While the rest of her family read along with the words to the worship music at church, young Kathryn Heard sat in the pews sketching dresses and shoes on the scribble pads left for children.
Heard’s designs became more elaborate as she grew older, eventually leading her to design a series of fleece outfits for her very first customers—her American Girl dolls.
Now a junior at Auburn University, Heard has found her creative process for designing pieces and discovered her own natural aesthetic, learning about proper techniques and skills through her classes at Auburn.
“I design to eventually be able to create and sell clothes that will make a woman feel beautiful, unique, feminine and herself,” Heard said.
Having always had an artistic eye, it was not until Heard attended a summer seminar camp at Savannah College of Art and Design that she realized her passion for fashion illustration, soon becoming one of the designers showcased in Memphis Fashion Week and recently working for Nicole Miller at New York Fashion Week.
Heard has been involved with Memphis Fashion Week since 2012, first as a model, then a designer and this past summer she worked as an assistant stylist. This particular summer Nicole Miller herself was in attendance along with some of her merchandising team.
“I met her [Nicole Miller] during an event, did my elevator pitch, had a business card ready and got the contact of her head merchandiser, who I then followed up with over email,” explained Heard. “I sent them my resume and later was offered the internship.”
Each day on the internship contained something new. Daily activities included adapting patterns, conducting trend research, sketching, creating technical production flats on computer software, organizing trims and more.
As part of the internship, Heard was presented with the opportunity to return to New York in the fall to help work fashion week—a job she eagerly took.
“I was a backstage dresser at the Nicole Miller show on the rooftop of the Gramercy Hotel,” said Heard. “I arrived at the show a couple of hours before the event, learned about my model’s looks and helped with the outfit quick changes about four times.”
A creative buzz and energy were palpable in the air at New York Fashion Week. Along with the craziness and excitement of the week, Heard gained some unique insights about her place in the world of fashion.
“I was very aware of all the things that I didn’t know and how much I have to grow to truly feel a part of the industry,” Heard stated. “That realization didn’t feel too good, but when you love what you’re doing, it’s not painful to work hard.”
All in all, New York Fashion Week was a learning experience for Heard, realizing that no amount of planning and preparation can prevent something from going wrong.
The whirring of the sewing machine slowly punching the needle through the fabric fills the room as Heard starts her next design project.
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