to have an itch to create and come up with ways of making unique pieces. As a twin, my mom and grandmother always sought out unique fashions to “show us off,” so this focus on dressing alike peaked my interest in fashion.
Q. Share your fashion background. How has it prepared you for your career in fashion?
A. It started with my great-grandmother on my mom’s side. She made many wedding dresses and was known for creating her garments without patterns. That skill set was passed down to my grandmother, who taught me the basic skills of sewing. As I got older I continued to enjoy sewing, as well as drawing, designing, and creating unique outfits. Before I enrolled in Parsons in New York, I attended Xavier University of New Orleans to study chemistry, with the goal of working in the beauty industry to develop perfumes and cosmetics. But plans changed and I transferred to fine art, which introduced me to Parsons as the path I was suppose to take to fulfill my fashion career.
After graduating from Xavier I attended Parson’s, which gave me both the technical and business knowledge of the fashion industry. After living and working in NYC for a period, I decided it was time to come home to New Orleans and see if I could build my career here. Although I knew I’d face some challenges trying to build my design business in New Orleans, but having the love and support has helped me to persevere.
Q. What inspires your style and design esthetic?
A. My influence comes from an era in the 50's when people knew how to dress. I also add a modern twist to my garments that are uniquely fashion forward but still wearable. I always think about the woman and how she wants to feel, what she is doing, and where she is going. Music with Mood and good beats play a part in inspiring how I create my designs… I love listening to Sade!!!!
Winning NOFW’s Top Design Competition is such a big accomplishment!
Q. How did you prepare for your runway show?
A. I started working on my collection six months before I was officially selected to compete in NOFW Top Design Competition. I was determined to be prepared and have a solid collection. My idea for the fall collection started with me developing a mood board to show my theme, colors, and style. I would swatch different fabrics that had pops of color and soft textures that went along with the theme I developed, “Chic Fall Sunset”. For me it was important to be prepared and have a well thought out collection. Time managed was very important, and I never lose focus of my goal and end result!
Q. How would you describe your overall New Orleans Fashion Week experience?
A. It was something I needed at this time to show exactly what type of designer I am. It was exciting and surreal that I was the winner. I went into the competition with the idea that I just wanted to show my designs and have fun, which I did. But winning was icing on the cake! I felt like ‘You can make your career dreams come true.’ It was validating to be recognized for my hard work; I felt it really paid off. New Orleans Fashion Week is a great event to help emerging designers who want to take their design career to the next level by showcasing their fashions and building their brand.
Q. What advice would you give to an emerging designer?
A. Stay focused, bide time wisely, and construct strong pieces that tell a story of a collection.
Q. What have been the biggest challenges you have experienced in your design career?
A. Rejection is the biggest challenge, but it made me stronger. In 2002 I went on 12 interviews with design companies in New York and was turned away by all of them. It was a hard because doubt starts to kick in, but I realized I was just out of school and needed some experience under my belt and decided to get out and work for myself. It’s been a long road, but moving in the direction I maintained hope. I love designing and have a passion for it. And, no matter what obstacles I face I continue to take advantage of every opportunity I am given!
Q. What makes your designs unique or sets them apart from others?
A. I add my own personal touches to the garment to create a special classic look. For example, my signature flowers and the trimmings add some fun to my pieces. Art plays a big role in giving my garments a statement.
Q. How would you define New Orleans fashion scene?
A. New Orleans has earned the nickname “Hollywood South” and has brought awareness to the city in a new, fashion forward way. New Orleans Fashion Week also has helped to bring national attention as well; and has opened doors to new and upcoming designers. It’s awesome seeing more magazines and events touching base on the trends all over. New Orleans has always had unique style and sound and the fashion scene is another part of our melting pot that has added fabulous flavor!
Q. Best advice you received?
A. I met Tori Burch a few years ago at an event and asked her what advice can you give me as an upcoming designer, she told me, "You have to have a passion for what you do. Be prepared to pay your dues in the industry." I already knew you have to prove yourself and work hard to be a great designer, and that's what I live by!
Interview and article by: Tracee Dundas
Tracee Dundas is a freelance stylist, blogger, fashion editor for New Orleans Magazine and fashion event producer. She is the Founder and Creative Director of Fashion Week New Orleans and the “go-to-gal” for all things fashionable in the Gulf Coast. Tracee hosts a weekly fashion style segment “Fashion Friday” on WVUE Fox 8 sharing the latest trends, styling tips and DIY ideas. She works with nationally known clients such as Lucky Magazine, Essence Magazine, Payless Shoes and The W Hotel and frequently works as a stylist for films, commercials and music videos. Tracee is a regular fashion contributor for FACE Magazine, a graduate of UL and a native of St. Martinville, LA.
Photos by: Stewart Johnston and Gustavo Escanelle