Local (and locally trained) designers make their mark on the fashion world

Other cities may not see Cincinnati as a fashion mecca, but a resurgence of local talent—and events like Cincinnati Fashion Week—have emerged and placed the city on the fashion map. And whether it’s jewelry, shoes or even a couture gown, the following ladies have got you covered. Their stories are as inspiring as their work, and proof that with passion and dedication the results can be beautiful.

Lindsey Lusignolo: Lindsey Lusignolo 

Lindsey Lusignolo found her love of costume design while studying at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Over-the-Rhine; she loved creating pieces that were part of a bigger story. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Lusignolo attended the University of Cincinnati’s college of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) before launching her own eponymous couture bridal and evening wear line. Lusignolo starts a project by making tangible representations of what she wants the collection to emulate. She uses mood boards created with photos, fabric and trim scraps. During her final process, designs may change and fabrics swap until the collection comes together and is perfected. Coming from a background in costume design, Lusignolo tends to look back to her favorite time periods and pulls certain elements. Her Fall 2011 collection was shown at Cincinnati Fashion Week, and she is currently in production for Spring 2012. You can find pieces of her line at her working studio/design house at 1329 Main in OTR.

I fell in love with OTR and knew one day I wanted to come back there and become a part of the pioneers that are rebuilding the community. I love being an OTR gal; it’s home to me.

Chelsea Cutrell: PARIS by Debra Moreland/Lucet

Chelsea Cutrell knew early on that art and design were in her future. After taking art classes at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and graduating from DAAP, she is now an artisan in the veil department of PARIS by Debra Moreland, a bridal accessories design studio in Northside. Cutrell also makes jewelry and clothing which are sold at the Brush Factory boutique and teaches the factory’s ongoing Vorkurs I (Sewing 101) and Vorkurs II (Garment Design 101) classes. Travel and the study of anthropology are some of her favorite ways to find new sources of inspiration. Cutrell is currently working on a jewelry line called “Lucet” with friend and fellow DAAP grad David Nebert. The two pair crystals, dried leaves and found objects with lightbulb terrariums to create necklaces, window/lighting adornments and mobiles.

Often I will look to nature as a source of inspiration…I find it fascinating and refreshing.

Amy Kirchen: Amy Kirchen 

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Amy Kirchen was inspired from an early age by the fashions she saw in the pages of Vogue. Completely self-taught, Kirchen now designs ready-to-wear cocktail and couture. In May, she opened her own boutique offering her ready-to-wear designs and other unique handpicked designers. When designing for a client, Kirchen’s inspiration comes from their personality, which helps her create something that is one-of-a-kind and perfect. She is inspired by the everyday world and the simple beauty of women. Right now, the ready-to-wear Fall/Winter 2011 line is available at her boutique in Milford. She is currently finishing her Spring/Summer 2012 collection and has several other projects up her sleeve in the upcoming months.

I like to tell a story with my collections. Different inspirations cause different emotions.


Growing up with two artistic parents, Anne Pachan was destined for design success. After attending DAAP, Pachan completed internships at Ellen Tracy, Banana Republic and Peter Som before launching her swimwear line CALA OSSIDIANA, which she plans to expand to include cover-ups, accessories, sweaters and hats. For her current collection, resort 2011/spring 2012, Pachan was inspired by Sonia Delaunay’s color work and the looks worn at Riviera resorts in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Her creative process is always ongoing, creating mood boards and sketching her ideas until she reaches her final product. Pachan runs CALA OSSIDIANA as a sustainable, eco-friendly business.

I think you must be able to find inspiration anywhere—just keep your eyes open and see what is there, and combine and adapt everything in your view to create new beauty.

Lisa Bruemmer: tree & kimball

After graduating from DAAP in 2005, Lisa Bruemmer left her hometown of Cincinnati to pursue a design job with Anthropologie corporate in Philadelphia. Soon she decided to venture out on her own and began her jewelry line, tree & kimball, from the comfort of her little row home. The line focuses on the use of hand-dyed lace and vintage finds. Her process begins with deciding on a color palette for each collection. The lace hand dyeing begins, usually through trial and error and “mad scientist style” mixing shades until she likes what she sees. She loves designing pieces with a loved one or friend in mind. Once all the colors have been brewed to her liking, she sorts through the combination of elements until it seems like everything is exactly in its place. Right now, Bruemmer is finishing up her late summer collection, which is full of bright shades such as papaya and saffron tempered with mellower shades of silver and charcoal.

In my mind, (designing) is a lot like solving a puzzle—there is something so rewarding about the visual completion.

Jenifer Sult: Cut and Sewn 

Jenifer Sult ended up in Cincinnati by pure accident. While visiting a friend during the fall, she fell in love with the city and the people and never left. Sult studied fashion design at UC and now runs her own Etsy shop, Cut and Sewn, which features clothing and accessories for women—though many of her items are unisex. Sult can find inspiration from almost anywhere. Her friends, architecture, books and music inspire her the most—and an occasional trip to the Cincinnati Art Museum always helps too. Currently, Sult is getting fall accessories ready to add to her Etsy store and is thrilled with the success of her summer collection. Her creative process is a little scattered and usually involves working on several things at once. Her favorite part of the process is finding materials, researching and patternmaking. Right now, she is designing a line of Fall/Winter sweaters and jackets that incorporate hand knitting and crochet as well as reclaimed fabrics. She’s hoping to launch the collection in November with a trunk show at a local boutique or gallery. Truly a jack-of-all-trades, Sult is also developing some accessory patterns to be sold to DIY-ers (or hopefully to publish into a book).

I designed a clear vinyl rain hat like the one my grandmother wore and I wasn’t at all sure that the world was ready for that yet, but people loved it.

Alisha Budkie: SMARTFISH Footwear

Cincinnati may not have a lack of fashion designers, but footwear is another story. Alisha Budkie graduated from the Industrial Design program at DAAP and has been designing and creating shoes for the past two years. SMARTFISH footwear is constructed using sustainable and local materials while focusing on quality and craftsmanship. When starting a new pattern, Budkie focuses on function and materials. Through several iterations, she figures out the simplest construction and finds the most successful way for the materials to work together to achieve the desired aesthetic. Budkie is inspired by seeing more and more designers commit to craftsmanship, quality and transparency of process—something she herself strives to achieve. At the end of August, she opened a Smartfish Studio & Sustainable Supply, a design and art supply store located in Over-the-Rhine. She will be focusing on materials, tools and resources made in America, produced sustainably and beyond the basics currently available locally. The space will also house the studio for SMARTFISH footwear as well.

Once you’re involved in the community, see what’s happening locally and really get to know the people here, it’s hard not to fall in love with Cincinnati.

Photos of Lindsey Lusignolo by Jesse Fox; all others provided