Q&A: 'Voltage: Fashion Amplified' creator Anna Lee


Spring is a unique time in the Twin Cities -- if not simply for the fact that we all finally thaw out and leave our homes, and perhaps even wear short sleeves or a sundress after 19 months of winter. Spring also brings MNFashion Week to Minneapolis, and for the last five years, Voltage: Fashion Amplified has merged both local bands and runway shows by local designers into one awesome night at First Avenue. Fashion and rock n' roll have always had a passionate love affair, and this Friday we get to really see that in action (hot!). That said, we felt it important to get to know the woman behind this explosive event, Anna Lee, through one of our 5 Questions features. And remember, VFA takes place Friday at First Avenue.

Gimme Noise: When was the first Voltage and how was that show different from more recent years?

Anna Lee: The first Voltage was in 2004, and much has changed since our first year. Thanks to our dedicated committee (which has quadrupled in size from the first year) we have been able to make changes every year to improve the professionalism of the show and designers, such as creating a design panel of industry experts to guide the designers in the development of their collections. Some of the changes this year: Voltage is finally on a Friday, with an after-show party in the mainroom [and it] is now part of MNfashion Week as the fundraiser for MNfashion. The runway configuration is new this year as well- we have raised it and lengthened it for better overall visibility. We will also have a "designer merch" area set up so that attendees can purchase looks the night of the show.

GN: What's your fashion background?

AL: I have a pretty unique balance of fine art, fashion and apparel manufacturing. I went to school for sculpture and painting, although I was always creating my own designs. I prefer to make accessories as wearable and functional sculpture under the label Ruby3. I also create costumes for modern dance and experimental theater, so I can let out my creativity and collaborate with other artists.

GN: Describe one of the coolest outfits you've seen come down the runway at a Voltage show.

That's a tough call, as there have been hundreds of outfits over the last five years...but perhaps the most memorable was the finale ensemble by Laura Fulk last year. Her collection was inspired by the tough pioneer women of the midwest. The final outfit was glorious--wild hair and headdress with a signature Laura Fulk dress.

GN: Who is your favorite local designer? Global?

AL: I can't have a favorite, in my opinion. But I will say that the designer I own the most pieces from is Red Show Clothing Co/Kerry Riley. Globally, Viktor & Rolf.

GN: What bands are playing this year and why were they chosen?

AL: Every year, we get the chance to select bands that we are excited about in the Twin Cities and create a pretty diverse balance of genres. This year, we are honored to be working with Maria Isa, Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, First Communion Afterparty, Gospel Gossip and Mercurial Rage.

GN: Why do you think First Avenue is a great venue for Voltage?

AL: Although there are many things that make Voltage exciting, if you're going to do a rock-n-roll fashion show right, you have to hold it in the most quintessential rock venue in the city! We get packed in there on the night of Voltage, but the staff there is always awesome to work with and everyone always has a great time.