In the past, Boston based designer Jackie Fraser-Swan has shown her collection EMERSON in smaller off-the-beaten-path locations during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. But for Spring 2012, Fraser-Swan will be making the leap into the big show; the Tents at Lincoln Center, where her status as 'emerging designer' just might change to 'household name'. Style Wylde caught up with the designer to talk about inspiration, style, and her noteworthy familial ties just days before she takes the tents by storm.
SW: Tell us about the name “Emerson.” Rumor has it that it’s your middle name, and that you were named after your distant relative the great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Are you carrying on the family tradition of Transcendentalism and belief in individualism within your designs?
JFS: It’s true, Emerson is my middle name, and the relation to Ralph Waldo Emerson comes from my father’s side. I design for the woman who is open-minded and who is a free-thinker, so yes, you could say the EMERSON collection is my interpretation of my family’s individualist philosophy.
SW: When did you first find yourself drawn to fashion as a career path? Did you always know you would become a designer? Did you have a fall back plan if designing didn’t work out?
JFS: I’ve been interested in both art and fashion since I was young, and I decided to go to the School of Fashion Design in Boston in 2009 to learn clothing construction and design technique. I didn’t always know I would become a designer, but now that I’m doing it I can’t imagine doing anything else as a career. I didn’t have a fall back plan when I started, nor do I now…this is my creative outlet. I want to have something to pass down to my girls, and I’d love to have them working with me someday.
SW: You are based in Boston, with your headquarters in the heart of the historic Newbury Street District, how does this location impact your point of view as a designer? How does it set you apart from say, the thousands of designers who choose to be in New York full time?
JFS: Boston has an old-world feel—the architecture of the churches and historical landmarks here definitely contribute to my design aesthetic.
SW: Who is the EMERSON woman? Is she a certain age or social class, or is it more a spirit, a personality that you see your pieces appealing to?
JFS: The EMERSON woman is enigmatic. I don’t have a particular kind of type of woman in mind when I design. Her fearless spirit transcends age or social class.
SW: Let’s talk about your Spring 2012 collection, which you will be showing for the first time on site at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Lincoln Center. Where did you draw inspiration for the new pieces? Were there specific cultural or historical references from which you began your creative process?
JFS: My inspiration for this collection was Lightness and Darkness. There weren’t any specific cultural or historical references this time around, quite the opposite. I was inspired by what was going on in the moment.
SW: Is there an added pressure in moving your collection to the tents, as opposed to showing in a more ‘off the beaten path’ location?
JFS: I think designers feel pressure no matter where they’re showing- we all want our show to be perfect! I’m incredibly thankful to be having my first runway show at Lincoln Center.
SW: What do you do when you aren’t designing? How do you decompress from the daily chaos of running an emerging fashion house?
JFS: When I’m not designing, I spend all of my time with my husband and four daughters. Running EMERSON can certainly be chaotic at times, as you mentioned, but it’s a huge priority for me to spend all of my off-time with them.
SW: If you could chose any actress, rock star or pop culture icon, living or dead to design for who would you pick?
JFS: Courtney Love!
Emerson Spring/Summer 2014. All images: C. Hope/S. Whittle for Style Wylde.