Like sweet confectionery desserts, Splash Couture — by designer Kelly Dempsey — is a creative, retro line brimming with spunk and girly charm. And just in time for spring, Dempsey unveils her new collection, a must-have to wear to celebrate the bright sunshine and warm weather.
Just as her collection is unique, so is Dempsey’s career as a designer. Raised in Boston, at the age of 9 she started sewing and re-styling thrift-store clothes.
“I got teased when I was young about wearing second hand clothes,” the designer admitted. “That gave me the push to take matters into my own hands. Sewing became therapy for me.”
From there, Dempsey continued sewing and making her own patterns, yet she never went to fashion school.
“This is what makes me different from most of the other designers,” Dempsey said. “I was never formally trained. I am completely self taught and have a good eye for fashion.” The pieces are each made free-hand, without the use of patterns.
This free-styling is what gives Kelly its distinctive fun and wild feel. The bright colors, reminiscent of the ’80s bright neons, are sugary and delectable like cupcake icing. She mixes vintage with cocktail dresses, tea-party with glamor.
“I am a very outgoing bold person, and I believe what you wear directly represents that,” she said, explaining where the inspiration for her clothes comes from. Her line tempts recklessness and fun, excites possibilities with its eccentric cuts and blends of colors and fabrics. They declare boldly, “don’t be afraid to take risks; usually the outcome is not what you expect!”
Last February, the designer had the opportunity to show her collection at a show during NYC Fashion Week. Out of hundreds of applications, she was chosen as one of seven up-and-coming designers.
Dempsey remembered, “When I walked in fitting and a rehearsal for my first time with my dresses wrapped in a plastic bag, I got looks from all the designers like, ‘What is she doing here?'” Of the other designers showing, three were from Parsons, one from the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“I was completely out of my element.”
But when other designers with similar backgrounds may have felt the task daunting and overwhelming, Dempsey with her care-free spirit, fearlessly took on the challenge.
“There was no turning back and I can’t wait to do it again!”
After the show, the designer admits that the other designers were asking questions about her styling and technique. They couldn’t believe she had done everything start to finish and free-handed.
Dempsey’s designs have been featured on the cover for Modeling the Right Way, a DVD that Elle Girl magazine put out with Ikon Models, an agency in NYC. Currently, a potential photo spread with Elle Girl is in the works for the future.
At the moment, though, Dempsey has been featured in magazines like Merrimack Valley Magazine, Dirty Water News, and perhaps a spread with Stuff at Night.
In Boston, she has had shows during Boston Fashion Week, at clubs like Mantra, Pearl, District, Rumor, Glam Slam at the Estate, and the Underbar. She has also done two charity fashion shows for Dana Farber.
Outside of Boston, she has shown her looks on the runways of New York Fashion Week (2009), Brooklyn Fashion Festival Slam, Nikki Beach in Manhattan, and a show during Providence Fashion Week.
The collection features, besides the rainbow spectrum of colors, a lot of sweater, tulle and silk material. The new line is best described as innovative and re-creating and hashing the old into the new.
“I love mixing different patterns to make my own. I love hearing people say, ‘Wow, I would never try this, but it works!'” she said.
The collection requires one to take a second look to see what it’s made of. For Dempsey, her pieces are all about pushing the envelope and seeing how far, how imaginative she can go.
“I would love to have a celebrity clientele someday. My dresses are very young and fresh, and I would love to see them worn on young Hollywood,” she said. “The dresses are like scenes a Technicolor movie, the pieces advertise a confidence only a girl with that certain cool could possess. She flirts, she parties, she dances all night and into the dawn, yawns, and parties some more.”
Because fashion should be both fun and wearable. Kelly accomplishes style and function by using sweater, tulle, and very comfortable material like Lycra and silks. And it’s the tulle (“Tulle, tulle and more tulle!”) that gives the pieces their delightful pluckiness and sweet allure. “It’s so fun and you can make it look like anything.”
Dempsey concludes with some final thoughts about her collection and its future: “I submerged myself in anything I can do to always be progressing. I want to be in the fashion industry for a long time.”