When it comes to career choices, children have big imaginations. Future astronauts, presidents, and ballerinas fill elementary school classrooms. Typically, kids’ interests change with age. Not very many of them stick with their original career choices. As for Gunnar Deatherage, he knew what he loved very early on. He began sewing around the age of 7. Over time, his strong interest in sewing clothing and learning the ropes of fashion has blossomed, along with his skills in fashion designing. Deatherage is far from reaching his peak.
Two years ago, the 21-year-old Louisvillian established his own fashion line. The line, named Deatherage Designs, was launched at a fashion show in Jeffersonville, Ind. Deatherage describes his line’s clothing as classy. “I always try to keep my clothing very tasteful. The preconceived idea [of] my designs being insane and over the top would be completely false… I like for my art to be able to be worn every day.” Chanel, his biggest designer inspiration, has a “classic style and [a] timeless look [that] appeals to me and reflects in my clothing.”
Apart from everyday attire, Deatherage has mastered the art of creating edgy dresses. Courtney Blanton, his fashion muse, models many of his edgy, high fashion dresses. He makes his pieces “not for her, but about her.” He has a deep connection with her and draws his biggest inspiration from her. “She is my ‘Edie’ and I’m her ‘Warhol’.”
Along with edgy dresses, Deatherage handcrafts vintage-inspired bathing suits “created to accentuate the woman’s natural body.” He also sews trendy tops, skirts, and couture gowns.
One of his couture gowns recently achieved great recognition. Last month, Sherry Trenaman Howell of Louisville was named the Julep Ball Survivor Ambassador, representing the thousands of cancer patients who received compassionate care and treatment from the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Howell took part in the first fitting of the couture ball gown being made exclusively for her by Deatherage. She flaunted the beautiful pale pink gown on the red carpet two weeks ago at Louisville’s annual Julep Ball.
Incredibly, being a full-time fashion designer isn’t Deatherage’s only forte. He’s also a licensed cosmetologist and works at an AVEDA concept salon in Floyds Knobs, Ind. His busy schedule is obviously a challenge. “[It seems like] there’s not enough time in the day. There are weeks where I put 40 hours in at the salon and 50 to 60 hours at home.” But Deatherage doesn’t always see his fashion designing as work. “There comes a point… where it’s not a job because I love it so much. In all honesty it’s a stress reliever from the rest of the world, almost a meditative state.”
Last fall, Deatherage was a key player in the Fashion with a Passion Retro Runway Show. He and his friends developed the show as a way to kick off their foundation, The Basement Project, and give back to the community through their art. Through debuting his metamorphosis-inspired collection at the show and reaching out to the community, The Basement Project, whose goal is to connect the world of fashion with a world in need, has collected over $2,000 dollars for a charity for Moroccan children.
So what’s next on the map for this promising fashion designer? Only time will tell. Regardless of where he ends up, Deatherage plans to bring the fashion world to Louisville. “I understand that the fashion world brings designers to the big city, but Louisville is my home… No matter what I do with my fashion I plan to keep Louisville at heart.”
Photo courtesy of: Lana Wilson Photography