Four KC designers set the couture bar high.

Talking KC Fashion Week with four fascinating designers 

Four KC designers set the couture bar high.

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Last year, Shuster ramped it up at Fashion Week with an avant-garde collection, and this week he's revealing a collection he calls "modern American sportswear with a classic British fox-hunting twist." The ready-to-wear look recalls Ralph Lauren and features wool, herringbone tweed, corduroy, houndstooth, earth tones, and bright colors mixed with plaid. Items include a quilted hunting jacket and a double-breasted frock coat, and his models will don bow ties, hats, umbrellas and travel bags.

"I'm catering to the style-conscious modern man who likes to look very clean, polished and tailored, and isn't afraid of pushing the envelope," Shuster says.

His plans go beyond this week.

"I was born and raised here and wholeheartedly believe in building in the Midwest," he says. "Instead of transplanting to the coasts and having to look to the coasts for fashion, it's time the coasts start looking to us. And I want to be a part of that."

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  • Brooke Vandever

Karma Jade

Line: American Trash
On the runway: 7 p.m. Thursday, February 28
Style: "Rock star"
Favorite materials: Leather, found items
Design inspiration: Music (pop, industrial)
Find it: "American Trash Couture" on Facebook, karmaclothingdesigns.com
Cost: Graphic T-shirts start at $20; handbags and halter tops cost around $100; a couture wedding gown runs $1,500–$15,000.

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  • Brooke Vandever

A design-school instructor once told Karma Jade that she wouldn't amount to anything in the fashion industry. Four years later, Jade's work has been featured in fashion showcases in Chicago and Kansas City, and has dressed musicians such as Halestorm's Lzzy Hale and Red Velvet Crush's Jillian Riscoe.

"I've never been one to let someone's negativism get to me," says Jade, whose ever-changing, Kool-Aid-colored hair and numerous tattoos and piercings add to her own rock chic. "I just stay focused on making everyone feel like a rock star."

Jade (whose real name is Katherine Swanson) takes an unconventional approach to her loud creations. She doesn't do sketches. Instead, she gathers her materials, many of them garbage-bound items, and then lets music dictate her results.

Case in point: her process for KC Fashion Week. She broke down a group of items (including old leather jackets and a purse) into raw material and then waited on a mix from DJ Preston Jeffrey Parsons, known as GENT.

"I put on my headphones and let my subconscious take over," Jade says.

GENT's lively tracks led to pieces that look good on musicians walking the red carpet. The stage pieces, Jade says, look like something out of a Las Vegas show — Cirque du Soleil, perhaps. Her accents include costume jewelry that incorporates crosses and crucifixes. She hopes also to add wings made from guitar strings, sheet metal and copper tubing. (She has a deal with Shawnee's Funky Munky Music: Instead of throwing away the leftovers from restringing instruments, the shop holds them for her.)

"I'm all about making a statement and doing what's best for the environment, and hope I can inspire people along the way," Jade says.

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  • Brooke Vandever

Brittany Davidson

Line: BMDesigns
On the runway: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2
Style: "Classic, sophisticated"
Favorite materials: Lace, double knits, wool tweeds
Design inspiration: Travel
Find it: bmdesignsonline.com
Cost: $40–$100

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  • Brooke Vandever

Some Midwest designers might get back from a New York Fashion Week acting all big-time. Not Brittany Davidson.

"To be honest, it made me miss Kansas City Fashion Week, which is so organized and well-run, and the models are all nice and on time," Davidson says a day after returning home from showing her collection at New York Fashion Week for the first time. "I love the support of the fashion community here. Everyone tends to want to see everybody succeed, and that's rare."

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