This season is full of glamour and sensuous fabrics. Lucky for us - and now you - we met Calle Evans. A DAAP graduate who has honed her skills interning with Marchesa and an embroidery school owned by Chanel *swoon* this lady truly has an eye for design -- and execution. Miss Evans is a designer to watch, so we decided to pick her brain about her work, her growth and what's next!
Cue Spotlight: Calle Evans
Occupation: Owner and Designer of CALLE EVANS
Hometown & Current City: Urbana, OH and currently living in Cincinnati, OH
SE: What sparked your interest in designing, especially couture design?
CE: My love for designing started young. I began sewing in the third grade and always altered store bought patterns because I wanted to create something exceptional. I love working with my hands and have always been drawn to the amount of work and detail that goes into creating a couture garment. Incorporating elements of couture into my own designs elevates the quality and exclusivity. My desire to use fine fabrics comes from the simple fact of how they feel on the skin. I want women to feel sexy, beautiful and strong when she wears my designs.
SE: At what point did you realize you wanted to be a full-time designer?
CE: As I began my education at DAAP and experienced working in the industry through internships, I realized that I had this undying desire to constantly create and design. I also knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, having grown up with parents who owned their own business and worked independently from home.
SE: How did your education and internships motivate / influence your overall design aesthetic?
CE: While studying at DAAP, I completed four 4 month long internships at different companies and studied abroad for one semester. While my first two internships at Abercrombie & Fitch and LaSenza of Limited Brands were great for industry experience, it was the other three experiences that truly shaped my design aesthetic and interest in becoming an entrepreneur. My internship with the small brand and business woman, Althea Harper in New York City, gave me insight to what it takes to be a small design house and inspired me to work hard. My fourth internship was at Marchesa, a high-end luxury design house also based in New York City. Marchesa is known for creating beautiful and opulent pieces that allude to fairy-tale stories. My experience here further developed my knowledge of couture finishes and embroidery, and also gave me insight to how a luxury company operates. I spent my final co-op semester living and studying in Paris, France at École Lesage, an embroidery school owned by Chanel. Here I learned the craft of haute couture embroidery. The beauty of this craft is in the hours it takes to create the most beautiful motifs by hand. I love to incorporate embroidery because of its elegance and how it adds to the artistry of the design.
SE: When did you make the first design you were really proud of?
CE: My thesis collection allowed my design aesthetic to come to fruition. The inspiration for my thesis began with a book I had read called Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg, which was a beautiful, romantic story with dark imagery. Then I traveled to Paris, France, where the inspiration from a painting in the Louvre called La Jeune Martyre by Paul Delaroche captured the mood I wanted to convey in the collection. In this process, my take on the slip dress was born. I was drawn to this silhouette that had a sense of sensuality but was also modern. My first slip dresses had a lace neckline and hem. This has since evolved into the signature slip dress of my Spring/Summer 2016 collection, which is a streamlined version of the original. My thesis collection fostered the development of my romantic yet modern aesthetic and this was the jumping off point of my brand.
SE: Has your family always been supportive of your dream?
CE: I am extremely fortunate. My family has been nothing but supportive of my dream. My father operates and owns a business, which has given an insight into all the qualities to be a successful entrepreneur. My mother has had the ability to be flexible in her work, which has inspired me to work independently. Starting your own business is difficult and risky, and I am lucky to have great support.
SE: What led you to developing your first women’s line?
CE: Immediately post graduation I began developing the brand CALLE EVANS, which took about a year of planning. There is a lot to learn when it’s a one-person team. I also took time to define and understand my brand and where it fits into the market. I create pieces that offer a woman something romantic and sensual without being too obvious while maintaining a sense of modernity and elegance.
SE: How many hours go into making your signature slip dress by hand?
CE: The signature slip dress takes me about 6+ hours to sew. The slip dresses are 100% silk charmeuse with french seams and rolled hems. While the specialty slip dresses that incorporate other details such as couture style hand embroidery can take upwards of 40+ hours per dress.
SE: Which design is your favorite?
CE: My favorite design this season is the embroidered slip dress because I hand beaded it myself. When there is about 50 hours of time invested into this dress it’s hard not to love it that much more!
SE: Where does your inspiration come from?
CE: My inspiration comes from my travels; I adore new places and love to create collections around stories that relate to the location. I especially love Europe and I am preparing to travel to Germany and Austria this month! From a young age I also had an appreciation for art, especially the romanticism period, of which the rich colors evoked and conveyed such a deep emotion that I find inspiring. In addition, I am always drawn to romantic books and beautiful, cinematic movies. I can find inspiration in everything; it’s all dependant upon on how I react to it, which can then translate into new designs.
SE: What other ways have you found to flex your creativity in the design space other than creating original designs?
CE: I love spending most of my creative time and energy in developing new collections and continually pushing my brand to the next level. However, I also enjoy collaborating with other creative individuals on new projects, whether it be photographers, stylists, or other designers! I have a desire to constantly be learning. Working alongside other individuals is an exciting way to see new perspectives and brainstorm new ideas.
SE: Where can women buy your designs now?
CE: Currently, all pieces are by special order and I also offer custom orders specific to clients. I am hoping to have my designs in boutiques within the next season!
SE: You’re still so young! What’s next for Calle Evans?!
CE: Looking forward, I plan to continue releasing collections each season! Right now, it’s all about building the brand identity and creating new designs that are true to CALLE EVANS. This process is a constant learning experience and I am continuously coming up with new ideas!