In case you missed her at New Orleans Fashion Week, Birmingham, Alabama based designer Heather Williams is the creator of Tallulah Faire, a clothing and accessories line that embraces bold prints and color. Slow Southern Style was able to chat with her about her work, who the Tallulah Faire woman is, and to hear about her experience as a fashion week participant.
1. What was your experience with NOLA Fashion Week like?
Fabulous, as always! This was my second season with NOLAFW, so it was great to see “old” friends from October and meet new designers this go ’round. It was especially wonderful to see designers who showed last season show again because I can see the growth that has taken place in their vision and perspective. NOLAFW has also grown; new ideas were introduced, new venues were used, etc. I’m glad that they’re trying new things and seeing what fits and what doesn’t. I’m so proud to be a part of a group of people who want to support artists and encourage fashion in the Big Easy.
2. What was your main reason for participating? What were you hoping to gain, and was it a success?
I participate every season because NOLAFW is one of the few Fashion Weeks where designers are chosen not based on commercial potential but on point-of-view and creativity. Most are very sellable and have created quite a following, but that’s more of an effect of showing, not a prerequisite. I participate because I believe in supporting artists and cultivating talent, which I think is the platform of the week-long event. I also participate in the Fashion Market so that commerce is achieved. Every designer wants a customer to not only love their work, but take it home as well. Fashion Market provides shoppers with the opportunity to purchase apparel and accessories that may not be available in New Orleans at any other time. I’m hoping that my partnership with NOLAFW is a long and successful one!
3. Given the amount of press of more established brands (Billy Reid, Alabama Chanin) where do you think the future of Southern fashion designers lies?
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: fashion is becoming regionalized, tailored to local flavor and expression. I believe that we’ll see a major progression in the next five years of major cities all hosting their own successful, large-scale Fashion Weeks. Nashville has been doing it for years, Austin for a while now, and Birmingham for two seasons. And I’m so excited! I would argue that the South has the most culture, the most tradition, the deepest roots to turn out designers who are uniquely regional and capture the essence of who their clients are. Both Billy Reid (who is not from Florence, but hey, he gets us) and Alabama Chanin are always my go-to names when I’m proving this point. And the best part? They do very well nationwide, which shows that Southern designers create pieces that fit the Southern woman but are not limited to the Southern woman. Forget New York… Southern designers need to build where they are, pour into their hometowns and heritage.
4. If you could define the quintessential Southern aesthetic and attitude, what would it be?
Well I think it’s evident from my previous answer that our attitude is pride in where we’re from, but in a nice way. I think we are doing a great job of holding the past in one hand and honoring our families and traditions, while looking forward to the future and holding progressivism and change in the other. And I believe that our aesthetic embodies this. We still love our seersucker and sun dresses, but can put on a pair of Jimmy Choo platforms and a high-low hemline skirt in a hot minute. The Southern woman isn’t limited to just one archetypal “look” anymore. We get to be a different person every day of the week if we choose.
5. What’s the Talluah girl like? Where would she wear a dress, for example? And can you describe the inspiration behind the two collections?
“Tallulah” is Native American and means ‘leaping waters’, which is the best way to describe a Tallulah girl. She’s natural but fierce and beautiful in a timeless way. Her energy is refreshing and she’s every girl’s best friend. I really try to design pieces that reflect these images; that’s why there will be a few very sweet sun dresses mixed with structured pieces with more powerful hues.
A Tallulah girl wears a dress every day! Both collections have casual looks that are great for day, as well as snappier dresses that are perfect for a night on the town. Looks from the Tallulah line are meant to be closet pieces that you live your life in, not pieces that are only pulled out for one event. The inspiration for the Spring ’12 collection came from playing with the idea of being both bold and bashful. We all have our sweet ‘ballet flats and nude lipstick’ days, but we also have our ‘I could conquer the world today!’ days. You should have apparel for both! The Fall ’12 collection inspiration came from my obsession with rich fabrics. In the summers I prefer light cottons and easy silks, but my true joy – my favorite textiles- are luxurious leathers and wools and suedes. The hand is heavier and allows for superb structure and subtle details. I am so excited to share the full Fall Collection in the months ahead.
The Tallulah S/S ‘12 line is currently carried at the following retailers:
Molly Green – http://www.mollygreenboutique.com/
Abeille NOLA – http://www.abeillenola.com/
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