by BONNIE THOMAS
Your clothes are a part of your identity. Wearing them at all lets you fit in; your style dictates how you stand out. So how do you “mellow your wardrobe down and keep it crazier at the same time”? Lindsey Knox, Jacksonville’s rising fashion designer, knows how to strike this edgy balance.
The recent graduate from the International Academy of Design and Technology (with a BA in Merchandising and a BFA in Fashion Design) has just won Jax Fashion Week’s Emerging Designer Competition. It was only her second “real” event, after participating in Orlando’s Fashion Week. Lest you think she’s too new to the scene to be touting, one of her dresses found its way onto a girl in “America’s Next Top Model” a few seasons ago. Although she’s not yet a household name, her growing regional presence is poising her to become seminal.
“I’m just starting out as a designer, and I like to think that I have a clue, but I have a lot to learn, definitely,” she says. Although she expected to move to New York soon after graduating to work in someone else’s fashion house, the warmth of the reception here has kept her longer than she anticipated. “I should stick around and take advantage of the opportunities,” she says. Still, “Who will I ever be as a designer if I don’t go to New York?”
Her likely bright future in the Big Apple wouldn’t exist without Jacksonville. She grew up in Michigan in a stultifying blue-collar community. After studying Psychology for two years she realized she could never work in an office. Then she started hearing about Jacksonville, Florida from some friends who had already escaped. “There’s a ton of creative people here! Coming here and seeing people do what they love to do totally inspired me to follow my dream. You have to stick to the passionate ones that know what they’re doing. Not that you ever do [know what you’re doing].” She laughs infectiously. It’s good to see a transplant to the 904 thriving and happy.
Her designs are (literally) rockin’. She was a performer well before she got into the world of professional fashion. “As a musician you want to wear something to the stage that no one has ever seen.” In a broader sense she says, “Fashion is almost created from music–everyone wanted to look glam after David Bowie did.”
Although she did a Jazz collection and a Brit Pop/Mod collection, her most evident source of musical inspiration is Punk. Punk kindles her creativity, obviously with its image, but also by its culture. She says, “I got into [fashion design through that] scene where everyone makes their own clothes.” This free-spirited, ebullient independence has bled into her clothing designs from her overall personality. When it was time to snap some pictures, she immediately said, “How about the boy’s bathroom? They have a cool wall.” (Ladies, if you’re comfortable ignoring a societal guideline, the men’s room at Birdies is something to see.) And lest our actions be misleading, her designs are decidedly feminine and sexy, exactly what you would want from a confident, fun woman.
In keeping with Punk’s contrarian ethic, she says, “A lot of my inspiration is the antifashion. I’m inspired by what I DON’T see. My designs will probably never be seen in Macy’s or something, but that’s kinda where I want to stand in fashion–almost the antagonist of fashion.”
As she says, “It seems like Jacksonville has fashion fever right now.” She’s clearly part of the bug ratcheting our temperature up. To catch some of the delightful delirium for yourself, you can find her on Facebook until her website is fully functional. “Everything I have is samples, but I do custom orders,” she says.
by BONNIE THOMAS