Stylist Anna Redmon branches
out into the design world
BY STEPHANIE STEWART
I met with Anna Redmon to look at her collection up close in her agent’s Marathon Village offices. There, amid the stylish space dividers and vintage wood floors, we carefully looked over a rack of her clothes. Fresh from use at photoshoots and on the runway (her recent Nashville show was a tremendous success), they’re slightly wilted, but no less gorgeous for it. Redmon’s style is distinct, inspired by the ‘50s and ‘60s, with little quirky touches of the ‘30s—and yet wholly modern. Redmon has made a name for herself over the past few years as a stylist, dressing some of Music City’s best known. She utilized her abundant sewing skills to create original pieces to use for her clients but had resisted the urge to start a line. Until now. She’s decided, however, that the time is right, and taken her work to the next stage.
The line goes by the name “Norma Clare”—for Redmon’s grandmother, about whom she easily falls into conversation. Norma Clarice Daniel was the matriarch of an artistic family, but to her granddaughter represented the truly free-spirited element, who inspired her to have faith in herself and her abilities. “She was very creative,” begins Redmon. “She was a painter, a tennis player, a great tailor—oh, and she had a bass boat. She always dressed impeccably. She wasn’t worried about what anyone thought, either, she was just herself. She had a fire about her, and made me feel accepted, inspired me.”
Raised in a small Alabama logging town, Redmon found herself learning about sewing from her grandmother and mother. A tall, athletic, broad-shouldered girl, in a place with few shopping options, she quickly learned to make crucial items, including prom dresses, to fit her atypical proportions. Creating clothing came easily to her, so much so that she found herself dressing her twin sister as well.
Tragedy struck when Redmon was 15—her grandfather suffered a heart attack and her beloved grandmother, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, sunk deeper into the disease as a result of shock and stress. As soon as she got her driver’s licence, Redmon moved in with her grandparents, three hours away. When she was 21, her grandmother finally passed away. Ten years have passed since that day, and Redmon feels that the passage of a decade has allowed her to grow into the woman her grand- mother would have wished, and that she’s truly come in to her own. She started the line to honor her grandmother, naming it for her.
For Norma Clare, Redmon is inspired by vintage looks the original Norma would have loved. The fabrics she chooses often inspire her garments, underlining one of the distinctive things about her work—she tends to choose cloth of a heavier weight and drape than many contemporary designers, and she also finishes garments appropriately (skirt linings and so on). The result is a clean line and shape—a great example being a full-skirted strapless dress, with the skirt’s drape reminiscent of a ‘50s party dress at a shorter length, but gorgeously maintaining its form, sans the addition of a petticoat. It’s a look contemporary designers try to achieve with a bubble skirt, but rarely manage, since they tend to use lighter, more fluid textiles. “I buy fabric all over,” confesses Redmon. “Like most designers, I’m all about the feel, hand, texture, structure of the fabric. I buy random bolts of fabric in warehouses.” The current collection has a cool, neutral feel, in shades of beige, bronze, light teal, muted purple, cream and a mix of grays and browns. The textures of the fabrics—linens with warp and weft in contrasting colors, intricately patterned jacquards—provide as much interest to the eye as the colors. Everything in the collection also has the ability to flatter a wide variety of body types. “I speak a lot on how to dress for your body to women,” says Redmon. “It’s really all about playing up your best feature. Some women have great shoulders, some have great legs—everyone has something.”
Ultimately, Redmon says she’s doing this because she loves it. She recalls having two career choices after high school—studying music or clothing design. She went to college on a music scholarship, and she still does some session work, sometimes with her musician husband, but the path she took led her straight back to clothing, and the inspiration of her grandmother. “I don’t have anything to prove, and I’m finally so comfortable in my own skin,” says Redmon. “Too many people measure success by what TV says—I don’t measure myself by a standard, but by how much I enjoy what I’m doing. It’s good for me to do this now—it was time.” We agree—the clothes are gorgeous, the line shows promise and anything that keeps Redmon on her creative toes is bound to be a good thing for those of us hoping to wear the clothes she designs.
The Closet Makeover
Not long ago, Nashville Lifestylesgave away a free closet makeover with celebrity stylist and designer Anna Redmon. The winner was Veronica Mackey, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical science at Meharry Medical College. The talented young woman is about to go out and face the job market—and she’s recently lost two dress sizes. She looks great, loves the idea of finding new ways to use her favorite clothes and hopes to add a few new pieces to her collection. In the makeover process, Redmon surveyed Mackey’s closet, and quickly determined that she’d been hanging on to pieces that no longer fit, long after she’d lost weight. “She doesn’t need things that are oversized, and they’re taking up a lot of room,” says Redmon. She also noticed Mackey had very little color in her wardrobe. “Black isn’t always the best, and while we tend to think of it as slimming, when there’s too much, you don’t have a whole lot of options.” She identified the best items to keep, and began to pull out everything Mackey no longer needed, to completely reshape her wardrobe (and leave her closet clean and easy to find specific garments in). They also sorted shoes—Mackey had an abundant assortment—narrowing them down to what she’d need and wear. Redmon culled garments that were too big, and also sweaters and cardigans that were worn, a lot of excess (and duplicated) black clothing and things with a boxy shape that didn’t flatter Mackey’s figure. There was plenty to keep as well, including a great little black date dress, pieces in brilliant colors that looked terrific on Mackey, a good pair of trouser jeans and a fitted jacket that nipped in at the waist.
With the closet de-cluttered, Redmon shared tips with Mackey about what shapes and styles were the most figure-flattering for her new svelte form, and discussed ways to use color. She added some key pieces, including a colorful casual dress and a great Vera Wang gold top (which paired perfectly with either jeans or dress pants). The top, Redmon says, is a great example of how to find excellent pieces if you’re on a budget—from Wang’s Simply Vera line for Kohl’s department stores, it looks pricey, but isn’t. Now, with a clean slate and a wardrobe she’s eager to wear, Mackey not only looks and feels great, but she has guidelines for choosing other things that will work with what she has, and make sure she looks amazing.