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Fashion Star Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Lizzie Parker

This is an interview with Lizzie Parker on March 28, 2012 about the show Fashion Star.

Question:
Would you have done anything differently from the beginning, or would you have stayed exactly like you were if you had another chance?

Lizzie Parker:
Hindsight's always 20/20, but my customers saw it as me. And I have gotten more Web business than I've ever had, and I stayed true to my brand, so I don't live life with regrets and I would have done it all the same.

Question:
Did you feel that during the designer portion of the episode you got enough feedback from the mentors in order to create a really good runway, or did you kind of feel like you didn't get enough?

Lizzie Parker:
This episode, the funny thing is I actually did get a bunch of feedback from them. You know, they have to condense it all down and they really liked my direction. And so, when I got on the stage I was like, ???Oh, this didn't go so well.??? But I did what I did, which was me and it was original and it came from the heart, and so whether the mentors like it or not you still have to, I believe, stand true to who you are.

Question:
What's next for you?

Lizzie Parker:
That's kind of my question right now too. It's been a crazy two weeks. I mean the show, I presented at L.A. Fashion Week, my Web site is exploding with business, I have a couple retailers onboard, so I'm really trying to focus on in where I take this. And you'll continue to see me grow my Web brand, I am working on some new lines with one of my fellow contestants, and you know I'm hoping to just continue growing and moving forward because what I wanted was a platform to grow my business and that's exactly what I got, so it's all good.

Question:
You said in last week's show that you weren't used to using color because you were from Seattle, so were you extra nervous about creating summer looks?

Lizzie Parker:
Yes and no. I mean, if you look at who my idols are, you know they're Rick Owns, who doesn't use any color at all and a lot of the designers even on the show, including John Varvatos, don't use a lot of color. So, I felt like I was in good hands, but for summer I did want to stretch a little bit and use some color and try and incorporate who I am. So, I think it was a good challenge to kind of explore some new things about my design aesthetic, and in the end it didn't work out that well for me here, but it has in my own line. So, nervous? No. Stretch myself? Yes. Bummed with the results? Totally.

Question:
You did get a lot of feedback. What do you think was the best piece of advice you got during the show?

Lizzie Parker:
Definitely from John Varvatos. We were having a conversation about me being a knitware designer and knits on a stage like that with sequins and all of these tailored garments, I had a moment of do I go outside of what I do and what I do well? Like, is Lizzie Parker beyond knits? Is this the time to do it?

And he really talked to me about staying true to who I am and telling me that I did do knits well and I should innovate within a category that I worked really well in right now. And I've really stuck to that and I really took that feedback to heart in my Fall 2012 presentation, and it's worked really well for me. I've gotten the best reviews on that runway show that to-date, so that piece of advice still stays with me now.

Question:
When you left the show was there anyone that you were really hoping would go all the way and win it?

Lizzie Parker:
Well I have three. I mean bottom line of course I'm going to want my Seattle sister, Lisa, to you know go on and do really well. Nzimiro is from Michigan; I'm from Michigan. And then, Edmond, Edmond made me this bracelet because it was my birthday during the show, and he has this passion for fashion. You've heard him talk about it and he really has this spirit that reminds me of my son, so the three I really want to see them continue to do well.

Question:
We really liked your use of actually sticking to the darker colors, really influencing your clothes and people have been calling it like the rocker, heavy metal kind of look. When talking to the customers that the show brought in, how do you compare them to the customers that you already had before?

Lizzie Parker:
There were some customers that were similar to who I have, and some customers who were different. I got an amazingly positive response from the customers. I will say in Episode 2 I was surprised to be standing in the bottom for just color use, because at the end of the day, you know as I said, you've got to kind of be true to your brand and that is what sells. So, I had some pretty positive feedback from them and they were representative of who I sell to.

Question:
You mentioned presenting at L.A. Fashion Week. It's such a big important event in the American industry, taking your design aesthetic into mind how do you feel that it matches the I suppose the fashion style in L.A.?

Lizzie Parker:
I definitely did a range of pieces. It was a whole fifteen looks, and that was a big show for me, and it was also live broadcast so I was really nervous. And I stuck to my aesthetic and I felt like the feedback I got was there was something for everyone, and it was a wearable fashion.

I'm the first to admit, I am not a couture designer. I don't know that I'd ever do a super high end line. You know, women live their life in my clothes. I live my life in my clothes. And it may not be the red carpet piece, but it is the same that you wear every day, and that's exactly the feedback I got, but I also pushed myself with a lot of different things. Like I did some wax coatings. Like people thought some of the dresses were lather and they were really French terry sprayed in this wax coating that I've been doing. So, it's cool because I feel like there's stuff for every day and there's stuff that's a little different that you don't see out there, so I was excited.

Question:
Back to the dress with the wax coating. That was such a genius use of materials, how do you find the inspiration to use something that no one else would think to use?

Lizzie Parker:
The funny thing is I'm in the factories. Nicholas Bowes actually does all my manufacturing, one of the other contestants, and I was down in the guy house talking with the people doing the work and they showed me this coating. And I said, ???Wow, can,??? and it was on denim, I'm like, ???Do you think we could do that on jersey? And they're like, ???I don't know. Maybe we should try it.??? So, I really do this every day and I'm down there working with the people who actually manufacture my clothes. And so, it came through knowing enough about production and having really working with my people to see what the technology out there could do.

Question:
After you showed the Sheath Dress, you didn't exactly get the best feedback; although, I know Nicole Richie had mentioned that she saw where you were going with it, but you weren't quite there yet. And I'm just curious have you continued to kind of develop that dress? Are you pulling elements from it to use in other designs? How are you taking that feedback and moving forward with your line?

Lizzie Parker:
The funny thing is that dress is based on a pattern that I've had in my line for a couple of years, so I still sell that dress right now. I call it Diffusion and most designers do that you have kind of this core lock that you do different things with. So it's still in my line, it's still selling well, it doesn't look like it does on the show, but it's definitely the same pattern. It's the silent lucidity dress. And so, yeah of course, you know I push myself and, you know you definitely have to take feedback and digest it, but in the end you have to incorporate it into your line in a way that makes sense, so that's what I'm doing.

Question:
Did you have a favorite design from any of the other designers on the show?

Lizzie Parker:
A favorite design from any of the others? I will say the pants that Kara made this week; I really liked those, so that was a favorite for me. I'm thinking back now too, but when I watched the show last night I was like, ???I want to go buy those pants right now.??? I thought they were cool.

Question:
Now that you're on the show, I don't know if you can give us a sense of what it's like being in the designer studio and what the relationship is with the vendors?

Lizzie Parker:
I mean each of us get an opportunity to meet with all three mentors, so everybody has that same opportunity. And some of us have been around the block a little bit. I've been doing this for seven years. I have the t-shirts. I've been there.

I think that for all of us clarifying your presentation with the mentors is difficult, and so sometimes I had good meetings with them, sometimes I didn't. But at the end of the day, I was pretty clear about what I wanted to stay true to no matter what the consequences. So for me I don't work well at the 11th hour. I know me too. Like, if I want to be creative and really put the best thing out there, I don't do so well when I come in at the 11th hour. I have to kind of schedule it out, so for others it worked out really well for them.

But, it's stressful, right? I mean, because sometimes we'd get three different feed - you know three different points from each of them, and that's when you have to kind of put your big girl pants on and go, ???Okay, who am I? What am I going to take? Where am I going to go and make the magic happen???? And you saw Orly do that this week, so cheers to here because it's not easy.

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