By Katherine Ellis
Photography courtesy of Skai Blue Media
When first looking at the designs by New York-based designer Shauntele, you are hit by the dichotomy in her collections. Feminine colours and flattering shapes are mixed with strong cuts and lines. “I think my designs are for a very modern woman who has a strong sense of self and [is looking] for something classic, easy and feminine to wear,” says Shauntele.
After being a tailor for celebrity stylists, which offered her the opportunity to work with Jessica Simpson and Judy Reyes, and working at NIKKA as a production assistant, Shauntele wanted to try designing her own clothes.
Four years and eight collections later, she has emerged onto the New York fashion scene, and has since dressed the likes of Ivanka Trump and Princess Amira al-Taweel of Saudi Arabia. One of her proudest moments to date, however, was dressing Majora Carter for her acceptance of a Peabody Award in 2011.
Inspired by her friends, young professional women entering the workforce, she says that the corporate arena is allowing a little more self-expression than in the past.
“A woman in the work place is not dressing to be cool, she is dressing for respect,” she explains. “I definitely believe that my client is a strong-minded woman who has a sense of adventure, but also strong responsibilities because she is trying to accomplish a goal.”
For her designs, Shauntele is inspired by many things, including music. “For a lot of my past collections, I’ve really just imagined a woman walking down a runway to a piece of music that I found. From that point, I try to find the [related] physical embodiment. If it is electronica, I’ll try to find a textile that looks more techy, or if it’s country music I find something more home grown.”
For her spring/summer 2013 collection, however, Shauntele was inspired by Rorschach prints – something she stumbled upon while doing research on the Internet. She was drawn to the symmetry of the inkblots and the psychological element. “When a woman wears a garment she is telling you something about herself and you are also thinking about her. So I thought of the concept of that impression that you give out, ‘What do you see?’”
The psychological component was combined with natural elements like leaf patterns and a soft colour palette inspired by a sunset. These classic pieces are elegant with a modern twist, and there is a strong white theme running through them.
Shauntele is proud to wear her own clothes when going out to a cocktail party or event, adding that she is her own customer and her femininity is reflected in the pieces, to which she always tries to add a little uniqueness. Her favourite piece to date is “The Avenue” – a black-and-white ombre chevron pattern charmeuse coat, belted at the waist. “I wear my clothes all the time; can’t wait for the fall to wear my coat!”