Waterfront Fashion Week will make its debut showing Wednesday with the aim of shining a spotlight not only upon Louisville's nascent fashion scene, but also upon Waterfront Park, the Big Four Bridge Project, and Kentuckiana as a whole. In this interview with event organizers Peggy Hagerty Duffy and Clinton Deckard, and fashion consultant Jo Ross, they explain how they first came together to create Waterfront, their intended goals for the event, and what to expect upon entering the tent from the 17th through the 20th.
Cameron Miquelon: Could each of you being by telling us a little bit about your backgrounds?
Peggy Hagerty Duffy: Clinton has a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Purdue University. He worked as a general contractor for ten years before starting his own construction management firm in 1999. He either was the contractor for or the manager of every phase of Waterfront Park, including the ongoing Big Four Bridge project.
Clinton is very involved in community projects and organizations, including Oldham County Youth Sports, the Waterfront Clean Team, and a number of other efforts.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering with a concentration in geotechnical engineering, both from the University of Louisville. I worked as a consultant for several national firms before i started my own geotechnical engineering firm in 1997. I have worked on hundreds of projects throughout Kentucky and southern Indiana, including the Big Four bridge, Liberty Green, the Louisville Water Company Riverbank Filtration project, and many others.
I also am heavily involved in community projects and organizations, including Jeffersonville CityPride, the U of L Speed School of Engineering Alumni Council, the Jeffersonville Cultural Resources Council, and others.
Jo Ross: I have over 40 years in the fashion business, with a myriad of related roles. I appear on WHAS-TV, FOX 41, WAVE-TV, and WLKY-TV to report on fashion trends, events, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, etc. I also have written fashion articles for The Courier-Journal, Louisville Magazine, The Voice-Tribune, Today's Woman, and Business First. I produce fashion shows, and have produced shows for Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Geoffrey Beene, Albert Nipon, as well as The Voice-Tribune, The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, The Kentucky Derby Museum, The Derby Festival, The Museum of History and Science, Louisville Ballet, Louisville Orchestra, Heuser Hearing Institute, and many other charitable and commercial clients.
In 1977, I formed a collection of historic clothing and accessories that now numbers over 22,000 items, dating from 1805 to 1990, and is the property of the Louisville Science Center. Numerous commercial clients acquire my services to advise their employees on appropriate attire, and behavior. The Mall St. Matthews, Oxmoor Center, and The Summit have acquired my services to direct fashion-related programs for children and teens in the area. I am an accredited member of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Press Association.
Miquelon: At the end of January of this year, you had announced that Louisville would have its first-ever fashion week, to be held at Waterfront Park in mid-October later in the year. What inspired you and your colleagues to put together Waterfront Fashion Week?
Deckard: Waterfront Fashion Week originally was designed as a fundraiser/economic development activity that would span the river via the Big Four bridge to connect the proposed Jeffersonville Canal District with Waterfront Park and downtown Louisville. When the new Jeffersonville mayor killed the canal project, the function was decided to be held entirely on the Louisville side.
We were involved with the canal project, as well as the Big Four, and we have a strong allegiance to Waterfront Development Corporation, who is a great client and steward of one of the best parks in the world. We thought this project could be a springboard for more development of the fashion industry in this area, as well as a great fundraiser for Waterfront Park.
Duffy: I love great clothes. I am not in the fashion industry, and I am not someone who explores heavily the artistic side of fashion; you will not find me sporting the latest metal-studded maxi dress with contrasting plaid platforms and razor blade earrings. But I felt like there are a lot of people in Louisville who span the spectrum of interest in fashion, from those who are intrigued by the reflection of current garment shapes on the socioeconomic condition of the country to those who just like cute outfits. I wanted to come up with a function that would appeal to most of that range of people and produce opportunities for the many facets of the fashion industry to flourish in our area.
Miquelon: Ms. Ross, how did you find yourself involved with Waterfront Fashion Week?
Ross: Peggy contacted me almost two years ago to advise them on the feasibility and planning of Waterfront Fashion Week.
Miquelon: How long did it take to go from planning to the upcoming final result?
Ross: Almost two years.
Miquelon: Aside from the Big Four of Fashion Weeks (New York, London, Paris and Milan), other cities have had their own fashion weeks in the past, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Charleston. Why did Louisville take so long to join the crowd?
Duffy: You could speculate for hours on why Louisville has not had a fashion week thus far. It is an enormous effort to produce, and it is possible that we have so many other great functions that those interested might have been afraid that a fashion week couldn’t compete against things like sporting events, the Derby Festival, etc. But we believe there is interest, as well as room, in Louisville’s busy schedule.
Were there any attempts to hold a fashion week in Louisville before, and if so, what were the circumstances that led to each attempt’s failure before getting off the ground?
Duffy: We are not familiar with past attempts at a comprehensive fashion week in Louisville.