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Local teen fashion designer headed to New York Fashion Week


Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 15:01


Photo by Rayelle Dooley/The Gateway

Omaha fashion designer Kate Walz (pictured above) poses with one of her pieces during a New York Fashion Week fundraiser at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery downtown on Jan. 26. Walz will be displaying her work at two shows in New York next month.

Kate Walz’s notoriety in the Omaha fashion scene has been on the rise for the past few years since she began showing collections for Omaha Fashion Week at age 13. Walz is bound to become even more recognized for her designs—locally and nationally—after she shows her latest Fall 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week in February.  

The New York fashion marketing firm Plitz asked the 16-year-old Millard North High School sophomore to be a featured designer in two shows, one for emerging designers and one a special cancer survivors show (for which Walz custom-created a dress). Walz’s New York debut will be held at the W New York hotel.

While organizing a fundraiser to help with Fashion Week expenses, Walz got some good news. Plitz called Walz’s mother and manager, Jackie, requesting Walz to show 30 pieces, instead of the original 10.

Both Walz and Jackie said they would be taking dresses from previous collections to meet the 30-piece request, since adding 20 looks to the new line would be impossible.

After sharing that exciting news, Walz explained that her Fall 2013 collection is inspired by New York in the ’60s.

She is using hard, sturdy fabrics such as faux leather and contrasting those with softer, more feminine textiles.

The idea is to reflect the dichotomy that exists in New York City between the hard, architectural skyline and the natural beauty of Central Park. The color palette—one of cranberry, charcoal, champagne and black—exudes an elegance one wouldn’t typically associate with a 16-year-old girl.

Walz had the finale gown displayed on a dress form with her sketchbook open on a table nearby. This gave a brief glimpse into how one of her ideas comes to fruition.

The faux leather bodice with intricate stitching offsets a large, flowing red skirt with an enormous three-dimensional flower detail. It’s a very commanding piece. It will definitely make a statement in New York.

Other than this finale gown, there wasn’t much for Walz to show. Most of the other pieces are with a fellow Omaha Fashion Week-featured designer, Yolanda Diaz, who is helping Walz with the sewing.

Previously Walz sewed almost everything herself, but with the February show fast approaching and having to attend high school during the day, the help from Diaz is a huge, necessary relief.

The Road to New York Fashion Week fundraising event was held on Jan. 26 from at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery in the Old Market. Tickets were $25 for adults and $15 for students. Along with the ticket sales, Kate Walz-branded t-shirts and silent auction items were for sale.

Since Walz doesn’t have a professional team or backing, the fundraiser was to help with costs associated with taking her and her support group to New York. This includes: her mother; her publicist, UNO communications senior, Brittany Redden; photographer Greg Higgins of g thompson higgins photography; and another mother-and-daughter duo with whom Walz and Jackie are friends.

At the event, pieces from Walz’s previous collections were placed throughout the maze-like gallery. Attendees made their way from dress to dress taking in the intricate details and stopping to talk to the designer at some point along the way.

Denise Bradshaw, of Omaha, didn’t personally know Walz, came to the fundraiser after reading about her in the Omaha World-Herald. Walz’s obsession with tutus described in the article that made Bradshaw think, “I get it! I get that girl!”

Bradshaw spoke with much enthusiasm about

Walz and kept laughing when she referred to the designer as a “little girl,” for Walz carries herself in a mature manner. For example, at the event, Walz was wearing a sophisticated, grown-up look—a black ankle-length crocheted gown with black suede platform heels—that expressed she’s ready to hold her own in the New York fashion scene.

Anna Crinklaw and Sarah Helmberger, both 16-year-old sophomores at Millard North, have modeled for the designer before and were at the event supporting their friend.

“She’s made fashion so much cooler,” Helmberger said. She added that seeing Walz design and create the pieces from start-to-finish makes fashion so much more tangible and real-to-life.

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