Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Profile on local Edmonton designer, Kelly Madden

Edmonton designer, 
Kelly Madden.

This Friday I'm attending local Edmonton designer, Kelly Madden's, spring/summer fashion show at Black & Bold on Jasper Avenue. I have to say, I find Kelly really intriguing, as she's a small town girl like me, with a big love for fashion. I wanted to know a little more about Madden, and luckily the adorable and busy designer agreed to an interview!

Let’s start from the start! When did you know you were destined for a career in fashion?
I would say I truly knew in junior high school. I used to make my friends dress up in strangely paired outfits and take photos. I loved it!

What was the first garment you ever made?
I used to make clothes for my dolls, (and trolls! Ha,ha) and I would alter clothes for myself all the time, but the first garment I made completely from scratch (using a store bought pattern at the time) was a tight, silver, snake-print dress! Or, at least that’s the one that stands out in my mind. This was also when I was in junior high.

Growing up in a small town, were you the girl known for zany, edgy outfits?
Yes, I would definitely say so. Sometimes I think back and wonder why my parents let me go to school dressed as I did! I remember it really hitting me when I was talking to a guy who was grades ahead of me and asking if he knew who I was, and he said, “Yeah you are the girl who wears dresses all of the time”. I thought it was funny. I also had my tomboy stage though, wearing baggy jeans and t-shirts that were way too big. I suppose I was a kid of the mid-90’s grunge at times and mini skirts and pleather at others!

Do you think it’s hard for fashion designers to excel in a place like Edmonton, compared to other larger cities?
Yes and no. Larger cities tend to also have a larger population of designers, which can be competition in some aspects. What I find tough about Edmonton is its lack of resources for raw materials such as fabrics and notions. I suppose larger cities would have more opportunities to showcase your work to larger groups of people, but Edmonton has quite a few hand-made sort-of markets and Fashion Week is starting to become more popular.

Also, we only have a handful of stores that carry independent designers. It also depends on what the designer specializes in. I find that Edmonton, generally speaking, is more about casual comfort, which makes my line a little tougher of a sell.

Designed by Kelly Madden.

How would you describe your clothing line? How has it evolved over the years?
I would describe it as being classic with an edge. I tend to have a lot of structured pieces like fitted jackets, but will also do draped knit pieces. I like mixing opposites - hard-edged with soft and romantic. I think it makes my designs dynamic and interesting. 

I have kept the same general esthetic over the years, and have dabbled in other styles here and there when selling at markets, but what I do best would definitely be what I just described.

What or who influences your designs?
Ha! I have always hated this question. We had to have an influence for everything we did in college, so I came to resent it! I wouldn’t say that I am influenced by anything or anyone specifically or intentionally, but I suppose I would pick up things from movies and photographs that have an impact on me, usually of a dark nature or retro. 

My friend and roommate, Jasmine, influences me with her knack to pull off punk and rock and roll in her every day wear. She is also very creative, so it is great to have someone like that around to bounce ideas off of. If I am ever in an artistic funk, I can check out any collection by Alexander McQueen or John Galliano for Christian Dior. They can pull the creative out of me.

What are the biggest challenges in your profession?
Getting my name out there and finding appropriate places to sell my garments. Time is also a challenge. Doing every part of a business alone is very taxing. 

Who are your favourite designers?
Alexander Mcqueen, Christian Dior, and more recently Balmain. I also love to look at Elie Saabs collections for couture gowns.

After creating a new piece, do you ever find it hard to let go and let someone else rock it?
Sometimes, but I always just remind myself that I could always make myself another one! Though with my time constraints this quite often doesn’t happen!

How excited are you for this Friday’s fashion show at Black and Bold? Can you let us in on what we can expect?
I am pretty excited, and nervous as always. I am really hoping for a good turnout, this will be the first show I have ever done where it is mainly my designs. It’s a lot of pressure. You can expect a lot of clean lines and a lot of lace! I will be showing 13 outfits and most of them will be available in a small, medium and large prior to and after the show! Although this collection is for spring and summer, I believe many of its pieces are seasonless. 


  1. Great interview with Kelly Madden! I hope to make it to this event as well! Maybe see you there!

  2. I've gotta agree with Caroline! Great interview. I posted about Kelly Madden about a week ago!

  3. Anonymous3/10/2010

    Nice interview.
    Kelly has a huge talent and passion for her dream.
    Believe this or not, but she was less than 2 years of age when we noticed her interest in clothes. She wore combinations of items that she would pick out of her closet. She would not like it if there were any kind of stain to the point of changing clothes again later in the day.
    I also think that her Auntie Lori fueled this desire in her younger years as she was constantly sending Kelly clothes and it was like Christmas when those packages would arrive.
    So of course as her Dad I am proud to see things coming together for her. I hope Black and Bold has a great turnout for their show and let Kelly have the opportunity to dress a lot of women in some fine looking outfits.

  4. Thanks so much everyone! And great insight from Kelly's dad. So sweet!

    Thanks to everyone for supporting the blog and our local Edmonton designers.


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