Katie Elhoffer of Elhoffer Designs may not be a name you know right away but we’re positive you have seen her designs. She has made some of the most recognizable designs in Geek Chic Fashion today including Ashley Eckstein’s Totoro dress from The 1st Her Universe Fashion Show and was nominated for a Geekie Award for her work.
She recently left her corporate design job at a huge geek chic company (We Love Fine) and has since gone out on her own to make some amazing commissions… she seems super happy and is making some of the most amazing designs we have seen yet from her. This mini Star Wars collection is only the tip of the iceberg of what will see from one of the most talented designers of our generation and also one of the only designers that knows exactly what nerdy ladies are looking for in fandom fashion.
KE: Terrified. I mean, I knew I could design and all, but it’s scary to think I have to go back to doing everything: patterning, fabric sourcing, sewing, all of it! But my friends all stood by me and helped me move forward. One girlfriend requested a commission for Force Awakens, as her boyfriend is in the 501st and she wanted to dress up for him. And that’s what got me moving forward again. I took a few weeks to recharge and game and mope. Then I got back to work.
KE: The experience of designing on my own has been freaking fantastic. I no longer have to wait to hear from higher ups for approvals on things. I don’t have to wait for a sample coordinator to list out all the problems they have with my designs before they can start getting it sewn up. When I used to design based on fabrics I had purchased in the fashion district, working for a huge company meant I had to instead work with fabrics that they could get bolts of for production. It was just another way to tie my hands down. So now I’m designing with the freedom I need at this moment. I went downtown for the first time in a long while and found so many fabrics for pieces I had been designing at my old job, and just laughed. I had been working with people for months on things that were just sitting around the fabric district waiting to be bought. Certainly puts what I was doing in perspective.
KE: My inspiration has come from where it always has: the world around me. For Phasma it was her clean lines and general Badass-ness, and I’ve been obsessed with capes for years, even made myself a caped Captain America dress for the first year of the Her Universe fashion show. I love capes. And since Phasma actually has one, I knew it was a perfect addition. The thing with cape dresses is that they can be somewhat shapeless due to the use of a georgette or similar fabric. By using spandex on the body, and keeping it fitted, it flatters while still making a statement.
Really for each of the pieces I stared down the photos of the characters and just sketched. For some I did like ten different takes, and then figured out which would be the best to make. I would sit for hours and sketch ideas out, and still do. I pull up sites like ASOS, Top Shop, and the like, all to see what street wear I respond to. It is, as it always was, what am I personally drawn to and how can I make it geeky?
FN: Do you hope to gain licenses on your own and mass produce any of these designs in the future?
KE: I would love to get licenses and mass produce again, or even join with a company that has them already. But right now since I’m making them in my studio by hand, I’m enjoying the process of cutting and sewing each one, making the tweaks per customer requests to make sure each garment is perfect. And I’m loving the personal interaction I get with each potential client. It’s so much more personal, which I need emotionally and mentally right now. My brain had been fried sitting at a desk all day everyday. So yes, I’d love to get licensed. If I do anything close to mass production I will. But for now I’m happy doing one-offs and working on each piece on my own
FN: What else do you have cooking over there and what can we look forward to?
KE: Well, I’m going to do a men’s line soon. I’m so sick of how guys have nothing fashionable, so I’m taking matters into my own hands. I’m going to do a Star Wars inspired line for men. And I’m going to probably do a few more RTW lines for women for other fandoms. Something magical, perhaps. As always, everyone can look forward to pieces that are designed to flatter a variety of shapes and sizes, as I’m always focusing on that. And of course they’ll be fashionable, otherwise there would be no point to my life
Catherine has been working on all sorts of other fandoms so make sure you follow her and her etsy to see what she is up to next!