Q&A: Amanda Valentine

We caught up with fashion designer and stylist Amanda Valentine ahead of the official grand opening of her studio space

It’s been over four years since we first sat down with past feature Amanda Valentine. Since then, she’s bounced back and forth between New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville; styled countless artists like Twenty One Pilots, past feature Margo Price, Kaleo, and more; and placed second overall on season thirteen of Project Runway (fans voted to bring Valentine back on the show a second time). This Saturday, October 18, she’s throwing an official studio grand opening party, which will include pop-up shop from Fauxerty . Check out what she’s been up too below.

You’ve been in Nashville for more than ten years. What initially charmed you about the city and what keeps you here now?

Nashville was the perfect fit when I first visited about a dozen years ago. Initially I was coming from Los Angeles, which was just too much for me: too much traffic, too many people, too expensive. But my hometown in Lincoln, Nebraska, was the opposite—just not quite big enough. Nashville was the porridge that was just right, ya know? I didn’t know a thing about the South, but I quickly realized the people is what makes it. I’ve never met a stranger here. At this point, I’ve just got roots here. I chose it. I didn’t choose where I grew up, I didn’t even really mean to choose L.A., it was just an easy decision to live with my brother out there. I met my husband here, I really launched my line here . . . this is home.

Has living in Nashville affected your personal style and designs over time?

Well, not really to be honest. I have a “girl” in my head who I design for—and she lives everywhere.

How does music influence your designing and styling? Do you approach designing differently than putting together a look for a client?

I am eternally obsessed with finding new music—just check out the sheer volume of my Spotify playlists—and most seasons are influenced by some song I can’t get out of my head. But styling and designing are very different for me. Design doesn’t really have a boundary beyond just my stylistic leanings. Styling is satisfying because we are a group accomplishing something together. I just finished a week of commercial styling and it really is a delicate dance between satisfying the client’s vision, filling in the agency’s needs, and working with the director or photographer to produce a coherent, accessible, but still exciting image. I really am obsessed with it. Making beautiful images—either for myself or for my clients—is very, very satisfying.

Has being based in the South rather than L.A. or New York affected how you produce and showcase your work?

I like to be really transparent about this because I think Fashion—with a capital F—thrives on mystery and snobbiness that I don’t like. I worked in L.A. for a couple years as a designer/stylist, and I realized I was competing against literally thousands of other women and men who were designer/stylists who looked like supermodels and had trust funds and were über connected. It took me a couple years to realize that not only could I not compete with that, but I didn’t want to. So when I left L.A.—or it could have been NYC, same story—I realized I was giving up a degree of connectivity and networking that I happily gave up to take affordable housing, affordable studios, and a little bit more peace and solitude. I just had to get realistic about my real priorities and my real vision for my life. So it was kind of [like], “Leave the big city, but maybe do reality TV to make up for it.” That was my trade-off.

How does it feel to open up your studio to the public? Do you feel protective about your design and production process?

I love it. I think most people are really interested in how the sausage is made. I think that explains the success of shows like Project Runway and even Top Chef. I love showing the man behind the curtain. It really is just me watching old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, making dresses.

You’ve partnered with Fauxgerty, a clothing company that specializes in producing sustainable, cruelty-free garments. Is there a conscious element to your fashion? How do you choose which brands to collaborate or co-host with?

The conscious element of my business is naturally a part of my process. As a small company, I can’t afford to carry a lot of inventory or over-order fabric and supplies. So keeping my overhead low is a sound business decision. When I have used manufacturers, I’ve been able to keep them local, female-owned businesses. That will always continue. And when it comes to brands I collaborate with, it’s all about chemistry! I like to surround myself with people I respect, admire, and can learn from.

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