Provo Fashion Week gives local designers a boost



Natalie grew up in a small farming town in central Utah. Since her family didn’t have TV or video games to keep her busy, she spent her time making clothes for her dolls and putting together fashion shows with her sister.

And slowly, the small-town girl developed dreams of making it big in the fashion world.

“It’s weird, because I’m from a little country town where everyone’s like, farmers,” said Natalie Workman, a native of Spring City, Utah. “We didn’t even have TV or fashion magazines, so I’m not really sure how I got it in my head that I wanted to do fashion design. …(But) it’s always what I thought I would do.”

Workman’s career progressed from making clothes for her dolls to graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. And, like many other local designers, she has become involved in Provo Fashion Week as a way to further her career.

“When you think of the fashion industry you think of L.A., or especially New York, or foreign places, but you definitely don’t think of Provo,” said Workman, who currently does custom work under Natalie Wynn Design, “So we want to give an opportunity to all of the people in Utah that kind of don’t have that.”

Workman was one of the producers of this fall’s Provo Fashion Week, a semiannual event that started up last spring. She said the first two events were so well received, even selling out a few shows, that they have decided to keep it going.

“There are a lot of fashion designers around, but people in the community aren’t aware of them,” she said. “But I think the Provo community especially is very supportive of local talent, so I think we just want to get awareness of the designers and help them get a start.”

The event features multiple fashion shows with collections of all kinds, from bridal to ready-to-wear to kids’ fashion. There is a show for already established designers and a separate one for up-and-coming designers.

For Carli Randolf, a BYU student from South Texas studying recreation management, Provo Fashion Week was just what she needed to get started.

“I did it as, like, when am I ever going to get the opportunity to be in a fashion show?” she said.

She said she had always enjoyed making her own clothes, but never thought it was something she could do as a career. After entering the up-and-coming show during spring and being invited back for fall, she has decided to continue pursuing fashion after she graduates.

“My big dream is to have a line of clothes (in) Anthropologie,” she said. “That’s my dream right now. If I get there, that will be awesome. If not, then I’m sure another big dream will come my way before then.”

Workman said the main goal of Provo Fashion Week is to get the designers’ names out and give them an opportunity to build a portfolio. She said most designers begin their careers doing custom work, but hopefully the show will give them experience building their own line of clothes.

“It has definitely given me at least an outlet. Something to do with my work,” said Kailee Brown, a BYU student from Kaysville who also presented her collection in the up-and-coming show. “Because before…I was just kind of making clothes for myself. So it’s a really good way to start out, even just to build your portfolio and get work out there and let everybody know what you want to do.”

Brown said her mom always tried to get her into sewing as a kid, but she never enjoyed it. It wasn’t until she took a fashion merchandising class in high school for college credit that she fell in love with it and decided to continue pursing it as a career. She hopes to either go on to fashion design school or get a job with a company doing designing.

Workman and Randolf both said they love fashion design because it’s a chance to create something from nothing.

“I love that you take fabric, and it’s just like a flat piece…(and) it’s not really anything until you make something out of it,” Workman said. “Just (that) you start with nothing and you can create something completely new that no one’s ever seen before. …I like fashion because it’s a part of you every day. You’re wearing something, and I think it’s the most obvious form of self-expression.”

Workman said her collection at Provo Fashion Week was inspired by the architecture in Paris. She is currently doing custom work on her website, but she is working on to put together her own clothing line and have it sold in stores.

The designers all agreed on advice that they would give to hopeful designers.

“I think you just have to try things out,” Randolf said. “I’m pretty shy, I don’t like to get out in front of people. But if I had never done that I wouldn’t have ever known what I was capable of. There are of course many things that I would change about the things that I did, like (in) this line there’s a lot of stuff I’m unhappy with. But I would never have been happy with any of it if I had never done it. So I think just get out there and try something and see if it works.”

For more information on these designers, see their websites: Natalie Wynn Design, Carli Randolf, Kailee Brown.

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