For fashion designer Amanda Wagner, who began designing at the tender young age of 5, attended schools focused on the arts, and grew up with a mom and sister who were both models, it's no surprise that design was in her future. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to wear one of her original pieces for the Simon Fashion Now: Design Wars show on Oct. 21, and let me be the first to tell you, it was an experience in couture to remember. Reminiscent of something straight out of a Tim Burton film, the plaid skirt, deep V-neck shirt with chiffon scarf, plush fur shawl and pill box hat fit perfectly, all due to Wagner's spectacular draping abilities.
Creative Loafing: How did you break into the fashion industry?
Amanda Wagner: I started off doing figure drawings and began developing my portfolio in high school. I took fashion merchandising and marketing classes there, too. Then for college, I went to Radford University and the American InterContinental University in London.
Do you sew or work with a seamstress?
Both. It depends on the capacity of what I'm creating. The misconception most people have is that because you are the designer, you sew absolutely everything you make, and that's not true. The designer is the point person who executes the concept from start to finish.
Describe your personal style.
I'm fairly simple. I like things that elongate my body. My style is very classic, classic edgy. I like things that accentuate the feminine and show off your natural contours. I like clothes that can be worn to work and after work. I love things that are nostalgic of the 1950s, even the '30s.
What do you think about Charlotte's fashion scene?
Fashion in Charlotte is very up and coming. It has tons of potential, and I think the money is here in Charlotte to support it. There are so many creative individuals here, and I think it's the next step behind Miami and Atlanta.
Where do you like to shop?
Anywhere! [Laughs] I like the mall, boutiques, thrift stores. I'm not always big on name brands because I'm more about finding the right 0x000Apiece. I like New York & Company, Lotus, Boris and Natasha.
Anything in the works?
I'm creating the full wardrobe for Miss Charlotte USA 2011 to compete for the North Carolina title [this month], and I'm going to be launching a collection with Runway Style Studio in NoDa, featuring my clothing and accessories, in 2012.
What's your fashion motto?
"Fashion fades, only style remains." Coco Chanel said that. I stick with that. For me, fashion is art meeting the human form. Your style is key to who you are. Not just staying current with the trends but making them your own.