Magpie Apparel: Rhiannon Guillet and Sandra PayneNashville Ballet costume designers Rhiannon Guillet and Sandra Payne only started their clothing line, Magpie Apparel, last summer, but word of their unique designs has already spread among local fashionistas. Magpie Apparel debuted in July with a trunk show at Park Café, which earned them a spot in Nashville Fashion Group’s September fashion show, and now Guillet and Payne have a steady stream of clients. “Our ballet jobs are seasonal,” Guillet says, “so it was good to get started in the summer when we had a lot of time to dedicate to Magpie. Now that the Ballet is open again, we’re trying to figure out how to balance both.” “Everything we use is recycled,” says Payne, who trolls thrift stores and flea markets with Guillet for old dresses and shirts to cut up and redesign. “Because of that, all of our clothes are one-of-a-kind. We just don’t have enough of any one material to make five identical dresses.” Customers like knowing their purchases are so special, although the women will repeat a design using different fabric if someone commissions it. Guillet and Payne also make jewelry and belts to turn their clothing into full-blown statements. Their accessories are also recycled—buttons become earrings, earrings become necklaces, scarves become belts—and designs can be made to order. To view clothes by Magpie Apparel, email email@example.com. Shannon Lea When up-and-coming designer Shannon Lea tackled our request to create a fall Nashville look, she knew she wanted to draw from her own crowd, the local music and dance scene. “I wanted to create something a girl could wear out to a show in the fall, and then go dancing afterward,” says Lea. Rather than simply reproduce current trends—“I’m sick of over-the-top ’80s and the boho look,” Lea says—she searched archives for examples of Nashville style from the ’50s and ’60s for inspiration. It was from an old snapshot featuring a posse of ladies sauntering down Printers Alley some 50 years ago that she found the inspiration for the plunging neckline featured in her cream wool design. The 25-year-old also drew from another personal fashion fave, the mods vs. rockers battle in Quadrophenia, but opted not to choose sides, instead incorporating mod-style design in the dress with bold rock colors and an elegant twist. Lea, who began drawing from her grandmother’s fashion catalogs at 5, has since graduated to custom designs and alterations, finally gaining a steady enough clientele to quit her day job. A design internship in Los Angeles last year taught Lea that, if nothing else, she wanted to work for herself, but her studies at O’More have provided her with mad sewing and design skills. For more information, visit shannonleastudios.com. Alexia Abegg Alexia Abegg’s name will ring a bell with those familiar with her father, rock photog Jimmy Abegg, or her sister, Jemina, frontwoman for local punk outfit Be Your Own Pet. The 26-year-old stylist, designer and O’More student is fond of recycled, vintage fabrics and bold prints. Abegg’s designs were influenced early on by her mother, a model and independent designer, who imparted her fashion savvy through osmosis and an abundance of haute couture pubs always around the house. “We grew up eating fashion magazines,” she says. Alexia Abegg’s purse designs can be found at sakidesigns.blogspot.com/.
Shea Steelehad always made things for herself, repurposing vintage scarves and funky pieces of fabric in interesting ways. When she needed to score some extra cash for a trip, she started making belts, which she sold at Local Honey, the small vintage store she owns at 1604 Eighth Ave. S., upstairs from Grimey’s Record Store. Made of lace, silk and other remnants, Steele’s belts are adjustable and can be worn empire style, at the natural waist or at the hips with pants, skirts and dresses. One standout design is a thick piece of off-white lace with metal loops on either end, cinched with a vintage, floral scarf. Steele, who grew up in Memphis, also reworks vintage clothes, which she sells alongside her carefully selected inventory at Local Honey. Molly Lester started making clothes for herself just a year ago. When friends began repeatedly asking, “Where did you get that?,” she began designing for them, too, under the label Space Cadet Fashion. A student at Western Kentucky University with a full-time job at an adhesive factory, Lester somehow finds time to sew on the side. Her dresses are fun and girly—with vibrant colors and punchy prints—but also have that rock ’n’ roll edge. Often designed with an empire waist and an A-line skirt, her dresses are cut for comfort and look best paired with cowboy boots and a cold beer. Lester also designs skirts and alters T-shirts. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Colleen DeGregory approaches fashion design the way she approaches cooking. The co-owner of Mirror Restaurant, DeGregory uses traditional ingredients to create something unusual. The self-taught designer, who formerly created costumes for ballet and theater companies, remembers not being able to afford the high-style clothes she wanted in high school. She now exacts fashion revenge in her style-setting cashmere sweater coats, leather leggings and other signature designs repurposed from discarded materials. In DeGregory’s skilled hands, old jeans find new life as an elegant coat, or a pair of large, pleated leather slacks transforms into slinky leggings with a playful skeleton appliqué dancing up the leg. DeGregory’s custom designs will be available soon at www.reduxcouture.com. Betty Malo is the founder of Betty Badd Couture, a line of wallets, belts, guitar straps, boa-like scarves, T-shirts and other accessories, which grew out of a creative hobby that involved gilding and painting leather products. From her first homespun designs, Malo has generated a distinctive line of accessories and jewelry that has caught the eye of celebrities from Sheryl Crow to Tommy Lee. Justin Timberlake wears a Betty Badd chain wallet in a recent video. The wife of singer/songwriter Raul Malo, she blends her creative style with a natural life in the music industry spotlight to create a unique sense of rock ’n’ roll couture. Betty Badd Couture is available in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami and Bogotá, as well as locally at The Perfect Pair, Jamie, Bloke, Bamboo and Sugar and online at www.BettyBaddCouture.com.