Fashion designer on the upswing

By Meritte Dahl
Murphy News Service

Local fashion designer Emily Trevor is having a whirlwind year.

Since May, the 30 year old has graduated from St. Catherine University, shown her fall collection at Envision, and spent two months as a brand coordinator for a local sweater manufacturer.

Next up for Trevor is a new career with Target as assistant designer in women’s ready-to-wear. To celebrate getting the job, she bought a pair of shiny gold sneakers she plans to wear her first day on Dec. 1.

Her excitement is obvious as she recounts her surprise when she learned that Target was looking to fill some openings, how she felt nervous before the interview, and when she called her mother after getting the call that she’d gotten the job.

As she starts at Target, Trevor is also celebrating her ninth year sober. The up-and-coming designer attributes her drive to succeed to the struggles she has faced.

“I know myself in a way that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gone through this stuff,” Trevor said.

Trevor recognizes that she’s not your typical recent college graduate. At 30 years old, Trevor was older than most of her classmates.

Her life experience is different compared to other “fresh-out-of-design-school designers,” fashion consultant Tara Murphy said. “Your point of view is different, more sophisticated.”

In between her ever-changing schedule and spending time with her husband Matt and their cat Kissa, Trevor has begun working on her spring projects.

The wall above her workspace in the Trevors’ loft displays sketches and fabric swatches for her spring collection. A dress form wearing a floral-embellished collar has one of her husband’s white shirts pinned and draped over the shoulder to mimic a kimono-raglan sleeve hybrid Trevor plans to employ for one of her spring looks.

For her spring collection, Trevor is discarding the haunting navy and black styles from her fall collection for a mixture of feminine and sporty pieces. “I am so over the navy and black,” she said.

Gathering inspiration from taking walks in her artsy neighborhood, Trevor said she plans to combine hand-embroidered lace flowers and feminine silhouettes with athletic details, such as leather fabric that mimics mesh athletic shorts.

“I want all the models to wear white visors for that sporty look,” Trevor said as she pinned and re-pinned dainty orange flowers to a shirt collar.

In February, Trevor will design a look for the Red Dress Collection, a runway show benefiting heart health. Local designers create original looks in shades of crimson to be worn by local celebrities on the catwalk. All proceeds of the event benefit the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women program.

Trevor’s career and life have changed dramatically throughout her life, she said.

Growing up in Owatonna, Trevor was the youngest of four sisters.

“When they were little I loved to sew dresses for them,” said her mother, Rose Ann Konkler.

Trevor used to go to her mother for sewing tips, but now Emily has surpassed her mother’s technical skills.

“She can teach me a lot,” Konkler said.

Playing dress up and having tea parties were some of Trevor’s favorite childhood pastimes, her sister, Liz Anderson, said.

“She had a vivid imagination and always wanted to be playing,” Anderson said.

With a flair for the dramatic, Trevor got involved in theater.

Although she dressed the part of “the classic preppy girl” in high school, Trevor said she felt her hometown restricted her clothing choices. “In a small town, it’s kind of a bad thing to stand out.”

After high school, Trevor moved to New York to attend acting school. In New York City, she started working in her first retail job at Urban Outfitters and developing her taste for fashion.

“New York gave me freedom to dress how I want and be adventurous,” Trevor said.

Living away from home, Trevor developed a habit for alcohol and substance abuse and spiraled into a depression.

“Every creative person has a dark side,” Trevor said.

She moved back home to Owatonna in 2005 to go to a rehabilitation center, and later moved to the Twin Cities. Trevor worked in retail, moving from Picky Girl to Mother Boutique, then Saks Fifth Avenue Off Fifth.

Trevor took general courses online through St. Paul College before transferring to St. Catherine University in 2011.

“I finally had enough confidence and drive from being in recovery,” Trevor said.

Murphy “discovered” Trevor during St. Catherine University’s spring 2013 fashion show, during Trevor’s junior year.

“A lot of editors and people in fashion don’t go to the St. Kate’s show,” Murphy said.

Murphy helped Trevor get her name out there by pulling some of her looks for magazines and a shoot for Haus Salon, Murphy said.

Trevor’s leadership skills and self-motivation made her stand out in class, said Carol Mager, adjunct instructor at St. Catherine University.

“There’s a minimum of what’s required, and then there’s what Emily does,” Mager said.

In May, Trevor graduated with a degree in apparel design and a studio art minor.

Trevor began working for direcTEX, a Minneapolis-based sweater design and manufacturing company, in August. As brand coordinator, she worked with designers, factories, and vendors.

This past fall, Trevor’s senior collection from St. Catherine University was shown at Envision. The September show held in Orchestra Hall showcased fall fashions from several local designers.

Trevor compared the rush of seeing her clothes on the runway to performing on stage.

“It’s easily the best feeling there is,” she said.

The future looks bright for this local designer, Mager said. “Wherever she chooses to go, she’ll be a strong voice.”


Meritte Dahl is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.



For more information about Emily Trevor, visit her website.



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