Style maker: Oxford designer Mandi Faulk featured at Fashion Week for second year
by Sherry Kughn
Special to The Star
Feb 24, 2013 | 6217 views |  0 comments | 274 274 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mandi Faulk of Oxford makes an adjustment to her design worn by model Macye Wysner, also of Oxford. Faulk’s work will be featured at Birmingham Fashion Week Thursday. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
Mandi Faulk of Oxford makes an adjustment to her design worn by model Macye Wysner, also of Oxford. Faulk’s work will be featured at Birmingham Fashion Week Thursday. Photo: Trent Penny/The Anniston Star
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The third annual Birmingham Fashion Week kicked off Saturday at the city’s Pepper Place. For the second time in two years, the work of Mandi Faulk, last year’s winner of the Emerging Designers competition, will be featured. The Oxford native is billed this year as an “Up and Coming Designer.”

On Thursday night, six models selected by Faulk from Calhoun County, along with six from outside the county, will show off Faulk’s line of clothing. Two of her pieces are couture, that is, hand-sewn creations of original design. Ten others are outfits she designed and sewed on a machine. One of the latter has the touch of couture — a short, burnt orange machine-made dress boasts a flouncy handmade collar.

Faulk graduated with a degree in apparel and textile design from the University of Alabama in December. Her professors were supportive of her win last year, she said, and proud of the recognition she’s received. Faulk has been featured in the Crimson White, UA’s campus newspaper. Her fall collection was displayed on campus, she has been asked to design clothes for charitable fundraisers and she was recently featured on flyers soliciting designers for Birmingham Fashion Week.

Faulk is planning to move, possibly to Atlanta, a city that would offer her good career opportunities and allow her to stay close to home.

“I have already found some buyers from boutiques who are interested in my work and who want to carry my entire line,” said Faulk.

There is one problem with that path, though — manufacturing. Without financial investors, a designer must pay a manufacturer thousands of dollars to make and supply clothes for boutiques.

On the other hand, if a buyer from a major department store requests one of Faulk’s designs or hires her to be on the store’s design team, the buyer will arrange a contract. Faulk is hoping last year’s win and this year’s placement as a featured designer at BFW will help her land a contract on a design team and expand her career in fashion.

“Birmingham Fashion Week will only open more doors this year,” she said.

Her current line includes an evening gown with a brown leather bodice and a cream-colored, floor-length skirt. Another design features a printed, wide-legged pair of pants with a matching top, both influenced by Aztec art. The outfit fits in with her desire for a more casual line than last year’s.

“Last year, I used fur, sequins, accordion-pleated chiffon and featured a gown of cobalt blue,” Faulk said.

This year her chosen fabric colors are lighter, neutral colors accented with touches of burnt orange and rust tones, blacks and browns. There is a backless beige blouse worn over loose orange pants, a hip-hugging long skirt with a white cropped blouse decorated with a brown cross, a knee-length beige dress slit to reveal brown shorts, and a backless silk-print dress with a hanging cross in the back center front split.

“My inspiration usually comes from the different textiles I see,” Faulk said. “If I like it, I start visualizing the design possibilities.”

Faulk said she is glad to be able to give opportunities to local friends to model her clothing line. Come Thursday, the models will be wearing Faulk’s clothing, polishing their looks and preparing to walk down the runway. But none will be as nervous as Faulk.

“Whenever you design something you are putting yourself out there, and people will like what you’ve created or not,” she said. “It’s your baby, and you want people to appreciate what you’ve invested so much into.”

Faulk said that, in spite of the risks and the hard work, she has high hopes for her future.

“In this career, you must have hope.”

Visit www.bhamfashionweek.com for more information on Birmingham Fashion Week. Runway shows and events are scheduled each day leading up to the BFW finale Saturday. Faulk’s show is set for Thursday. See her work by visiting www.mandifaulk.weebly.com, amandamay02.wix.com/mandi or on Facebook.
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