Category Archives: Custom Garments

Omaha Salon competing for Battle of the Strands

So, I’m not a huge fan of reality television but my interest is officially piqued.  An Omaha salon, Fringes, is in the running to go to Las Vegas to be filmed for the show Battle of the Strands.  Battle of the Strands is ” the extreme beauty show featuring your favorite stylists and salons from across the country. An epic showdown of extreme genius in hair, makeup, wardrobe, and styling with limited time and unlimited creativity!” (according to the Battle of the Strands website).  They claim that the styling challenges on the show will match that drama and magic of Vegas which includes showgirls, lions and mummies!  (Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE theatricality?!)

On top of the crazy styling that is bound to happen, I’m also really excited about this show because one of the stylists on the Fringes team is Omar Rodriguez.  He is friend of mine and also does a fantastic job on the runway when I ask him to model for me.  Also, Omar is a huge supporter of local artists and designers and one of my favorite Omaha clients.  In Fringes’ Battle of the Strands submission video, Omar wears an outfit that includes a custom vest/pant combo designed by myself. And he looks great, as usual.

Omaha hair stylist Omar Rodriguez wearing custom Audio Helkuik garments in Fringes Salon’s submission video for Battle of the Strands 2012.  (Photo credit: Dale Heise)


Omar Rodriguez modelling for Audio Helkuik in Omaha Fashion Week’s Avant Garde Runway show. (Photo credit: g thompson higgins gallery)


To view Fringe’s Battle of the Strands submission video click here: Vote for Fringes Salon for Battle of the Strands 2012!

Voting goes for one more week (through Sept 13th) and you can vote once a day. As of RIGHT NOW, Fringes’ is in first place. I’m rooting for them!  Yeah Omar!   Yeah Fringes!   Yeah Omaha!


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Going from all Brown to ALL RAINBOW!

In my past collections, I’ve used browns quite liberally. Chocolate brown, tan, sand, khaki, rust…..any and all browns.  I love them and I know how to use them.

Audio Helkuik’s “h/g: you be the hunter, i’ll be the gatherer” collection on the Omaha Fashion Week runway.

Brown is my favorite color to design with.  I’m a big fan of black too, especially the brown/black combo.  My love for brown often seeps into my designs for theater costuming.

My costume design for Northwestern College’s production of “Into the Woods.” (photo credit to NWC)

Since the collection I am designing right now is all bright color and zero brown, I feel a bit out of my comfort zone but I’m all sorts of giddy about it.  I can just hear people thinking “You can’t go from ALL BROWN to ALL RAINBOWS?!?!?”  Watch me. And, you know, I’ve done it before, and it was awesome.

My partner, Cameron, and I in our brown-on-brown outfits the day we got married.

Tea party reception. All browns. (I made my outfit, so I got to pick ALL the browns in it!)

Cutting the cake together. Jeesh, I love brown.

Rainbow confetti starts invade the all brown day.

ALL BROWN turns into a super fun RAINBOW CELEBRATION!

Rainbow cake! Seriously, there were probably more pictures taken of this cake than of me and my partner.

Brown to rainbow, ta da!

Worry not, folks, you CAN go from all brown to rainbow.  My colorful collection, monoprismatic, has taken over my usually all-brown studio and I just love the color invasion!



Because I know someone is dying to know:

Rainbow cake created by Chris Janicek Cakebox:

(And it tasted SO. FREAKIN. GOOD.)


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Violent Fade armor

My sweetie rocks.  For real.  He’s in a band.

Violent Fade is a three-piece prog-rock band (progressive rock……I had to ask, too) from Omaha and Des Moines.  They practice in my basement and they are seriously good.  I mean, of course I’m biased because I’m in love with the drummer, but ya gotta trust me.  They are good.  Or don’t trust me and see for yourself.  First show: April 21st at Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines.

So, now that they’ve got gigs lined up, they are gonna need something to wear on stage.  After I chatted with the guys a bit, I decided to make them some accessories.  Some very masculine accessories.  I love making armor, so I wanted make them some armor but with a bit of a lost-boys-from-Neverland twist.  Rufio!  Rufio!   Ru-Fi-OOoooo!

So, you know how I’m kind of addicted to recycling.  These pieces have so much textile recycling going on, I can barely handle it.  The different fabrics are from all over the place: a worn out tunic dress I saved from a costume shop dumpster, some old corduroy pants, bits of lining scraps from the last garment I made, and some practice samples from a huge rug-making experiment I just finished.  The leather is from a coat and a vest.  The fur is from a vintage coat.  I only use recycled fur and leather.  I never buy new.  It’s my compromise:  I don’t want to feel like I’m actually helping the leather/fur industry because I love animals.  I also love fur and leather.  Conundrum.

I love texture.  I tried out some new texture techniques while incorporating things that I already know that I love: distressed leather, studs, fur, fringe, chain.  One texture that I’ve been trying to use more of is hair.  It’s not human hair (this time), but some synthetic strands I picked up awhile ago.

With all the handstitching and detail work on these accessories, I needed to take alot of puppy breaks. I took one of the shoulder armor pieces I had been working on and put it on my tiny pup’s head.  It makes a pretty badass bonnet. But, my tiny pup, Thor, looks good in everything.

My tiny best friend, Thor, in his badass bonnet.

The shoulder armor looks pretty badass even when it’s not worn as a puppy bonnet.

I’ve said before how I LOVE making stagewear for musicians.  It’s one of my favorite things to do.  This project was extra fun because I got to design these pieces while they practiced their music.  No need to make an inspiring playlist–Violent Fade provides live music from my basement.   This project was also extra fun because they pretty much told me “just make us some cool stuff to wear.”  Yeah….I am pretty sure I can handle making “some cool stuff.”  And I’m in love with the drummer.  So, of course this is a fun project.

Violent Fade armor

Violent Fade:


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“I will never…..”

Anytime I say I’ll never do something, I mean it at the time but eventually it comes back round to me and presents itself as a good idea.

“I’ll never pierce my septum.”   Pierced.  And stretched.

“I’ll never live in Omaha.”   Moved here.  And bought a house here.

“I’ll never get married.”   Totally m-worded.  And loving it.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that my “I’ll never do bridal wear”  turned into “And what are your colors?”

As a feminist:  I kind of hate weddings.  I think it’s all the traditions that just don’t make sense to me.  The white dress and the giving away of the bride all seem downright offensive.  I’m all about love and commitment–no problem there.   It’s the wedding that bugs me.

As a designer:  I’m still a feminist.  But, several other things keep me from doing bridal:  1) Bridezillas.   2) White’s DEFINITELY not my favorite color to work with.   3) The pressure to create “The Perfect Day.”

When my friend Maria asked me to design her wedding dress, I was pretty against it from the start.  She knew she’d have a small battle to win if she wanted an Audi original wedding dress, so she started hinting early and eased me into the idea.   Her request made me think about all of the reasons I DIDN’T want to do bridal.  From there, I realized I could just create a great dress without getting wrapped up in bridalwear world.

This is how Maria countered all my arguments:

 1) “Bridezillas.”   All she wanted was a cute strapless dress that looked nice next to her fiance’s dress. I gave her a set of sketches, and she chose the dress on the far left.

2) “White’s not my favorite color to work with.”     Maria wanted a silver and purple dress.

3)  The pressure to create “The Perfect Day.”   Maria and her fiance, Amanda, planned a low-key wedding out in the prairie.  It was full of sunshine and love.  You really can’t go wrong with sunshine and love.

I see why people love being in bridal.  While there IS a bit of pressure to helping create the “Perfect Day,” Maria showed me that there’s more to it than that.  It’s about celebration.  It’s about the couple and their future.  It’s about love.  And dangit, I freaking LOVE love.   While I won’t be opening a bridal shop anytime soon, (notice how I did NOT say “I’ll NEVER open a bridal shop”) it was an eye-opening project.   I’m so grateful I got a chance to be part of such a happy day for this couple.

Again, congrats to Maria and Amanda!

The dress was a quite a bit different than my typical projects, but that’s sometimes a good challenge.  It also provided me with a secondary challenge of recreating the dress in a way that DID fit the Audio Helkuik aesthetic a bit more.  I was working on my collection at the time, so this is the dress in a different color scheme and styled with a heavy circus influence.

Clothing and accessories: Audio Helkuik Model: Nicole Keimig Photographer: Wolfgang Kaufman Creative Director: Cherisse McCoy Hair/Makeup: Sirens at the Loft

As for the “I will never….” phenomenon, I’m just trying to watch my phrasing from now on.  I’ve already started my brainstorming on my “I’ll never do lingerie” collection.  And my “I’ll never do evening gowns” collection is going to come eventually, I can feel it.  If you hear me say “I will never….”, call me out on it.   I just want to know what’s headed my way.

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Posted by on 03.07.12 in Custom Garments


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Encore Outfit for Kaitlyn Maria Filippini

If you read my post about the custom stage outfit I did for Kaitlyn Maria Filippini, then you know how much I loved costuming her.  When she asked me to create another look for her, it was a no-brainer.  Yes.  Please.

Kaitlyn had a gig playing the national anthem for local hockey game and wanted to have a rockin’ new outfit for it.  She was planning to play it with a bit more flair than the traditional composition and needed a garment to match the awesomeness.  The direction she gave me was a tailed vest with military detailing and chain accents.  All black.  Black on black.  As usual.

It’s exactly what she was looking for, so next it was fabric selection. Black twill.  Black sheer.  Black ribbon detailing.  Black vinyl.  Did I mention that she looks GREAT in all black?  With red lipstick.  And the words “Act like a lady, think like a boss” scrawled on her forearm.  This girl rocks.

Photo Credit: Ben Semisch

Even though going to a hockey game is totally on my to-do list, I didn’t get a chance to go to the game and see her play this live.  But watch the video, and you’ll see how great she looks and sounds:

Photo Credit: Ben Semisch


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Custom Stage Outfit for Kaitlyn Maria Filippini

So I’ll admit it: I’m kind of ignorant to the local music scene in Omaha.  I’ve lived here over a year and a half, but I haven’t ventured to too many shows.  Shame on me.

So, when local musician Kaitlyn Maria Filippini approached me to do a custom stage outfit for her, I wasn’t really sure what sort of project I’d be in for.  I’d never met her personally, and I had never heard her play.  Now that I’ve met her and heard her music, I feel like I’m always telling people about Kaitlyn!  If you don’t know of her, she’s an violinist from Omaha, and she’s super awesome.  And when I say “she’s super awesome” I mean both her personality and her violin-playing skills.  This girl can play.  Kaitlyn’s more than just classical orchestral music, too.  She’s awesome at everything I’ve heard her play: an incredible Lady Gaga medley, Nicki Minaj covers, playing alongside electronica DJ’s, the national anthem.  Totally awesome.

As it turns out, the stage outfit she wanted was a very cool project.  No surprise.  She threw alot of ideas and inspiration my way.  Essentially she wanted some classy, but not traditional.  Something a bit rock’n’roll, but she also like 1920’s flapper style.  And everything should be black: black fabric, black fringe, black vinyl, black tulle all styled with black tights and black boots.  I drew up this fringed look, complete with a cropped jacket and a little fascinator.

Illustration of custom flapper/rocker stage outfit for Kaitlyn Maria Filippini

Kaitlyn loved the sketch, and so did I.   I’ve been really into millinery lately, so I have been trying out different hat-making skills little by little.  It’s a whole new exciting world of “what the heck am I doing?” so I am teaching myself slowly.   I was pumped to try out my new buckram to shape this fascinator!  (My buckram is labelled “unicorn buckram” at the store… you know it’s gotta have some secret sparkle-magic powers in it.)  (Milliners: if “unicorn buckram” is actually a sucky product, maybe let me know, but break the news to me gently……)

Flapper Fascinator on headform.

I got the fascinator shaped and stitched in less time than I thought it’d take.  The button detail always is time consuming though, especially after I had stitched all the other buttons on the jacket, too.  This look totally wiped out my vintage brass button collection.

Worth it.

Kaitlyn Maria Filippini stops by for a final fitting.

In addition to being super talented, Kaitlyn’s just fun to be around.  Tiny girl, big personality, tons of confidence, and SO much passion.  I think that’s why I like working with her so much.  I love working with people that are super passionate.   Just watch her play this Lady Gaga medley: 

I do alot of custom garments, but I don’t get too many stage outfits.  They are just fun.  Something about the stage: the lights, the performance, the ability to do over-the-top work and it all just works.  I love it.  I love costuming musicians, too.  It’s fun to design something knowing it’s inevitably going to have a rockin’ life.

Photo Credit: DS Photography

Thank you Kaitlyn for a fun project.   And thanks for being awesome!

Kaitlyn Maria Filippini website:


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