Cedar Hills designer featured at Utah Fashion Week

Kathryn “Kat” Mecham may not be a designer you know, but in a few years, she may be.

Mecham, a 26-year-old Cedar Hills resident, is a part of the Utah Fashion Week going on now in Salt Lake City. She was featured in Thursday’s Up-and-Coming Designers Show, and has quickly gained a loyal fan base.

Mecham’s Vintage Daughter collection includes 13 original dresses with hints of history.

“I’m inspired by taking things old and vintage, and putting a new modern twist on it,” Mecham said.

Her dresses are multilayered, flowing with lace and hand beading, and hints of yesteryear. Her first piece, the one that gained her a spot at Utah Fashion Week, is what she calls “an alternative wedding dress.”

“I made it thinking of what I would want to wear if I did a vow renewal. Something comfortable, less restrictive and beautiful,” said Mecham, who has been married for eight years. “It looks like a Bohemian dress, and it’s been everyone’s favorite so far.”

While some dresses have a hint of the 1950s, others take their history from Mecham’s travels. The one wrap dress was inspired by the saris she wore in India, while another has a kimono-feel. Overall, the recurring themes in Mecham’s designs draw from a vintage sense while incorporating modern elements: high-low hemlines, sheer layers with modest layers underneath, and the use of unconventional materials.

“I’m definitely an unconventional designer — one of my dresses is made from an Ikea curtain,” she laughed.

As Mecham designed the rest of her collection, another important factor was wearability and comfort.

“I wanted to make each dress unique, with a common theme. But the biggest thing was it to be a dress that I’d feel comfortable wearing. Wedding dresses shouldn’t be the only time we dress up,” she said.

Surprisingly, though her models walked the runway Thursday evening, you won’t find her name on the alumni roster of any fashion schools. Though she’s been designing her own clothing and costumes for her dance school for years, she only started this latest fashion foray in August.

Mecham owns L’Esthétique, the business name for both her dance studio she runs from her basement, and her fashion line. She’s specializes in ballet and Highland dance, and has traveled throughout the U.S. and to many places overseas performing as part of different groups. She’s always had a penchant for costume design within the dancing world, and especially enjoys the custom children’s clothing work she does for clients. In fact, she asked Utah Fashion Week organizers if she could show a children’s clothing line, but that option wasn’t available this year.

So, while there were the usual last minutes of changes and adjustments to get her models runway-ready, Mecham felt very calm and confident.

“I guess having been a dance teacher, I’ve had to put entire shows together, doing everything from programs to choreography. This was just designing and then casting the models. This is more relaxed. The only stressful part is remembering all the details — finishing a hem, a clasp here and there,” Mecham said.

Karissa Neely reports on Business & Community events, and can be reached at (801) 344-2537 or kneely@heraldextra.com. Follow her on Twitter: @DHKarissaNeely

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