Jovan O’Connor’s eye-catching collection, Mahogany – inspired by the 1975 film starring Dianna Ross – brings color into a season filled with darker hues. Crafted for the woman on the move, this collection suits the woman who is not afraid to make a statement while popping from work to play. The Philadelphia University graduate and Macy’s incubator designer captured our attention with her ability to design for a woman’s body in mind and make them feel beautiful. We got the inside scoop on Jovan and found out more about dressing Patti LaBelle, her favorite actress, and where she gets her inspiration from.
How and why did you start designing?
I knew from a young age that I would grow up to become a designer. As a student, I would draw fashion shows on any piece of blank paper I could find; the back of tests, church programs, and notebook pages.
I think it was something that was inherited from my grandmother, who worked as a seamstress in Philadelphia’s once burgeoning manufacturing industry and designed clothing for her family and friends.
When the time came to pick a school and major, Philadelphia University’s Fashion Design Program was perfect for me.
I was commissioned to design a gown for Patti LaBelle during my senior year. That established my design career.
What is your fashion philosophy?
I design clothing that is sexy, classy and chic by combining interesting textures and prints with intriguing style lines and silhouettes. I celebrate the female form and like to design pieces that accentuate the assets and camouflage the flaws.
How has your design changed over time?
My design has changed in the sense that I previously designed custom pieces for women seeking eye-catching pieces for different events. I felt that it was time to create a line that provided all the pieces I had been designing. So I went from designing specifically for one person to designing for all types of women with different walks of life, shapes, and sizes.
What inspired your latest collection?
My holiday collection was inspired by the movie Mahogany. With 70s glamour as a major influence on fashion this season, I decided to pull from the looks that were featured in the movie.
I am particularly inspired by this story because it tells the the story of Tracy, a young African American aspiring fashion designer from Chicago’s inner city. She pursued her dreams despite adversity. She moved to Rome and became a successful model, as well as a designer.
Having studied abroad in Rome, I related to this story and having studied fashion, I loved the designs.
I wanted to pay homage to by creating a collection that captured the essence of my favorite signature pieces from the movie.
What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
The biggest hurdle is gaining exposure in a market that is flooded with designers who target the same customer.
What do you think about fashion today?
I think fashion today is great. There are a variety of styles that suit all types of personalities and lifestyles.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
I love to travel and see different aspects of architecture and culture. I stay in tune with what is going on in the world and try to relate that to the needs of my customer. I am most inspired by the women that I design for, who are traveling and experiencing the world just the same.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
I think it is imperative for designers to follow our instincts and stay true to our brand identity while paying attention to feedback of those we ultimately design for. In addition, we must perfect our craft and continue to produce work with a quality that is consistent with our brands’ image.
What is your brand aesthetic?
My brand aesthetic is Hollywood glamour with European flair, urban influence and a touch of southern hospitality.
Jovan’s work appropriate to street style pieces will surely find a way a young professional’s closet. Don’t you think so?