Local fashion designer Laura Fulk has stars in her eyes. Literally. Fulk's new solo show, To the Ends of the Universe , draws on her curiosity of the unknown and the magical possibilities it holds. A follow up to her critically acclaimed avant-garde phantasm, Suffocate, held at the Lab Theatre last spring, To the Ends of the Universe will prove to be an ultimately more wearable (and sellable) collection while still retaining Fulk's distinctive, imaginative touch. With the aid of supportive financier and local fashion aficionado, Ray Shan of Behind the Seams, Fulk plans to take her career to the next level -- mass manufacturing -- and make the leap into the world of professional apparel design. A prolific and dedicated designer with an immense amount of experience under her belt, Fulk is definitely poised to take flight, and odds are, the universe is ready.
We chatted with Laura about her new collection, her personal style, and the Minnesota fashion scene...
DRESSING ROOM: You've been on the local design scene for quite some time. How did you get into it, and what's your background?
LAURA FULK: I have been designing since about 2004. Right after high school, I went and got my AAS degree in Fashion Design from MCTC. It was everything I needed, but I wanted to pursue a four-year degree, so I went to MCAD and earned my BFA in Fine Arts Studio in 2007. I majored in Printmaking, Photography, and Sculpture... tying them in to my love for fashion, of course. While at MCAD, I did every little fashion show imaginable, sometimes doing 12-15 shows a semester! I was crazy.
In your 2009 spring solo show, Suffocate, you presented a number of very artistic, structural avant-garde pieces; how does the new collection differ, and what is it inspired by?
Suffocate was most definitely something I had to get out of my system. It was extremely avant-garde, loaded with concept, and even teetering on the line of "theatrical." Emma and Kris (MPLSart) told me to dream big, so I did. It was an amazing experience that I hope every designer gets a chance to have. This year, I had the opportunity to mass manufacture my collection, so I focused hard on making the pieces more "ready to wear" while still making it look like Laura Fulk. I think I did it. This is by far the best collection I have ever done, and I already have the next one in the works. To the Ends of the Universe is inspired by the idea of a journey through the universe. Like most of us, I've always had this strong curiosity about "what's out there," and what you'd find if you were to travel through it. It's about going to any extreme to find something then realizing perhaps that you've had it all along.
Do you design with yourself in mind? How does your personal style contrast or compliment the fashion creations you dream up?
I design for an "ultra ego" of sorts, a cleaned up, classier version of me. I would most definitely wear a lot of what I make, but personally, I don't necessarily fit my customer profile to a "t." I actually dress fairly boring. I don't know that I mean to but I tend to stick to blacks and grays and wear mostly jeans. Fashion designers have to do a lot of running on top of a lot of sitting at machines, so I tend to keep it pretty casual.
If you could design for someone famous, living or dead, who would it be and why do you think they could rock your look?
Karen O, Santigold...any rockstar really. Fashion and music are such a killer combination. Perhaps Annie Oakley because she wore dresses and carried a gun and that is entirely just so bad ass.
What can people expect at your runway show this week? Any secrets you can dish?
I am so excited for this runway show. I once again had two Minneapolis artists, Melissa Breitenfeldt and Laura Weber, create custom fabric for the collection and it is just gorgeous. The colors in this line are daring and vibrant. The collection consists of many separates that are interchangeable. I made some pretty rad outerwear jackets and even did some semi-complicated sweaters. And the final segment by far trumps last years. I made it my goal to have everyone in the audience have goosebumps. I really think they will.
How has the local design community and MNFashion helped your career? What advice would you give to a fledgling designer just starting out?
MNFashion was just a dream when I first started designing. Local designers like Anna Lee, Elizabeth Chesney, Warrior Princess, and Kerry Riley were my heroes, I always made a goal of wanting to make it to their level. Now that MNFashion is in full effect, it's the ideal resource for up-and-coming designers... I wish I had it when I started! Working under designers is the ideal way to understand the field. I would also tell them to never give up.
What other MNFashion Week events are you most excited for?
Well, Voltage was definitely a highlight. Mayda, one of the musical acts that played the show, is my new fave and I made her an awesome outfit! I am excited to go to Imagination Mechanism, the grand opening for Blacklist Vintage, and Christopher Straub's show!
At the time of this article, Laura's Tuesday night show at the U of M Alumni Center is sold out, but you can sign up on the waiting list and learn more about Laura at www.laurafulk.com.
For more events going on during MNFashion Week, visit www.mnfashionweek.com.