Lagi Nadeau is a Chicago-based fashion designer in her second year as a designer-in-residence at Macy's Chicago Fashion Incubator. Choose Chicago sat down with Nadeau and asked her about how she became a fashion designer, her inspirations, why she loves working in Chicago and more.
How did you get into fashion/design?
From a young age I would color design ideas, drape dresses out of bed sheets and watch operas on TV. I was very shy growing up and art and design was an outlet for me, it's what made me feel confident in myself - because of that I think I always knew I would end up in a design-related career field.
In college it became clear to me that fashion design is what makes me the happiest. I went to Michigan State University and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York for fashion design. At FIT I did the one-year program, which was intense and pushed me to strengthen my design skills. I then worked in the fashion industry for five years in New York at fashion houses Tahari and Ammara.
Describe your aesthetic/the types of pieces you design?
I took hand weaving courses in college that influenced my love for textiles. My collections always start with high- quality fabrics, mixed in interesting ways. I gravitate toward textures - metallics, prints and color. My designs are feminine and timeless with playful details, for the woman who is successful in her career and personal life. She is confident and loves playing with her fashion. Fit and quality are important to my customer which is why I produce everything domestically out of the finest fabrics.
What are you working on currently? Any upcoming big projects?
My Fall 2014 collection will be in stores starting Aug. 1 which is exciting. I am also wrapping up my design development for spring 2015, which is one of the best parts of the design process for me - it feels so good to see an idea go from fabric swatches and sketches to a finished garment. There are always projects and new things happening which keeps things interesting and exciting; there's never a dull moment in fashion!
Why do you like working in Chicago as a designer?
I'm from Ann Arbor, Mich., and Chicago was always a city I enjoyed visiting growing up. I feel that people are very supportive and encouraging here in Chicago. There's a sense of community, especially with other designers and people in the industry, which I find to be beautiful. I enjoy travelling for work and showing my collections to other cities, but coming back to Chicago is always a good feeling because it's home.
Tell us a little bit about the Chicago Fashion Incubator and how it's helped you as a designer?
I can't imagine launching my collection without being in the Chicago Fashion Incubator program. It's a not-for-profit that selects six emerging designers for a two-year mentoring program. We're able to use work space at Macy's on State Street that has everything from cutting tables and sewing machines to photo shoot equipment.
I feel motivated and inspired every day being in that atmosphere and being around other creatives. Through the program I have been connected with design and business mentors, have had workshops with lawyers, accountants and more. I've also been fortunate to have great press opportunities through the program which helps as a new designer to gain exposure. I'm very grateful for all of the opportunities that come my way through the program, and all of the wonderful people I have met.
After CFI, what's the future for you and your line?
I am starting to think through that now and I am looking into different areas in Chicago for a design studio. Ideally I would move into a space that has other designers in the area because I think it's important to be around other creative types. I see my collection expanding and growing, getting into more boutique stores and eventually department stores.
Where are your favorite places to shop in Chicago?
Photos courtesy of Lagi Nadeau.