INTERVIEW WITH ECO-COUTURE DESIGNER, DEBORAH LINDQUIST
HI DEBORAH! WELCOME TO VERTE LUXE. PLEASE TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE STORY BEHIND YOUR COMPANY, DEBORAH LINDQUIST ECO COUTURE.
Hi! I started in fashion in New York City and went to Parson’s School of Design. Prior to that, I lived on a farm in Minnesota. When I went to school, there was really no word for Sustainable Fashion. Honestly, that was one of the luckiest things that happened to me, going to that school. I basically wrote my own program, along with another girl. We were very serious and we did really well. We got out of school and both of us got hired right away.
I first started working for a big sleepwear and lingerie company and then I began working at Garanimals in the Empire State Building, which was a very exciting place to work on the 35th floor. I designed infant and toddler boys for Garanimals.
While working there, I had an idea for a belt because I found some interesting material at a trim house. It was one of those trim houses that was just full of stuff and I dug around there and I found some really cool metal mesh. I started making belts and I quit my job. My father had recently passed away and had left me some inheritance money. I took that money and invested in some equipment and taught myself how to make belts. It was a very unusual belt because it was a flexible mesh, not your typical chainmail. I launched my belt line with literally one belt. But I started getting orders right away. It was 1983 and the economy was good, stores were really excited to be carrying unique pieces from young people who were doing cool things. It was a very exciting time to be in New York and to get started.
I did belts for 9 years, then I moved to LA and interviewed with someone who knocked my belt line off and did it really badly. That was my “welcome to Los Angeles moment”. Because of that, I decided to do something different. I started making one of a kind jackets out of vintage materials (curtain fabrics of tropicals, the romantics, jacquards). Jackets were popular at the time and padded shoulder jackets were huge. In the midst of all of that, I started doing bustiers. Those were also really popular. I found a store that loved my work and I started doing one of a kind pieces for them.
YOU HAVE CREATED SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ECO-CONSCIOUS WEDDING GOWNS I HAVE SEEN. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE CREATION OF YOUR DRESSES?
In terms of my wedding dresses, I did a group of them using vintage beaded wool. I have a thing for vintage fabrics. Non-traditional brides usually come to me, but then I have some traditional brides that want a sustainable wedding dress. The beading of dresses is so interesting to me. With the beaded bustiers, I pair them with english net full skirts. I love my bustiers and they pair very well with the skirts. I like to bead them with anything from freshwater pearls to precious stones, like labradorite.
A lot of my gowns are two piece so they are interchangeable, but I also have full gown silhouettes made of hemp silks. The hemp silk has such a beautiful drape to it. I decided to try something new and do a series of minimalist dresses. They are very simple, made from hemp silk and cut on the bias. I like to pair them with one of my belts. I have my bridal belts beaded from a fair-trade company out of India. It’s a nice choice of accessory to add to a minimalist dress. That can be your bling!
ENLIGHTEN US! TELL US HOW YOU GOT INTO SUSTAINABLE WEDDING GOWN DESIGN AND WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DESIGN TO DATE?
I started getting asked to do bustiers and head pieces for brides, which was my launch into bridal.
I had an amazing bride from South Africa who wanted me to design a white feather collar for her. She had seen some of my steampunk designs and wanted a collar for her wedding. She was incredible! She sent me pictures and a necklace as inspiration. She was such a fun, lovely bride. I love brides who want to do a theme or a unique spin on the traditional wedding. I had a bride who was one of my models and she wore one of my pieces that is a flesh toned wedding gown with rust colored beading on it. I really love the choosing of color as an option to the traditional white dress. I also have some bridal that is made from embroidered Kimono.
A lot of my gowns are limited edition or one of a kind, but I can work with brides. If you like a color or a silhouette, I can also work to re-create that look using similar fabrics. I got into wedding gown design because people kept asking me to make their wedding gowns. So I did that, and then I made my own…It’s a hard thing to make your own! I’ve found that in any economy, people will still get married. I’ve been working to attract the more unique, less traditional brides and helping them to get the dress that is perfectly individual to them.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SUSTAINABLE DESIGN TRENDS FOR 2017/2018?
Rather than following trends, I use more of a couture element to my design. You learn over time that being individual may be the thing that works for you and I think that’s great.
What I personally like for me; I love beading, the hand-done beading. And I love hemp silk. It’s heavy, drapey and is lovely to work with. It’s one of my favorite fabrics and I’ve used it for years. My designs are less traditional and go with a feeling or the materials I have found, rather than a trend. I do well with blogs and photo shoots, partnering with like-minded designers and photographers to showcase my designs. My mother’s wedding headpiece was the inspiration for my headpiece line. I have her dress, actually. My grandmother made it.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR USE OF VINTAGE AND RE-PURPOSED MATERIALS IN YOUR “GREEN QUEEN” LINE OF CLOTHING AND HOME FASHION.
I’m actually in the midst of retail land at this time of year. I am working with a friend and colleague to sell my accessories in her store, Tweak in Los Angeles. She’s opened a second high-end gift shop in the new Fred Segal complex and I sell my pieces there as well. Scarves, Eye Pillows, Vintage Matchboxes…etc. What I hear from people when they are talking to me about shopping is that they are getting bored with traditional retail…..they are looking for something more unique, handmade, creative and one of a kind.
I think we’ve gotten to the end of something very bad and the pendulum is swinging in a different direction. People throw
away the most amazing things and that is why I find really beautiful fabrics in rag houses. I dig through piles of stuff to find cool things to work with. All of my pieces are made at our studio in Los Angeles. I am about to launch a new line for Green Queen made completely out of Modal, which is on the horizon for next year.
TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE GREEN BRIDES?
One of my favorite brides is Ali Lovelace. She is just the nicest girl ever. She came to me as a model on one of my shoots and we quickly became friends. She had actually picked out a different dress than the one she ended up wearing. We worked on a barter system, which I loved doing. We did photo shoots together, she helped me with other things, it was a great fit. Her dress was perfect for her. It was an illusion neckline, two piece and it fit her perfectly.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC CHARITIES THAT YOU WORK WITH FOR DEBORAH LINDQUIST ECO-COUTURE?
I’m working on a project for the LA Zoo. I did a fashion show for the Zoo earlier in the year. It’s their 50th Anniversary and they also have a sustainable program where they help to save endangered species by helping them in captivity. They really do a have a sustainable program to save the endangered species. Without the help of the zoo, the species would become extinct. I did a fashion show with them and we had 13 models and it was really fun. I designed a collection of vintage cashmere sweaters with zoo animals-Tigers, elephants, alligators and so on. This year, I am doing a program where I’ll be giving a 20% charitable contribution back to the zoo during the holidays this year. Anything that is zoo related that is sold will go back to the zoo.