Mz Mahogany Chic can’t get enough of NBC’s new hit show Fashion Star! Edmond Newton, Season 1 contestant, shows his creative vision via a chic (and we love chic!) halter dress. His dress, bought by Macy’s Caprice Willard, also hangs in my closet waiting for the right moment to be seen. We are sad to see him go but I’m sure this isn’t the last from Edmond. I spoke with Edmond about his creative vision, being on the show, and his future. Here’s what he had to say…
Mz Mahogany: We were introduced to your creative vision via the NBC TV Show Fashion Star, but who is Edmond Newton?
Edmond:I am a self-taught fashion designer born in Ohio and raised in a small town in South Carolina. I pretty much grew up in my mom’s salon. She’s an entrepreneur and hairstylist. My dad is in the military. Growing up in the south, I was exposed to many different hairstyles, clothes, and fashion. I did a lot of traveling with my mother to different hair and fashion shows. Those two worlds (hair and fashion) are closely related. Throughout my school days, I’ve always been interested in fashion. At that point in time, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it and where I wanted to go, but I just had a natural passion for fashion. In junior high school I won an award for best dressed. My mom encouraged me to go to a model casting call. I honestly wasn’t overly excited about it but I was doing it for my mom. I went with no expectations. Ironically, I was selected by an agency to be a model. From there they set me up with a professional photographer and got my comp cards made. Again, I really didn’t have a lot of expectations behind this but I started getting calls and bookings. This was all during high school. So I was taken out of school to do travelling, shoot commercials and perform in fashion shows. I’ve worked with companies like Belk’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Applebee’s, Denny’s and I’ve done print catalogs. Being in front of the camera was great exposure but I really wanted to dibble and dabble in the creative side.
With that being said, I started a t-shirt company in 2005. It did really well and so I decided I wanted to take it further. I had a bunch of ideas in my head that I didn’t see on the racks in South Carolina. I just didn’t see a lot of things in stores that got me excited. So I said I would create items of my own, but I didn’t know how to do that. It was trial and error for me. I messed up a lot of clothes and fabric but it was all a part of the learning process. I started doing local shows, inviting family and friends. I started reaching out to businesses to get my name and my brand out there. I did all of this without knowing the actual mechanics of the fashion industry. The closes city to get my brand going in fashion was Atlanta. I went out there numerous times with my mom to attend shows like the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show. I took a chance and moved to Atlanta. I applied to AIU and attended for two years. That gave me more knowledge about the fashion industry. From there I opened a studio and continued to establish my brand and myself as a fashion designer. I love the glitz and glamour side of fashion. Back in the day there was a show on the E Channel called Fashion File. I would watch and checkout the menswear shows because at that time that was what I was pretty much interested in. The show was my inspiration. I would see it and say that’s what I want to do. My style is ever evolving based on my life experiences and things that I have come in contact with. My fashion is my art, it is my voice, and it is who I am.
Mz Mahogany: How did you get to be a contestant on the NBC TV Show Fashion Star?
Edmond: I have a friend in DC, Andrew Nowell, who is a menswear designer. He knows that I have been applying for the TV show Project Runway every year. Each year I get further and further however I never get selected as the final cast for the show. It’s funny because when I walk in, Tim Gunn is like Hi Edmond. That’s how many times I’ve gotten close to being on the show. My friend Andrew told me about Fashion Star and encouraged me to apply. I was back and forth with the casting staff for Fashion Star, but I was really quiet about it because I’ve been at this stage where I was so excited that I may be on a show but never get called. I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. I am barber as well, and I was working in the shop when they called to tell me I was on the show. I was so excited, I was yelling and making so much noise in the barber shop but no one knew what was going on. I told them I would tell them about it later. I collected myself and became cool again because I knew anything could happen. They could change their mind etc. So I said I wouldn’t get excited until I received the plane tickets to go to LA. I actually have a picture of me with the tickets. I must say being on the show was an amazing experience. I am so glad to have been a part of it and to be able to work with the likes of people like John Varvatos, Nicole Richie, and Jessica Simpson. John is actually one of my fashion heroes before going on Fashion Star. I am influenced by his designs; it’s a modern take on menswear. John is someone I look up to in the fashion world. To be able to work with him, talk to him, walk with him and get personal with the designs is just amazing. Having the opportunity to showcase my designs in front of H&M, Macy’s and Saks is like a dream. You can’t ask for anything better than that.
Mz Mahogany: Take me back to Week 1; we just watched your sleeveless halter dresses on the runway and you were standing on stage for the first time waiting to hear if you made a sale.
Edmond: Take me back a little further than that! The process of designing, and then waiting to present, and then just being in the studio; your mind is racing and you have so many thoughts. First of all, you are excited to be there and then you are working around all these other designers from all walks of life. There were so many different creative energies in the room. I think at that point in time, the main objective was to not go home first. That was the first thing I said. I don’t want to go home first. The second thing in my mind was getting a sale. The halter top cocktail dress that I created was dedicated to my mom. I called it “Anna Rosa” after her, which is my mom’s name. I am so thankful for her being so supportive of my entire career. In her eyes, I have always been her Fashion Star. Then it comes time to actually present on stage. The models walk out wearing my dresses on this elaborate stage filled with bright lights and the music is pumping, it was exciting. We really worked hard. At that point, it was all about the feedback because you are being judged by the masses, the mentors and the buyers. I was in the first set of designers on stage to be critiqued by the mentors. It was funny too because after the mentors critiqued my dresses, I was so nervous and excited I said Elle’s line “Let’s see what the buyers have to say” LOL. So I’m standing there and I hear, “Any offers for Edmond”. The Macy’s light lit up for $60,000! I had so many mixed emotions. I told myself you are not going to cry on TV. I was so excited; it was my first sale to a major department store. The feedback from Jessica saying that she loved the dresses and the fact that I made a sale had me on cloud 9.
Mz Mahogany: In your elimination episode you made the decision to switch over to menswear. Is that something you regret doing?
Edmond: It’s kind of two fold. I believe that everything happens for a reason. I can always say, I should have done that or could have done that. I try not to beat myself up about it. In life we have to make decisions. I made a decision to showcase my menswear because I wanted to show my range. I was the only designer at that point to showcase both womanswear and menswear, which is what I do in my everyday life. I just think I did it too soon. I think the buyers wanted to see more womanswear. Being eliminated, it was hard.
Mz Mahogany: If you can go back and do it again, would you do it the same way?
Edmond: To be honest, I wouldn’t. I would have made an amazing dress based on the feedback I received. The buyers wanted to see more of my womenswear. You think about these creative things when everything is said and done but in the moment you have to make decisions. So to answer your question, if I had to do it all over again, I would kill them with the womenswear.
Mz Mahogany: What advice would you give a fashion newbie or student, looking to become a designer?
Edmond: First stay true to your vision and who you are as a designer. A lot of times you get side tracked to what you hear. Definitely take heed to the feedback people give you because in the end those people may become your customer or buyer. Fashion is your voice. Constantly evolve. Fashion is a rocky road; I don’t know too many designers that have had smooth sailing. It has its down days but those days can be your most creative. Utilize the internet, watch high fashion shows or whoever you are interested in. Surround yourself with positive people and always challenge yourself. Listen to positive music! I love music and if I could sing, I would be a singer. When I’m in my studio designing, I listen to music that would help motivate me. If I’m doing a gown, I would listen to something like Luther Vandross. If I’m doing something red carpet for someone like Rihanna, I would listen to an old school Madonna and incorporate that retro feel. Listening to positive music will keep your mind creative.
Mz Mahogany: What’s the last song you listened to on your iPod?
Edmond: I have a lot of old school music. The last song I listened to was by Duran Duran.
Mz Mahogany: What can we expect next from the Edmond Newton brand?
Edmond: I’m working on a resort collection. I also have a store that is requesting vibrant colors. I’m challenging myself to incorporate pops of color into the blacks and whites that I love to design. I’m listening to a lot of 80’s music and reminiscing on the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ for color. My goal is to hopefully show my Fall/Winter collection at fashion week. It will include a lot of blacks, gunmetal, hardware buckles, furs, leather and suede’s. A lot of the pieces are ready to wear and will be available on my website. If you see something from the runway show it can be custom ordered.
Mz Mahogany: Thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me.
For more information on Edmond Newton, please visit his website at http://edmondnewton.com or follow him on twitter: @EdmondNewton
Watch Fashion Star on NBC Tuesday’s @ 10pm Eastern.