Audry Harrold interviewing at Saint Louis Fashion Fund.jpg

Saint Louis Fashion Fund is celebrating 5 years of fashion-forward influence. Since its 2014 inception, the fund has raised almost $3 million for fashion across the metro area by creating a vibrant garment district of fashion businesses, jobs and economic development – putting St. Louis back on the map as a thriving fashion capital. Ladue News recently caught up with the fund’s program manager, Audra Harrold, to learn more about its fifth anniversary events, past wins and future goals.

Tell us about Saint Louis Fashion Fund’s big wins in its first five years.

We have assisted with the promotion of St. Louis’ fashion industry to manufacturers, designers and suppliers – starting with Evolution St. Louis, a first-of-its-kind high-tech knitwear facility in the U.S. Opening later this fall, it is projected to bring 50-plus local jobs in its first year and will soon create an industry sector for the entire country, based in St. Louis.

The fund has supported and continues to support emerging fashion brands both in-house and in the community – Audra Noyes’ AUDRA, Reuben Reuel’s Demestik, as well as designer brands by Michael Drummond, Lux & Nyx, Summersalt and more.

Proof of the fund’s growing reputation can be found in attention from notable national fashion industry experts, such as Fern Mallis, founder of New York Fashion Week; Gary Wassner, chief executive officer of Hilldun and chairman of Interluxe Holdings; and Christene Barberich, global editor-in-chief and co-founder of Refinery29, who have served as judges for the fund’s Caleres Emerging Designer Awards.

Former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley has made several visits to St. Louis and has become a strong advocate for the fund’s mission. The legendary Iris Apfel also visited St. Louis 2 years ago when she was honored by the fund.

We have annually reached 250-plus youth, ages 14 to 18, with on-site and in-school design education programs. We are most proud of the fund’s ongoing community outreach and free public programming – Creative Process and Speaking of Fashion series – annually reaching 2,000-plus people.

Describe the fund’s fall programs.

The fund is providing extensive exposure and retail opportunities this fall with our in-house Fashion Lab residents and area designers. Look for the designers around town to include FACTORY Fashion Show & Night Market at Lusso boutique Oct. 12 and PALM Health Nov. 16, and our holiday shopping event Dec. 7 at the fund. Several of our accessory designers are part of the “Finishing Touches” exhibit through March 2020 at the Field House Museum. Michael Drummond is exhibiting at both The Sheldon (“It’s Not You, It’s Me: A Declaration of Independence”) and the World Chess Hall of Fame (“Being Played”).

Tell us about the fund’s fifth anniversary celebration, Fashion’s Night Out.

Think New York City’s Met Gala comes to St. Louis Oct. 19. The attire will include everything from formal gowns to eclectic ensembles which will enter on a red carpet. Attendees can expect to enjoy the best of Paris, New York, Milan and London fashion weeks presented by Neiman Marcus in a seated runway fashion show. They will also get the exclusive opportunity to meet and mingle with local designers, who will showcase their designs for a highly anticipated live auction event. Our special guest will be Dapper Dan, the eponymous American fashion designer and haberdasher from Harlem, New York. This will be the party of the year.

What’s next for the fund?

We are strategically and efficiently moving forward in the space of supporting our local designers, educating our next generation and fueling economic development. We are going to be the new city that designers, manufacturers, photographers, models and anyone and everyone in the fashion world will flock to.

Saint Louis Fashion Fund, 1533 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314-400-9300, saintlouisfashionfund.org

Fashion’s Night Out: The Art of Fashion

What: Saint Louis Fashion Fund’s fifth anniversary celebration

When: Oct. 19, 6 p.m.

Where: Neiman Marcus, 1701 S. Lindbergh Blvd., Frontenac

Cost: $250 per person

Information:saintlouisfashionfund.org