Fashionably Speaking: Designer Emma Berg

I think I’ve found one of the hardest working women in fashion. Not, it’s not Donatella nor is it Anna W., but Minneapolis-based fashion designer Emma Berg.

If you think you are on your grind with your main gig and side hustle, (yes, I’m looking at you and me too), you’ve got nothing on Emma.  She manages to find time to create her own fun fashions as she works to support Minneapolis’ arts community.  Did I mention that she also holds down a corporate job?  Take that slackers (*hangs own head in shame*)

Emma took time out of her crazy busy schedule to chat with The Ride about her designs, some of her faves and creating a piece for Lady Gaga (the one and only).

The Ride: First of all, I’m a little monster. (No people, I’m not THAT bad. It’s the name Lady Gaga gives her devotees/fans). I read that you got the chance to create a Gaga-inspired design in honor of her recent appearance in the Twin Cities.  Too fabulous! How did you get that gig?

Emma: The Xcel [Energy] Center in Saint Paul [where Lady Gaga performed] provides each performer with a gift.  Often times, it is a hockey jersey.  With Lady Gaga, they wanted something that better suited her and thus decided to commission a local designer. I was lucky enough to be that local designer!

The Ride: Tell me about the creation.

Emma: The Xcel Center left it pretty open; however, it did need to be Minnesota inspired.  I chose the Lady Slipper (the state flower) due to the luscious shape and the color pallet.  I created a jacket out of white ruched satin with an overstated collar and shoulders.  I wanted to create something that was not overly dependent upon measurements, that made obvious reference to some of her current pieces and would be easy to wear with other garments.

Fashion Designer Emma Berg's Jacket Commissioned by the Xcel Center as a gift for Lady Gaga. Skirt from the FW2009 Collection. (Photo: Emma Berg)

The Ride: What happened to the design?  Did you get a chance to meet the good Lady G and present it to her?

Emma: The design was delivered to her tour manager to deliver to her.  For a bit I thought, I would get the chance to meet her but in the end, it didn’t work out.  It would have been nice but regardless I loved making it!

The Ride: Busy woman that you are, you also have an arts website MPLSART.com. How do you make the time for both your own art and promoting others?

Emma: It’s a hard balance right now trying to make sure that I am spending the necessary time on mplsart.com, curating at Fox Tax and my fashion design (that is on top of my job at Target Corporate).   I have promised myself that at the end of this year, I need to re-evaluate my current projects in order to ensure that I can spend the time I want on fashion design.

The Ride: Tell me about the journey from arts supporter promoting others’ visions to taking your creative visions, bringing them to life and having them walk the runway?

Emma: Producing Laura Fulk’s fashion show Suffocate with my mplsart.com business partner Kristoffer Knutson was the extra kick I needed.

The Ride: What three things should a designer know or consider when considering creating a fashion event?

Emma: One, create a fluid collection, ensuring that all pieces in the collection are related to each other by color, shape or visible inspiration. Two, create a lookbook.  The runway show comes and goes but you need to capture the collection in a staged setting in order to share it in a way that best represents your overall vision. Three, the priority of your event should be your garments and your vision as a designer.  Don’t let other elements overshadow that.

From Emma Berg's Lookbook: SS2010 "Mame" Collection. Photo: Emily Utne

The Ride: Did you follow your own advice when creating your first runway show?

Emma: For the most part.  There are always lessons learned though.  I have a finale piece from my Voltage collection that still needs to be photographed off of the runway.

The Ride: Describe the woman that wears your fashions.  What is she like?  Where does she live?  What does she eat? (I’m serious *smiles*)

Emma: She is confident and playful, loves to buy and wear statement pieces.  She is an individual.  She is urban and is out often.  She will eat anything once as long as it’s with a side of champagne.

From Emma Berg's Lookbook: SS2010 "Mame" Collection. Painting: Ruben Nusz Photo: Emily Utne

The Ride: If you only were allowed to use 2 colors in your designs, what two would you use?

Emma: If it were for the upcoming SS2011 collection, I would have to pick Yellow for the boldness and Nude as my neutral.  I love color though, so this would be heartbreaking.

Fashion Designer Emma Berg (photo: Kate Iverson)

Emma’s Favorite Things

Song: Changes regularly, but as of now “If I Had a Heart” by Fever Ray

Cartoon character (Me: Toss up between SpongeBob SquarePants and Bugs Bunny): Alice in Wonderland; I’ve always liked life down the rabbit hole.

Candy: A super dark and spicy Mexican chocolate bar, yummmm!

The Ride: Heard that you will be participating in the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts fashion event on Thursday, November 18 in which you and other designers were commissioned to create 3 fashions inspired by the museum’s artwork. Another cool gig. Sounds very Project Runway.  How big of a challenge has it been?

Inspiration Image for Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) Fashion Event (Courtesy of Emma Berg)

Emma: I am super excited about this event.  I look to art regularly for inspiration so I was delighted to be part of it.  I think my designs with be relevant and also reflect their initial inspiration.

The Ride: Where do you see the TC (Twin Cities) fashion scene going?

Emma: So many people are dedicating their time and energy in helping it grow.  With so much effort and passion, it seems that it can only expand.  I hope that it really can be seen as a creative incubator for upcoming design talent.

The Ride: Where do YOU want to go as a designer?

Emma: I want to keep making collections that are reflective of my taste and aesthetic as a designer.  I really want to work with more individuals as well, creating one of a kind “event” garments  that are reflective of the individuals’ tastes and is suited for their body type.

The Ride: Where do you want your fashions to go?

Emma: Into women’s closets, into their suitcases, to the dry cleaners.  I want them to be worn and seen.

The Ride: When I see someone wearing my designs, I….?

Emma: Light-up from the inside like a Halloween pumpkin. Glow like a Christmas Tree. Sparkle like a firework. In other words, it makes me happy.  It makes me content (for a split second).

Want more Emma in your life?

Emma’s fashions can be found at Design Collective.

Follow Emma on Twitter.

And check out Emma’s website, click here


2 thoughts on “Fashionably Speaking: Designer Emma Berg

  1. Other than feeling like a total slacker because of her energy and focus, I really enjoyed reading about her. That Lady GaGa outfit is AWESOME! Too bad it didn’t work it.

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