Designer Spotlight: Stephanie Connell
Born and raised on a dairy farm just outside Brockville, ON, Stephanie is a small-town girl at heart with a head for big dreams.
After developing a love for the finer details of art and wardrobe through high school arts courses, ambition and “fashion fury” propelled Stephanie down the path of success. Pushing boundaries and combining art with fashion, she was honored with the prestigious award for Best Design at Fanshawe College’s (London, ON) Unbound Fashion Show for graduating students in 2010.
At age 20, armed with a powerful ability to express beauty through fabrics, Stephanie took the big leap of starting her own line, Stephanie Connell Designs. Her collections boast innovative couture-inspired designs made from the finest fabrics. Her designs are on the modern-edge of fashion, yet manage to to retain a beautiful eternal elegance and classic richness.
With her line gaining more attention by the day and her driven attitude, it seems nothing can stop Stephanie now. And that’s fine by me, because I love her sophisticated designs!
I was lucky enough to pick the mind of the talented Stephanie in this interview:
1.What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion can express various things such as your how you feel, where you’re going, what you want, your status, your age, your energy, the list goes on. Seeing what someone wears and how they wear it can tell you many things about someone. However, for me in the process of creating fashion and my overview of fashion is an artistic expression, an experiment, and beautiful creation. Fashion is a challenge and reward.
2.What drew you to fashion, and specifically to starting your own line?
A lot of times you hear of cases of people knowing what they have wanted to do since they were young. The truth is I didn’t know what I truly wanted to do until I was in my last couple of years in high school. Although, my whole life I had a creative mind and loved anything that incorporated some sort of artistic vision. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I narrowed down my choice to fashion. Having my own line allows me to set my work apart from all other fashion related jobs I do. It gives me the freedom to take the various elements of fashion research (trends, consumer, market, construction, fabrication) and create it in my own technique.
3.Who or what inspires your designs?
Fashion is a continuous cycle. Designer such as John Galliano, Giorgio Armani, and Alexander McQueen are designers I look up to specifically. These great designers freely express through fashion and create pieces that are memorable and intriguing. All designers look to other designers for inspiration. However, other subjects besides fashion come into play for inspiration. It could be anything to be honest it just depends how that object affected you, if it affected you, in that point and time. I do find a lot of inspiration from architecture and paintings.
Innovation, sophistication, and extreme presence.
5.What is the most challenging part of being a designer?
The worst thing is hearing someone knock you down, but you need to realize besides the fact that this is a “tough love” industry that everyone has a different love in art. As artists we must appreciate and respect that.
6.What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
I can’t even remember all the sketched designs that I used to do there were so many of them. So remembering the first one would be …well a pretty good memory on my part. However, I can recall my very first design that I created. It was my prom dress. It was definitely different from what I could find in stores. Not having any experience with sewing or pattern making I was very lucky to have had a dear friend help me out in the process of making my sketched design come to life.
7.Describe your personal style.
Designing is a creation of art for me. I admire the extravagance of couture styles and always use them when looking to inspiration. I always include a rich look with a powerful presence and love to use the finest fabrics. I’m only satisfied with innovative designs that make people question “how and where did you think of that” or “how did you make that”.
8.What is your favorite fashion trend of all time?
This is possibly the hardest question to answer. It is impossible for me to say what my favourite is simply because I love so many looks from the past and we continually reuse and find our inspiration from past successors. However, two trends I can narrow down to are over the top hats from the Edwardian period and rich framing collars from the Victorian times.
9.In your opinion, what is the biggest fashion faux-pas?
There is never only one in my books. Why? Because fashion is viewed differently to everyone…. and the fashion no no’s can be various and yes there are lots. The one that I could say sums up my view on the fashion faulty is the group I classify as TACKY NOT TRENDY. The following are examples of this grouping: Wearing your underwear beyond your outerwear, crocks, and a bad hair dye job.
10.What do you think is the most underrated item of clothing or accessory?
HATS! They never get the appreciation they should. I rarely have seen them worn unless it’s a necessity as they would be for the winter weather. They can be so much fun and are extremely fashionable. They come in various styles and can suit various fashion categories. Not to mention they are attention grabbers!
11.Where do you see yourself as a designer in five years?
In five years I see myself being more knowledgeable. I am very new to the industry and how it works is very complex. Things can be done in so many different ways in this industry and it’s ALWAYS changing. Understanding how it works will benefit my design work. My goal is to feel more comfortable with my overall choices in what I do in all areas of the fashion world. Of course, I will never stop learning. I am quite excited to see where I will be in five years. The world has so much to offer!
12.What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Never question your love for what you do. Never question your ideas or your thoughts. Be a leader not a follower. As a designer you can’t fear the unknown. Just do it and do it well.
13.Where can readers buy your clothing?
Currently my clothing can be ordered through the www.sfconnell.com website. Orders are personalized for my clients. Whether they are interested in purchasing a piece that is already designed or if they are wanting me to design something new for them I will do so in a custom fit so the garment is to their individual body shape.