Southern starlet, Laura Kathleen Planck is turning heads among the fashion set. As one of the top contenders of this season’s Project Runway, she has wowed the judges with her high fashion looks. In her hometown of St. Louis, M.O., Planck has won praise for her ready-to-wear fashion line, Laura Kathleen Designs. For a young designer, all the pieces of a great fashion career are just beginning to be sewn together.
“Being on the show (Project Runway) is really exciting because it solidifies and acknowledges all the hard work we do,” says Planck, “And then it is so nice to win (a challenge) and have that feeling that all that hard work is worth it.”
Planck, a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a degree in Design, Merchandizing and Textiles, started her own fashion line when she was just 23. Based in St. Louis, Laura Kathleen Designs showcases Planck’s glamorous style with long maxi dresses, 70’s – inspired wide leg pants and smart blazers.
“I’m inspired by vintage silhouettes and that vintage glam. It’s no secret that I’m in love with Marilyn Monroe and all those old black and white photos of pinups, so I take a little inspiration from that,” says Planck, “I modernize it by pairing [my designs] with different color palettes. So it’s very glammy aesthetic. I’m a glammy girl.”
Although Planck is inspired by vintage glam, Project Runway is a show that often forces contestants to design under bizarre parameters. Planck shined in the second episode, winning the outdoor runway challenge to design for stilt walkers with a dramatic red gown.
“It was great to win the Project Runway outdoor [stilt] runway challenge because it was the first time Project Runway has done that challenge,” said Planck.
With an early win under her fashionable belt, Planck has continued to prove her skill and creativity on the show. She won praise, and a spot in the coveted top three, with her yellow and cream chiffon gown that was inspired by artwork from students at the Harlem School of the Arts.
“I think the challenges believe it or not make it a little easier to be inspired,” Planck says, “Because it’s like here are your guidelines, this is what you can use and this is the purpose it should serve. So they kind of map it all out for you. I think it actually makes that process easier.”
This season of Project Runway is nearing the end and fans of Planck are waiting anxiously to see if she will be named among the top three contestants chosen to create a collection to for New York Fashion Week. Planck cannot discuss the outcome of the show, but she does talk about a new collection that she has been designing– one she says has been influenced by her eventful year.
“It’s been emotional journey that I’ve been going through in the past year. I think emotions are the best thing to pull from as a designer. And if you really look and listen and kind of let it circle what’s going on, it can lead you down really neat paths,” Planck said.
Her latest collection features body-skimming designs in black and neutrals with strong hardware elements. It’s a sophisticated look for Planck who always impresses with her well-constructed and wearable designs.
“I have a lot of inspiration from the Southern modesty where women still like to be sexy, but you have to show the right parts or else it becomes trashy. I think that that’s something that I definitely get from the south. You don’t bare it all, give a little teaser that still leaves people imagining,” Planck said.
Once the whirlwind of Project Runway wraps up, Planck plans to return to St. Louis to continue to build her fashion line. With a new collection to produce, she hopes that Laura Kathleen Designs will begin to manufacture locally soon. Keeping her business local and creating jobs in the St. Louis community remains a priority for Planck.
On top of it all, Planck teaches a fashion design course at a local high school to help budding designers learn the craft. Her advice to the students is simple: “You’re always going to get rejected somewhere, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t great. There is a lot of rejection before there is a door opening,” says Planck. “It took me four times trying out for Project Runway before making it.”
With grace and composure like this, it should be no surprise that she has southern roots.