Amanda deLeon's clean, structured designs somehow manage to be both classically chic and slightly unnerving: Ridged, leather panels emerge like a spine from the back of an otherwise prim shift dress; in a jacket from her 2011 fall/winter collection, interwoven leather strips encase the wearer like an asylum cage. "I'm definitely a darker personality, so I think that’s what my clothing shows," says deLeon, who cites Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga as an influence. "I really like (Ghesquiere's) outlook on fashion. It's very structured and very artistic and not really caving to the idea of beauty."
What’s your background as a designer?
I learned to sew when I was 10. My mom used to work in a denim factory, and my grandmother was a quilter. My mom said, “Everyone needs to know how to sew,” so she forced me into it, and like every other Southern person I entered (my sewing) in 4-H. ... When I got to college, I had a small budget and started making my own clothes again. After I graduated, my husband and I moved to North Carolina to learn how to surf, and I couldn’t find a job that my degree would support. I started making my own clothes again and people noticed and made custom orders and it built from there.
I went to Louisiana Tech University and studied architecture. I always thought I was going to become the next Frank Ghery, so that didn’t happen, but I feel that way (now with) clothing. I’m inspired by (Ghery’s) style, as well as others. (My designs) definitely have everything to do with structure, and form follows function. Clothes have to serve a purpose first and style later. I like heavily structured clothing and interesting shapes.
You’re showing your spring 2012 collection this Friday at NOLA Fashion Week. How did you become involved with doing runway shows?
I first started with Charleston Fashion Week — that was 2008 or 2009, and I think that really forced me to start thinking in a cohesive way and to understand how to put a line together. This last NOLA Fashion Week (last spring) was really great. It was definitely my favorite collection so far. I got a really great response, and I was immediately accepted in the community. That was a highlight.
It still has the structure like my last line, but the color palette is what trips up people up, because they expect it to be so dark. But it’s very bright and airy. It’s a spring collection, which is not my favorite season to design for, but that’s probably the same with most designers. The fall season is so much fun. It has this level of sophistication, and I just really like the structure and the heaviness of the wools and coats.
Amanda deLeon will show her spring 2012 collection at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 at the Ogden Museum (925 Camp St.) for NOLA Fashion Week. Tickets for the show are $25 and can be purchased here or at the door.