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11.15.2011 Style Spot: The NAMI Collection

S/S '12 NAMI Collection
Talented, Smart, and a Sweetheart are just a few words that pop in my head when I think of designer Sarah Ahn. After meeting her a few years ago while volunteering at a fashion show, I was so excited to run into her again this pass season. The only difference was this time around she wasn't just working the fashion show, but she was actually staring in it and showing her new collection, NAMI.
Although she's new to the scene, her designs include soft silhouettes and earthy hues that couldn't help but make me ask, "Where can I buy...?"  And if that wasn't enough, I was even more captivated when I learned the amazing back story behind NAMI. Her journey into fashion may not be typical, but it certainly is one that defines the meaning behind DRIVEN!

1. Tell me a bit about how Nami was born?
 NAMI started not too long ago with NAMI DESIGN 
first, my interior design firm that I started in January of this year. After I left the medical field (PhD from UCLA in the neurosciences, postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, left to take care of my brother who was in a near-death motorcycle accident, after that... couldn't go back to surgery anymore) I went back to school for fashion design at FIDM in fall of 2009. At FIDM, I fell in love with fashion illustration and interior design while designing my new condo in downtown LA. Shortly after starting, I decided to transfer to Parsons because it was a shorter commute to see my husband in Chicago (we were doing a long-distance marriage at the time, all so I could pursue this new career path) and I've always wanted to live in New York City as an adult. I left FIDM in May 2010, went to Chicago to take one intro to interior design class which convinced me to reapply to Parsons for interior design. I got in then I deferred admission for one quarter so I could work in the field first before I decided to spend MORE time and MORE money on schooling. So I worked at Kelly Wearstler's design firm for about 5 months. Known largely for interior design, it turned out she was just starting her fashion line when I had gotten there and I had a chance to be involved with her debut collection FW11. I was also able to get really involved in many of the amazing interior design projects that existed there at her firm.
While I was in Chicago briefly to take the intro to interior design class, I entered a sketch to Laundry by Shelli Segal's "Design the Perfect Little Black Dress" contest... a couple months later, I found myself sitting in front of the computer in Sydney staring at an email which I thought was spam, announcing me as the grand prize winner! My winning dress design hit the stores this spring with Laundry by Shelli Segal. My little black dress was sold at Nordstroms, Macy's, and Dillards across the country and sold out quickly.
I decided to use the momentum of my dress in stores to start a fashion line. And in a very short 3-4 months, I finished a well-received debut season of 3 runway shows! NYFW at the Audi Forum in September, Project Ethos shot on October 14th and my own solo LAFW show on 
October 15th 
(yes... back to back shows!).

2. In which ways have you been able to implement your background of neuroscience into your fashion designing?
Construction of garments is actually a very logical, detail-oriented process and makes it easy for me to grasp with a background in science. Pattern making also requires the same fundamentals of logic and understanding of spacial orientation, especially when draping over a dress form... over the curves of a human body, in my case... a woman's body. It is really amazing to see how all the pieces of a pattern come together to form an article of clothing like a jigsaw puzzle. There is most definitely a science to the art of fashion design. Lots of geometry, trigonometry, and fractions... so study up! =)

3. With a background in both fashion design and interior design, would you say you have a preference between the two? If so, which one and why?
I enjoy both equally for different reasons. I love interior design because it gives me a chance to play stylist with objects that already exist. It's all about how you envision items that are not normally placed together fit and make sense together in one space. I love interior design for the way that little changes you do to a room can really alter the entire mood of a person. You live in that space every day.. it should be uplifting and inviting... and somewhere you call home... you sanctuary.
I enjoy fashion design because it's quick to see the fruits of my labor. I take a piece of fabric and by the end of the day, poof! I can see a dress hanging there. It's highly gratifying... to see a conceptual idea realized into a real object. Fashion design has a further reach in audience. More people relate to clothes than in interior design. It's more accessible. So it's also enjoyable to see friends, family, and the public react to positively to your designs.

4. What has been one of the highlights of your career thus far?
Meeting generous people, who have been so supportive along the way... bloggers (like yourself), magazine editors, showroom owners, boutique owners, strangers, old friends, photographers, stylists, models... people have come out of the woodworks to show their support for my desire to want to create things. It IS a cut-throat industry but people have thus far shown me a lot of love and support and I greatly appreciate every bit of it!

5. What would you say is the best and most challenging part of being a fashion designer?
I love the collaborative part. The fashion industry can be creatively limitless with the amount of collaborations you can have between artists from many different disciplines (fashion, photographers, models, graphic designers, textiles design, interior design, make-up artists, hair stylists)... so many different types of creative fields can converge into one.
Dislike/challenging: I don't understand why things are so disorganized or why being creative inherently means that you're flaky with everything else. Or better yet... that being creative and being organized/punctual are mutual exclusive. Drives me nuts. Maybe it's not fair because I work at warp speed and I expect others to be on board.

6. What are three words which you feel best describes your Spring collection?
~Whimsical ~ Romantic~ Flirty

7. What inspired your Spring collection?
My Spring/Summer 2012 collection was inspired by my trip to Japan last year, right around my birthday (I'm an Earth Day baby). My husband and I went to several parks in Tokyo and Nagano. One particular park, Ueno Park, had blocks and blocks of cherry blossoms in full bloom. The soft petals came in every shade between snow white to bright pinks. These petals were a stark contrast with the darkness of the trunk of the tree with its grays and blacks. All of these trees were punctuated against a beautiful clear cloudless blue sky. I found my color inspirations from these trees. I also found my fabric inspiration when I found a gust of wind blowing through the trees and it released all the loose petals... and thousands of petals fluttered into the air and swirled all around us. I had to close my eyes and just throw my head back and just let the petals fall on my face.
I imagined chiffon moving and swirling all around me as I walk in it... it's slinky and sexy yet elegant and demure.

8. If you could sit front row at any fashion show, what show would it be and who (dead or alive) would you love to sit next to?
I would like to sit front row of Alexander McQueen and sit next to Lee. I'm sure he's a normal guy but I would just like to have a conversation with him. Ask him what he ate for breakfast or what his favorite ice cream flavor was.

9. Where can people purchase Nami deisgns?
Stay tuned... We will be announcing the places to buy these items in March 2012, in time for when the items will hit the stores. Also in store for the future... a pop-up store event to promote the full launch of my debut collection! It'll be a great event for you and girlfriends to come enjoy a day of shopping, food and bubblies!

10. Feel free to include anything about yourself that you would want LMS readers to know in this question:
Just wanted LMS readers to know... that NAMI loves Tamara!
Thank you for taking the time to be genuinely interested in my brand. Muah! Lots of love! ~Sarah~

Want more??? Be sure to 'LIKE' NAMI on Facebook to stay on top of all their latest updates

(Photos courtesy of NAMI/California Apparel News)


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Hey Lovelies!! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I can't wait to read your comments and check out your blogs. Come back again soon!!


Tamara B.