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Artists from across the globe bring designs to Louisville for KMAC Couture show

A woman in a red, velvet dress with a long train stands next to a man wearing a T-shirt, jacket and jeans. The woman has a headpiece that looks like red sparkly antlers and her face is painted to resemble a deer.
Breya Jones
St. Thomas said he used velvet for his design because it reminded him of the texture of deer fur.

This year’s KMAC Couture fashion show theme is “One For the Books!” Dozens of designers used books and literature as their muse.

It’s Isaac St. Thomas’ fourth show with the KMAC Museum. When he first started designing, it was on screen-printed t-shirts.

“Probably five years ago, I started sewing my own tags and things like that, on my clothes for my brand,” St. Thomas said.

St. Thomas’ brand Bdelliom Clothing, has grown since his first KMAC Couture fashion show. He’s moved from streetwear to couture garments. And even had a line walk during New York Fashion Week.

St. Thomas said getting into design allowed him to return to creating art.

“I've always enjoyed painting and stuff like that; I used to do that a lot when I was a kid,” he said. “As I got older, I started playing ball and things like that, and kind of went away from that. After we got married, I think I started looking at doing those things again and so fashion was just the mechanism that I used to do that.”

Much of his creative work, particularly designs for KMAC Couture, are closely connected to his personal life.

For the “One For the Books!” prompt, St. Thomas thought about a recent time of personal transition.

“We were switching churches, we had moved into a new house, we both started new jobs, our oldest was going to a new school, it was just a lot of chaos at the time,” St. Thomas said.

To find moments of peace, St. Thomas and his wife Sarah Belles-Simmons, would sit outside their home and watch the deer.

“It was just kind of committing to a new chapter in our life that we are making time to stop and sit and look at the deer,” Belles-Simmons, who will be modeling her husband’s designs in this year’s show, said.

St. Thomas’ design for this year is a red velvet dress with a long train. A standout accessory is a sparkling red antler headpiece. Belles-Simmons’ make-up aspires to a deer-like look.

It’s a nod to the new chapter in the book of their family’s lives.

“The title for this one is ‘The Red Stag’ and so that's why we use a lot of velvet, things like that, and kind of reminded me of their fur, their skin,” St. Thomas said.

Belles-Simmons said events like the KMAC Couture show provide the community a place to get in touch with their artistic side.

“Art is not always highlighted and there's people who work a nine to five that has nothing to do with art, but they're very creative people, and they need that expressive outlet,” Belles-Simmons said.

St. Thomas said designing gives him a space to explore other sides of himself.

“It works a whole different side of your brain that you don't get to work at the other time of the day,” St. Thomas said. “For me especially, like as my job, my job is very physical but it's always great when I get to come home or go to my studio and work and sketch and draw.”

The KMAC Couture show is April 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Paristown.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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