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Katharine Kidd's Southern Aesthetic at Scottsdale Fashion Week

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Katharine Kidd isn't like many other national fashion designers. A southern belle and former school teacher, Kidd has always known her true passion fell more along the lines with luxurious fabrics and intricate designs. After relocating from Atlanta to Santa Barbara, Ca., Kidd began developing her signature style, and her collection's appearance at Scottsdale Fashion Week will be her first fashion show ever.

"I'm a southern woman, so I think my designs show that southern aesthetic. I also live in California, and that's my lifestyle," Kidd says. "I think it is a collision of those two things."

We sat down with the designer at last night's preview party to learn more about her collection, inspirations, and future plans ...

Tell us about this season's collection.
This is my third season, but I've been really into design my whole life and just recently started doing it. The two seasons before this have been such a learning process. I would say this season really embodies my whole life experience of design. Its really hard to say there's one specific inspiration because I'm inspired by everything: past experiences, present experiences. At this point in time, its a integrative process; integrating all of my experiences on a personal level and aesthetically the environment I'm around, other designers, interior design, the California landscape -- everything.

What made you want to become a designer?
There wasn't one specific moment. If someone asked me as a child, what would you be when you grow up? I would have said fashion designer. Based on my life experiences, I was directed in a different way, toward a service-oriented job. I got my Master's in education and became a teacher. I did that, and it wasn't a right fit. [My husband and I] lived in Atlanta and I started designing clothes.

How long have you been designing?
We moved out to California three and a half years ago. I had taken some sewing classes and I had been designing for a while, working with local seamstresses. When I moved to California, I found a woman who was a jack of all trades in the fashion industry. She had a modeling agency, was a fashion illustrator, and assisted different designers. I kind of had a private tutorial, where she taught me about fashion illustrating, draping, pattern making, sewing, all that kind of stuff. We worked together to create a collection. It started building on each other, and from that I eventually created my first collection

Why did you choose to be apart of Scottsdale Fashion Week?
Jeffrey Moss is someone who came to me in the first season and became my mentor. He helped me bring my collection together and helped get me a sales avenue. He's kind of a jack of all trades, too -- he knows a lot. Now he's working in sales and brought us into Scottsdale Fashion Week. I've never visited Scottsdale before and when we arrived here, I was like, "this is so beautiful!" I don't know much about Scottsdale, so I'm excited to visit, and the weather is amazing.

Are there any designers that you admire or draw inspiration from?
Definitely Valentino and Givenchy, the couturiers of the past. People have asked before who do you think you would stand next to in a Barneys or Saks, and I would have to say contemporary designer Jason Wu.

What are some essential elements to your line?
I think today, women are really into functionality. What can I wear if I don't have a lot of ample time to spend hours and hours getting ready. Women are looking for something that is easy to look beautiful in without taking hours and hours. I use a lot of pleating, and a lot of other things that I feel are distinctly southern and reminiscent of days gone by.

I'm trying to incorporate that with something like right now, the 80's look is really in, so I'm trying to combine those elements: Something that is very southern and feminine with something that is very wearable and current.

Where else have you shown your collection?
This is my first fashion show ever. Previously, we have shown at market weeks. Honestly, I don't even know what to expect. People keep asking me, "Are you excited? Are you nervous?" Of course I'm excited. Jeffrey has done lots of fashion shows, so he knows the whole kit and caboodle about what happens.

Where do you see yourself and your line in the future?
My goal as a designer is to be able to create a business where I'm able to maintain my design aesthetic, wherever that takes me. We started as a high-end designer business in a bad economy.

Short term, my goal is to create a business that is sustainable and to find and create a product that women out there really love. After that, I want to create something to maintain that as it goes forward.

Where can people find your pieces?
We are mostly in boutiques across the country, and also on our website. But there are a lot of things in the works. When the economy was really good, stores were jumping all over new designers. Now, stores are saying, "We love what you're doing we'll take a look at you next season to see if you have that lasting power."

Kidd's show will be Friday at 7:15 p.m. on the Main Tent Stage Runway. You can catch other national designers such as Carolina Herrera and Betsey Johnson that night until 9:30 p.m., and again on Saturday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

All Scottsdale Fashion Week events will be held at Scottsdale Fashion Square, 7014-590 E. Camelback Rd., From Thursday to Saturday. Tickets can be purchased through the Scottsdale Fashion Week website. Click here for a map and parking instructions.

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