Designer Spotlight: Alberta Girl Kelly Madden

by Sabrina Maddeaux on Oct 1st, 2010 in Designers

One of the best from the West, Kelly Madden is a designer to watch! Spending the first 18 years of her life in Bluesky, a small northern Alberta hamlet, Kelly attended school in a neighboring town with a population of just over three thousand. Without the ubiquitous fashion influences and resources of a big city, Kelly still found ways to nuture her passion and talent for design. As a young woman, Kelly spent much of her time sketching, altering garments, and making outfits for her dolls. Honing her craft with anything she could get her hands on, Kelly would cut and sew outfits bought by her dad. By the time college came around, there was only one obvious course of study for Kelly. She enrolled in the Fashion Design and Apparel Production program at Marvel College in Edmonton.

Graduating in 2002, Kelly spent her first years in the “real world” drafting patterns and sewing for a local mascot company. She also tailored uniquely patterned scrubs for fashionistas of the nursing world. Looking to fulfill her immense creativity and showcase her true skill, Kelly started her own design company in 2007. She now sells her women’s clothing collections to local boutiques and creates custom items for clients. Kelly was also one of the featured designers in this spring’s Western Canada Fashion Week, receiving rave reviews for the designs she sent down the runway. The increasingly popular designer is growing a reputation for unconventional rock and roll twists on classic looks. Oozing a subtle sexiness, her collections are definitely speeding down the fast track to big time success!

Here’s my interview with the fabulous Kelly:


1.What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion to me is a way to express yourself in everyday life. The way you present yourself speaks volumes. Fashion is also an art form, whether you are displaying the art or just admiring it, I think it’s a beautiful thing.


2.What drew you to fashion, and specifically to starting your own line?

I don’t know if there was anything specific, it’s just something I have always been interested in. When I was young I would sew for my dolls, and even make my own paperdolls complete with a huge wardrobe! Starting my own line has always been my goal. After spending 3.5 years at a job that just wasn’t for me, I finally bit the bullet, quitting my job and focusing on my line full time.

3.Who or what inspires your designs?

Again, there isn’t anything specific. I suppose I draw a lot of inspiration from vintage fashions as well as punk and rock and roll.

4.Use three words to describe your designs.

Classic, edgy, sophisticated.


5.What is the most challenging part of being a designer?

Time. There is never enough when you are doing every aspect of the business alone!


6.What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?

A silver snake print dress (laughs)! When I was in junior high. And yes, I wore it to school!

7.Describe your personal style.

My style changes depending on the day and where I am going. I will wear super girly things (like summer dresses), very casual things (like a hoodie and a nice pair of jeans) or very elegant and sophisticated (like a black lace dress). But I usually will throw something studded in there just to add a bit of rock and roll.

8.What is your favorite fashion trend of all time?

The ‘New look’ by Dior in the 50s. So elegant and classic.

9.In your opinion, what is the biggest fashion faux-pas?

I suppose the worst thing would simply be wearing items of clothing that don’t suit your body type, or just straight up don’t fit! Just because it’s in style doesn’t mean you should wear it.

Also, yoga pants!! They are not dress pants! They are meant for exercising, lounging, or in my case sleeping. They are in no way meant to be worn to the office or a special even (laughs). Seriously.

And I have seen way too many people in tights that are so thin and sheer that are meant to be worn under a dress or tunic, but are wearing them as pants!

10.What do you think is the most underrated item of clothing or accessory?

The pencil skirt. It is flattering to most, versatile and classic.

11.Where do you see yourself as a designer in five years?

I hope to have my own store here in Edmonton as well as selling my line to stores across Canada and possibly abroad.

12.What advice would you give to aspiring designers?

It’s hard work, and to be taken seriously you really need to put your all into it. I believe practice makes perfect and you should really focus on your technical abilities (unless you can afford to hire someone to do it for you!). Pattern drafting and good sewing are the keys to making a good impression.

Also, just jump in. If this is what your passion is you need to take the risk to follow your dreams.

13.Where can readers buy your clothing?

Awear Style Co (5462 Calgary Trail)

Black & Bold (10826 124th Street)

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