KCFW Designer Interview: Hannah Kristina Designs

Q: This is not your first KCFW experience. How has the planning process differed this season specifically because of the pandemic?

A: It’s been different because all correspondence between the KCFW team and with my models has been completely through email. It made it a bit challenging for me personally as I would always come down to KC for rack check, so that I could use that time to fit all my models to make sure I could adjust the dresses perfectly. Luckily, I still had most of my original roster from March that were able to participate in the virtual shows; but while I was creating my new looks to add to the collection, I had to be very conscious about their specific measurements and try my best to estimate the fits of the dresses with the mannequins I have at home. So, it was definitely different without being able to fit my models.


Q: I’ve seen the same models rock your designs season after season, whether on the runway or on your Instagram. What advice can you offer to models who want to have a continual relationship with a designer?

A: Don’t be afraid to reach out to a designer letting them know you’re interested! A lot of my models I’ve met while working on various photoshoots, but some had also reached out to me personally through social media letting me know they’d love to wear my stuff. To me, when they take that initiative, I know they are serious about wanting to work with me. We love to hear from you!

Q: You are a self-confessed Midwest fashion designer. Do you want or plan to pursue other markets for your garments or are you most comfortable creating for women in the midwest?

A: I would absolutely love to pursue other markets! It is a dream of mine to one day show at NYFW. I would also absolutely love to take my designs international as well. I feel like I’m still in the “building stages” of my brand, so realistically (and financially) it has been easier to stay in the Midwest. It helps that both Kansas City and Omaha have such advanced fashion show setups for us Midwest designers!

Q: Dries Van Noten said that “ready-to-wear is reality, whereas couture represents dreams.” Do you agree with that statement? Do your collections fall toward one end of that spectrum? 

A: Absolutely! That’s actually one of the reasons why I lean more towards evening or formal wear with my collections; I just feel like there’s more room to be creative and think outside of the box. Since an evening gown is not something you would wear every day, it doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% practical. You can make it more dreamy or daring or sexy because when you’re wearing a gown, you’re not trying to blend in - you want the focus to be on you.

You can make it more dreamy or daring or sexy because when you’re wearing a gown, you’re not trying to blend in - you want the focus to be on you.

Q: Can you share a little bit of your creative process?

A: I usually tend to start with fabrics! I’ll find a fabric that I really like, and then I will start drawing sketches and building out a moodboard; I know it’s kind of out of order for most! I do it this way because then I’ll already have an idea of what my fabric will look like and how it will drape on the body, so I know what kind of silhouettes I can design.

Q: Was your collection this season inspired by any single specific moment, person, or feeling?

A: This collection was inspired by the transformation of the peacock - how in the colder months, they lose their feathers so that brand new ones can grow. I sort of translated that into the journey of a woman that starts out being darker and more reserved, and gradually shedding that image and gaining confidence and living in that beauty. 

Fun fact, my parents actually used to have a pet peacock as well! So it was easy for me to build out my color story.

Q: Your bio says you want to help women look and feel confident and beautiful. Have there been any surprises or milestones in your design journey where you really felt that you had fulfilled that ideal?

A: So far, it’s been about the feedback I’ve gotten from the models I’ve worked with. When they tell me things like, “I love working with you because I always feel beautiful when I wear one of your dresses,” or when I see their aura completely transform once they put on one of my looks for a photoshoot or for the runway, that’s when I feel like I’m accomplishing my mission. 

Q: You debuted in women’s evening wear. Once you’ve had success with a certain style is it difficult to continue to evolve?

A: Honestly, I don’t think so. Every designer’s style evolves. For example, once I started incorporating bodysuits, leggings, and pants looks into my collections, they became a major hit (much to my surprise, actually). Now to be fair, I have not yet tried to create a collection that is fully steered away from evening wear, but I do at times now try to incorporate more “street style” or ready to wear components, I just make them a little more glam to fit with my design aesthetic.

Q: Describe how your collections have transformed over the seasons with KCFW.

A: I feel like so far, my trend with my collections has been that I’m always trying to “one-up” myself with the fabrics I use. My very first collection consisted of all silk fabrics; I then moved to brocades, then sequins, and now feathers. I’ve still maintained my signature style by utilizing similar silhouettes each season, but my goal the past few collections is to create looks that will be showstoppers and memorable.

Q: You had a variety of fabrics and textures in your collection this season. Was one particularly challenging or rewarding to work with?

A: I like to challenge myself each season by trying to use a different type of fabric that I haven’t worked with yet. This season, it was stretch velvet and feathers! The velvet was so easy to work with, but the feathers on the other hand… that took a lot of trial and error, seeing how they would lay on the fabric, when I would have to hand sew them on vs sewing them with my machine, and how to make them “move” with the dress so it wouldn’t look stiff. I think I ended up using about 5-6 different kinds of feathers throughout the whole collection! My design space was an absolute mess the entire time, but I think it worked out for the better. They were a hit.

Q: It’s the day after KCFW! What are you doing now? What’s next for Hannah Kristina Designs?

A: Relaxing! :) I’ve got a few things up my sleeve for small projects, but I have no immediate plans to start work on another full collection right away. Especially with the current climate with COVID, I feel it’s important to not overwork myself and to take more of a mental break. My mind is always coming up with new design ideas, so even so, I will be sketching plenty of ideas for when I plan to launch my next collection. I will definitely be back on the runway!

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