The Three Styles of Asheville
Wendy Newman Designs
Our town is known for its art deco skyline, but local artist Wendy Newman brings a whole new level of art to our architecture with her unique mandalas and fashion designs.
Newman received her first camera as a Christmas gift when she was just 8 years old and has considered herself a photographer ever since. Though the arts long called to Newman—she holds a degree in fashion design from Miami International University of Art and Design—her reign as Miss Florida inspired her to take a different direction, and she spent a decade opening modeling and finishing schools.
It was Asheville that first inspired her to reinvest in art and her unique mandalas, which she prints on everything from umbrellas to leggings. “I fell in love with this town when I first moved here 18 years ago from flat and steamy southwestern Florida, and I never get tired of photographing it,” says Newman.
As for turning her art into a business, that was an accident. “I made my girlfriend a pair of Asheville leggings and gave them to her at a going away party,” she says. “That day I ended up with orders for 17 pairs of leggings, and I didn’t even have a manufacturer.” That was just 14 months ago, and since then her business has grown exponentially.
The designs are a time-intensive, if therapeutic, endeavor for Newman, one she describes as a “process of deconstruction and reconstruction.” “My creations begin with a photograph I have taken, from which I select elements and create two to six mandalas, then layer them all together.”
Though Newman has expanded the scope of her designs to include a Charleston line as well as personal commissions for families, it’s still Asheville that has her heart. “I’m currently creating a Buskers scarf which will be mandalas of Asheville Street Artists like Abby the Spoon Lady. The money made from the scarf will be divided among the street artists.”
Most artists are constantly discovering something new about their creations, but this rings particularly true for Newman. “Two weeks ago my son took me to see a 3D tapestry and told me to put on the glasses. Revelation… my art is 3D!” Newman says with a laugh. “I bought a pair of glasses and took them home and, sure enough, about 90% of my work is true 3D.”
Diamond Brand Outdoors
Outdoors is in our blood in Asheville, and it’s in our fashion, too. You’ll see more folks strolling the streets in worn hiking boots and nubby fleeces than you will in heels and suit jackets.
It’s been that way for a long time—since 1964, at least; that’s when Western North Carolina’s first outdoor gear shop opened as Diamond Brand Camping Center. Over the years, the retailer has grown exponentially and received accolades anon. What we mean is, Diamond Brand Outdoors knows their outdoor clothing, so it was to them we turned for two outdoorsy outfits fit for fall (indoors or out).
So, what’s trending? “Our fall lines maintain the technical benefits of traditional outdoor apparel combined with the style and look of everyday wear—think pieces that you can take on the trail or on the town,” says Stephanie Hite, Apparel and Footwear Buyer. “While anyone living the outdoor lifestyle probably has a large collection of plaid shirts, designers are showing no fear when it comes to exciting prints and bright colors (perhaps taking a cue from the vibrant accessories that have been dominating the landscape for awhile).”
Asheville is a bohemian haven, and many of our fashions reflect those leanings. In muted tones and textured fabrics, decked with thick embroidery and delicate details, these autumnal picks from Désirant are bohemian, refined.
“My favorite thing about bohemian fashion is the free-spirited nature it gives to the wearer,” says Shelby Nichols Evans, Creative Director and buyer at Désirant. “Instead of thinking ‘do these match perfectly,’ you can think ‘do I love what I’m putting on and feel good expressing myself in this?’ So many women are trained to think they need to purchase ‘outfits’ and wear what is tailored to their body type. Bohemian style frees us of those ideas by giving us comfortable, oversized fits suited for everyone and allowing us to consider new textures, colors and patterns.”
It’s a timeless take on the capsule closet trend. ”Most everything in your closet will go together if you shop with this mentality over time!” Evans points out. But that doesn’t mean it’s immune to trends; even bohemian fashion gets a fun infusion of new trends this year. What to expect? “Embroidery everywhere!” says Evans, as well as chic boho styles that harken back to international fashion from the ’60s through ’90s (especially French), earth tones, block heels and platforms.
But perhaps the biggest trend of all is the anti-trend of timelessness and quality. “Say buh-bye to fast fashion,” says Evans. “We are on the lookout for handmade, quality apparel and accessories that you can care for over time and that won’t be thrown out with next week’s trend!”