Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you, I’m not easily intimidated or at a loss for words but the very first time that I met Designer Erika Berthy designer of Gowns by Beartie, I found myself being both. We were attending a committee meeting for the Opera Guild of Dayton; I had been a fan of her work for some time but given her level of talent I wasn’t quite ready to reach out to her to see if she would be interested in showcasing at a (DE-FI) event, after all we are still rather new and we have a lot of work to do to prove that Fashion has a home here in Dayton!! Long story short I somehow managed to get the words out of my mouth to introduce myself to her without sounding like a rambling buffoon and to my surprise, she was equally excited about meeting me and said that she had been following the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC from the beginning and the rest as they say—is history!!
To say that Erika’s approach to fashion is different would be an understatement simply because she doesn’t even refer to her work as fashion, she calls it Wearable Art. When she first started explaining the concept of her work, I really didn’t understand what she meant BUT then she brought out a design called “The Passion” and I was in awe! “The Passion” wasn’t just a dress, it was literally a piece of art constructed to look like a dress and to top it off the description of each detail of “The Passion” was poetic, from the plunging neckline that exposes our heart to the slashes along the side that represent the ribs to protect the heart literally and #MetaphoricallySpeaking.
Each piece from Gowns by Beartie tells a story. So of course we couldn’t just have Erika’s runway showcase set to music…we needed a Story Teller or a Spoken Word Artist to help us deliver this #FashionExperience to the attendees of The First Flight Now Fashion Vintage Couture Ball taking place on Saturday May 10 as a part of A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance…and the first person that came to mind was local Spoken Word Artist Jay Martinez of Metaphorically Speaking. When I shared the concept of fusing Poetry and Fashion with Erika she fell in love with the idea and believe me when I say you do not want to miss her showcase that will be set to the whimsical and rapid fire lyrics of Jay Martinez who has written custom poetry for each piece that Erika will be showcasing including “Contained Energy”, “Delicate Balance”, “Discovery”, “Inner Passion”, and “Transient Layers”!!
The Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC is excited to introduce participating designers that will be taking part in A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance May 9-10, 2014!! A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance will be showcasing both emerging and established designers to help raise money for the Art of (DE-FI)ance Fashion Fund! The Fashion Fund will be used to help designers purchase materials such as fabrics to produce their lines, pay entrance fees into influential Fashion Weeks that will put them in front of buyers, as well as helping to pay for some travel expenses!! As we’ve done with Anne Agoren designer of Izzi Bags and Rebecca Huber designer of Maderas Beach Co., we set down for a Q & A with Erika to share her story and journey in Fashion with the community!
Q) How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
A) I first became interested in Fashion when I was in elementary school while watching a program on FIT I later went on to attend the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art and Planning) where I completed six Co-ops and full time internships.
Q) Who were your influences personally and professionally?
A) My parents, Audrey Hepburn, Oscar de la Renta, Givenchy, Charles James, Julie Pollack, Elma Camargo, Cynthia Lockhart, Ann Firestone, Margie Voelker-Ferrier, Julie Liveris…I could go on and on!
Q) What were some of the struggles you faced as an emerging designer and what do you consider to be your “Big Break” that took you from being an emerging designer to an established designer?
A) Funding my art has been my biggest struggle. Working with the wonderful photographer Adam Leigh-Manuell and makeup/hair artist Lydia Brock has been my biggest break.
Q) What has been your biggest challenge trying to get your start in the industry?
A) Marketing my work has always been a challeng.
Q) There are so many misconceptions about what the Fashion Industry is or what it represents, if there was one myth about the fashion industry that you could debunk what would it be and why?
A) One fashion misconception is that women always wore white for their weddings. This tradition didn’t start until Queen Victoria in 1840.
Q) Who is your target market, and when people think of your brand what is the image that you want people to see or represent?
A) My brand is wearable art, fabric sculptures designed to enhance your body, reflect your style and transcend stereotypes of purpose. My target market is strong women who appreciate art and stand out from the crowd.
Q) Why is it so important for Fashion to be embraced in smaller markets like Dayton, OH?
A) Fashion needs to be embraced in smaller markets like Dayton to help support and keep artists in the community.
Q) What are you most excited about in terms of your participation in A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance and what are you hoping to get out of this experience?
A) I’m excited to be involved in an event that promotes emerging designers, I’m hoping to introduce my work to a new audience.
Q) What advice do you have for those seeking a career in fashion?
A) Read Steven Pressfield’s The War on Art. Also check out Nine Heads, a fantastic Fashion Illustration book. Go on internships, explore the many facets of the industry and ask questions.
For more information on how you can make a fashion Statement in A Gown by Beartie, please send all inquiries to [email protected] You can also see her work first hand at during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance by purchasing your tickets today at Salon J Ladner located at 37 S. St.Clair St., Dayton, OH 45402, American Pi Dayton located at 39. S. St. Clair St., Dayton, OH 45402 Beaute Box located 116 W. 5th St., Dayton OH, 45402, American Pi Lebanon located at 748 E. Columbus Ave., Lebanon OH. You can also purchase your tickets online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-
For more information on the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC or how you or your company can be a part of this ground breaking event, text “DEFI” to 55469. We are currently looking for volunteers, Makeup Artist, and Hair Stylist to help with production. Also, if you would like to become a sponsor or take out an ad in (DE-FI)ance Magazine we have affordable packages available that start as low as $35!! We’re #TakingItToTheNextLevel #FirstFlightNowFashion.