Fashion Is Her Art

by Marlee Katz

“I’ve had drama running through my veins since the day I was born.”

Fashion is an art for many, and for designer Rachel Frank, she embraces this idea with every stitch.

Frank’s designs reflect her upbringing in small town Baraboo, WI. Her collections are inspired by nature—the surface of trees, flow of water, and shapes and colors found in exotic bird. Frank’s work reflects her fantastical costume design background. She finds inspiration from the patterns in nature, the details in machinery, music (especially Alphonse Mucha) and works of literature. Her favorite mediums include silk, leather and wool. Her bio explains her work as, “all fantasy, all woman, all drama.”

Frank realized that design was her passion as a senior in college at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Her collection, inspired by “The Divine Comedy,” showcased a gown made of tree branches and layers of dyed silk chiffon. Her collection earned awards, allowed her scholarship opportunities, and was featured in magazines and in a local high-end boutique.

Since college, Frank has been designing custom clothing and jewelry for various clients. She designs for wealthy women, brides, dancers, performers, and even drag queens and Mr. Gay Wisconsin! Frank is in the fourth year of her jewelry line that consists of necklaces with vintage brooches, intricately geared old compasses, inherited vintage keys and old pocket watches. The jewelry collection can be found at the Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee, WI.

After winning an award at the Driehaus Design Initiative for Fashion excellence, Frank’s work caught the eye of Neapolitan Boutique owner Kelly Golden. Golden contacted Frank and asked her to produce a resort line for her boutique. Frank explains her shock and excitement after learning about this opportunity. She took the offer without thinking twice.

Currently, Frank is one of six Designers-in-Residence at the Chicago Fashion Incubator (CFI) above Macy’s. Every year, CFI provides emerging designers with a workspace, mentoring programs and workshops to help develop their careers in fashion. The program allows for designers to build relationships within the industry with lawyers, accountants, buyers, merchandisers and branding and marketing experts.

Frank is working on her first ready-to-wear line. She has begun a Kickstart project in order to earn funding for her line. She hopes to raise $6,500 in order to produce her garments in larger quantities. Her bio and campaign are featured here.

In the next few years, Frank hopes to have her garments featured in as many stores in the Midwest and surrounding areas. She sees herself doing costume design for Sci-Fi and fantasy film.

Frank’s work will be featured in the UW-Fashion week events on March 12th and 16th.

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