Name: Joanna Ehrenreich, 2012 Hometown: Poughquag, New York Major: International Relations, Minor: French Medium of Choice: Fabric
Street: When did you first start making clothing? Joanna Ehrenreich: I first began making clothing in middle school — my parents had enrolled me in an after–school quilting class in elementary school and bought me a sewing machine in fifth grade for the holidays. Compared to my twin’s gift, a Tiffany’s heart link bracelet, the machine was a huge disappointment. However, as usual, my parents knew best and I eventually learned how to use it and switched from quilted pillows and blankets to (very rudimentary) clothing.
Street: Do you remember what the first garment you made was? JE: My first garment was a simple drawstring skirt — pink eyelet with white ribbon trim. It took me about eight tries (after the third I was ready to give up) to get this simplest of designs accomplished, literally just a rectangle, no darting or anything. I wore it once.
Street: What inspires you when you design? JE: The female body is truly inspiring. I love creating pieces that complement what is already naturally beautiful. My designs are about natural curves and making the wearer feel their very best, accentuating parts that aren’t always the center–piece of a piece of clothing, such as the back or the collar bone.
Street: What is the most frustrating/challenging thing for you when you’re sewing or designing your clothing? JE: The most frustrating part of sewing is definitely the fact that I am limited because I have barely any formal training in design. This can create some issues when I am draping (creating a pattern for) a new piece. But it is also rewarding if I am able to overcome the challenge in some creative way. Also, I never use others’ patterns (and am very bad about cutting out my own), so every time I make a coat it takes me forever to re–create the pattern — but I guess that just means that every one of my pieces is one of a kind!
Street: What do you envision the person who wears your clothing to be like? JE: I believe my clothing could work on almost anyone. My designs are meant to flatter many builds, so it isn’t necessary to be really thin or really curvy to pull off one of my dresses.
Street: Do you have any favorite fashion designers? Role models? JE: Proenza Schouler and Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga are both fabulous and incredibly talented. Also, drooling over Monique Lhuillier’s wedding dresses is a guilty pastime that my friends and I indulge in probably a little too frequently. But there is so much talent out there I can’t begin to claim that I have enough knowledge to pick a favorite.
Street: Do you envision doing anything in the fashion industry at some point in the future? JE: Possibly; I am keeping all of my options open! Currently I have my own small handmade label called JEHREN which I sell in a Philly boutique called Topstitch and also online in my Etsy store (jehren.etsy.com). Also, this summer I will be working as an intern in product development at Macy’s to get a better idea of the business behind the clothing.
Street: How would you describe fashion at Penn? JE: For me, it seems pretty expressive. Coming from a school that had a very strict dress code, I have fun seeing what everyone puts together on a daily basis. While I wouldn’t necessarily wear everything people wear myself, I think Penn has some great dressers.
Street: How would you describe D2S? JE: D2S is an organization that provides the opportunity and funds for students to design clothing to be featured in the Spring Fashion Show. We also are very active in Penn Fashion Week, which is a great event each spring that attracts amazing speakers (Dr. William Fung and Vera Wang are coming this year) and great panels. The club has striven to provide many students with a creative outlet that they may not otherwise have at Penn.
Street: What’s your favorite part of participating in the D2S fashion shows? JE: Seeing the models walk down the runway in my pieces and getting feedback afterwards. It is incredibly rewarding after all the work that goes into the clothing and the show to see it all in action.