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Peggy does the Polka

Kansas City designer Peggy Noland is proving that there's no place like home.

From Peggy Noland's teensy tiny cubicle in the centre of Kansas City, she has carved out a rollercoaster fashion career that includes sewing hair weaves for Flavor Flav and making stage costumes for Lovefoxx of CSS and TIlly and the Wall. This self-taught designer is aiming high but has no intentions of going all 'haute' on us when all she wants to do is make funny clothes. With giant nappies, polka dots and comically large proportions, Noland has done just that and it was long overdue that we spoke to this proud Kansas City resident about her hometown and her work.

Dazed Digital: What's your background as a fashion designer?
Peggy Noland: My introduction into fashion began as a production manager for a small clothing label in New Delhi in 2006. When I returned home to Kansas City there was a tiny - and I mean tiny-  store front (35-60 square feet, depending on the installation) available on 18th Street - the best location in Kansas City. David Ford, an artist also based in Kansas City, took a chance on me by letting a 23 year old with no business experience rent from him. It could have been a complete disaster really.
My mom taught me how to sew and I began by hand sewing hair weaves for Flava Flav!

DD: How did you hook up with Lovefoxx?
Peggy Noland: Kianna from Tilly and the Wall made the connection after she strolled into my store on 18th Street a month after I opened. I owe it all to Tilly and the Wall! I feel like CSS adopted me.
Working with Lovefoxxx means the world. She has given me such a boost. I am from Kansas City for heaven sake. I have no connections! There is no networking to be done! And then something I made on my little sewing machine, in the middle of nowhere, ends up on the cover of Dazed and Confused? Are you kidding me? I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I hope I can work with Lovefoxxx till the day I die and one day we will be sitting back on the beach in Brazil, drinking lemonade in lawn chairs, laughing in matching track suits. Or we end up in the same retirement home or something......

DD: What IS the fashion scene in Kansas City like?  Why do you choose to be based there?
Peggy Noland: Kansas City is a hidden gem. It doesn't get the credit it deserves, but I feel like the right people notice. When you have people like SSION and Jaimie Warren consistently making international waves, it becomes obvious that there is a little bit of magic there. I don't know - there are amazing people everywhere, but the internet has leveled the playing field.
Kansas City is an incredibly fostering place. It's an incubator. It's cheap - giving you time to work on your projects. There is space - giving you the ability to see your projects come to life. There is support - giving artists a chance. There is a sense of humor - people can't and don't take themselves too seriously. Someone told me once Kansas City 'feels like college' as they were commenting on how everyone is excited and willing to support each others projects.
Tell me - if the most creative people you ever met were your best friends and you could all work, live and play together in your own unaffected world, having all day to make whatever you want, and crack each other up - would you leave? We've got it all! And we've got it all in Kansas City, Missouri! Come here with us! (Is this starting to sound a bit cultish? Good! :)

DD: How did the temporary move to Berlin happen (Noland opened a pop-up shop in the summer in Berlin)?
Peggy Noland: I am the lucky recipient of the Lighton International Artist Exchange Program grant. I couldn't have done it without the financial support of this organization. (Kudos to the many arts organizations in KC)
My stores are always about 95% installation, and 5% retail. Anyone that has been in my stores can see that it is far from a typical retail effort. It sounds crazy to most business people and have recieved a lot of 'advice' to make my enviroments more condusive to selling. But I would be an unhappy camper, a business person only, if my day to day activity was all for the intention of making money, or if I measured my value on how much I sold. Addionally, having a unique store attracts a unique customer and unique opprotunities and that never gets boring....
There is one secret ingrediant that people wonder how someone with so little money can do so much. Should I spill the beans?......
It's HARD WORK! and you know what P.Diddy says.....'tired rhymes with fired'....
Much of my time here in Berlin has been looking for a permenent space. It will be a lot of work to keep to two concept stores running, but you gotta start somewhere, right? Berlin has been very good to me, and I can't let a good thing die!!!

DD: What would you say is the Peggy Noland aesthetic?
Peggy Noland: FUNNY! Don't you think? I hope so. My aesthetic is funny, but I'm not kidding.

DD: Who would you like to see wearing your adult quilted diapers?
Peggy Noland: Hahahah, good question. I have already seen him in them! My muse, Jonny Makeup.

DD: What's on the horizon for Peggy Noland?
Peggy Noland: I have just completed my second year teaching in the Fiber Department at the Kansas City Art Institute, and I am in the middle of a working with Malcolm Stuart and Bec Stupak... ooooh girl!!!! And I want more! I want to collaborate and participate! Bring it on! I can't wait!