The Skanner News – Skanner Foundation scholar launches fashion line focused on diversity and inclusion

Local fashionistas would be well advised to keep the Dorotheaa label on their radars.

The colorful, kinetic womenswear brand was launched by 2016 Skanner Foundation Scholar Janelle Arnold, who is currently preparing new pieces for two West Coast runway shows: Portland Fashion Week and San Diego Fashion Week.

“I would say overall my design aesthetic is very bold, bright and colorful,” Arnold said. The Skander. “I love working with color, doing things that are very vibrant and stand out; I think it brings joy and happiness to people when they wear it. It’s something that’s always been very important to me – I want the people I design for to fall in love with the pieces I create.

Arnold is a recent graduate of Marist College in New York, where she learned the art of “taking a design from concept to finished garment,” and where she used high-end lab equipment like laser cutters . to make his Controlled Explosion collection a reality.

“One of my inspirations was fireworks.

“Because I love color and so I thought about how fireworks explode in the night sky, and that was also related to laser cutting,” Arnold said. “With these shapes, the cutouts look like floral fireworks, this explosion that was also controlled because it was laser cut, so it was still very precise in cutting the fabric.

Diversity by Design

The COVID pandemic cut Arnold’s final year in New York short, so she returned to Portland to complete her year remotely. But as her brand Dorotheaa demonstrates, Arnold’s inspiration often comes from home.

“It’s a name that’s meaningful to me because it’s one of my middle names and it’s a name that’s been passed down through the different generations of women from my father’s and mother’s side. “, said Arnold. “My paternal grandmother was from Mobile, Ala. and her first name was Dorothea,” Arnold said, “and my mother has the middle name of Dorothea, and so does her grandmother, which is why I was given the same middle name. It certainly represents a lot of people in my life and the women who have stood out to me over the years.

Arnold remembers designing outfits in elementary school, and his mother taught him how to hand sew from a young age. During her freshman year at Grant High, Arnold created space for herself and other students interested in the fashion industry.

“I started a fashion club for myself and other people who had that interest, so we could get together,” she said. “And I did a lot of networking and reaching out to local people in the industry, like makeup artists and stylists, local designers, asking them to come talk to us. It was a chance for people to ‘learn more about the different facets of the industry if they had that passion.’

Arnold became adept at finding ways to express and develop his creativity. But she acknowledges that while the fashion industry is finally – albeit slowly – coming to embrace diversity, it’s not an area where black designers are well represented. Labor statistics show that less than 8% of fashion designers are black.

“In my graduating class, there were only three of us,” Arnold said.

Design from Janelle Arnold’s Controlled Explosion collection (2020). (Photo courtesy of Janelle Arnold)“There wasn’t much (representation) even in our faculty. I always want to keep an eye on those who are people of color, follow them and support them. »

She was inspired by the vibrant hues and often theatrical work of black designer Christopher John Rogers, who created the outfit Vice President Kamala Harris wore on Inauguration Day; the bold and often more relaxed looks of former Marist Marissa Wilson; and the revolutionary approach of designer Christian Seriano.

“I always liked the fact that in the beginning he was one of the few designers who even dressed plus size celebrities, models,” Arnold said. “It didn’t matter to him your height, you would look stunning on the red carpet.”

Arnold’s work shows a similar passion for diversity in size and design.

“Diversity and inclusion has always been very important to me, so with the Portland show, I’m very excited to be doing an inclusive size collection,” Arnold said.

“I’m delighted to be able to work with women who have different morphologies, which shows that potentially anyone who wants to can be interested in fashion.

“We should, as designers, think the same way, and not just design for a limited size range, but be more inclusive.

“It’s always been something I’ve been passionate about, having more representation and showing it through my brand and just having it be part of my core brand values.”

Preparation for the track

by Arnold design portfolio demonstrates a range of inspiration, from African queens to the Bauhaus architectural style of the Pacific Northwest.

“A lot of times I’m very inspired by nature and I think growing up in that area had some influence on that,” Arnold said. “Even in my textile designs, I often do things that are more natural and floral-inspired, and I also personally love the natural colors that grow in flowers, and I love having those colors transferred into my designs.”

Preparing for his upcoming shows, Arnold is creating 20 unique pieces for the show.

“These are two completely new collections,” she said. “Since this is my first collection at a fashion show and fashion week, I want the Portland collection to be essentially a celebration of what the brand stands for in terms of diversity and inclusion, and also just bringing the essence of my brand, which is just very colorful and vibrant and fun overall.

She added, “I’m more of a summer designer, I would say.

“I do a lot of summer dresses and things that are very flowy and also have a lot of movement.”

To see Arnold’s work, visit www.dorotheaa.com. Portland Fashion Week will be held August 16-22. For more information, visit www.portlandfashionweek.net.

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