It didn’t take long for celebrity fashion designer Kevan Hall to size up his Oklahoma customers on a recent visit.
After being in Oklahoma City for only a few hours, he quickly learned women here enjoy traveling, they know fashion, they’re stylish, and they welcome suggestions and new ideas. They’re aware of trends but don’t jump on a certain style or color just because it’s of the moment.
“Fashion is so instant,” Hall said during a visit to R Meyers in Nichols Hills. “The Oklahoma woman has a keen eye and knows what she likes.”
In many ways, Oklahoma women mirror Hall’s fashion philosophy. He said he’s never been married to fashion trends and encourages women to embrace what they like.
“Women have to decide what works best for them, what they feel confident in,” he said. When a woman looks in the mirror, she needs to feel beautiful in that gown or dress.
He said women are looking for clothing that’s not complicated, that offers a sense of ease and sense of confidence.
Hall was sketching clothes when he was as young as 8, but he never imagined a career as a fashion designer. He didn’t know such a job existed.
But his parents bought him magazines and art supplies, and perhaps most important, supported him.
In his sketches, he reimagined the wardrobes of Sonny and Cher, Hollywood actresses of the 1940s, ’50s and ‘60s, and the women of Motown, including Diana Ross and Martha Reeves.
Growing up in Detroit, “I was just a young guy looking and admiring the incredible style of those musicians,” he said.
“I didn’t know there was such a thing as a designer. I just enjoyed sketching.”
His mother influenced him as well. “She loved fashion and took us to Saks and the best stores in town,” he said. And in those days, church was where every woman showed off her Sunday best.
His influences remain the same today. He still loves glamour, vintage and old Hollywood, but now his sketches come to life in beautiful and luxurious fabrics.
In 1983, he founded Kevan Hall Couture, selling to Neiman Marcus and Saks. His resume also includes design and creative director for Halston from 1998 until the company was sold in 2000.
“It was a great opportunity for me to work with so many tailors and patternmakers from when they worked with Roy (Halston),” he said.
He launched Kevan Hall Collection in 2002, and soon celebrities Drew Barrymore and Felicity Huffman were wearing his gowns on the red carpet.
Based in Los Angeles, he still logs lots of air miles, making personal appearances at stores such as R Meyers and interacting with customers.
“I enjoy working with ladies … listening to what they say they like, what they need, what they respond to,” Hall said.
As a result of that connection with clients, he keeps adding collections. Along with his signature line of evening, cocktail and day wear, he launched bridal three years ago, and a sport/golf collection debuted this year.
The sport line was born from his clients’ frustrations. They told him they wear his dresses and gowns but said they couldn’t find great sports clothes made for women.
“They didn’t want to look like one of the guys,” he said.
The collection launched in January and is being targeted to hotel boutiques, stores in resort towns and upscale golf clubs.
Now his clothes can take women from a luncheon to the greens to a gala to their wedding day.
He said he decided to embrace bridal because he felt there was a lot of sameness in the market.
His gowns are simple and pared down, but still beautiful. “They’re really for the bride with a more sophisticated eye. She does not want to look like a cupcake.”
While in Oklahoma City, Hall showed off his fall collection, rich in color with navy, magenta, gold and jade. He’s a detail man and delivers with laser-cut leather, sexy slits on the shoulders and slim silhouettes that flare at the hem.
He also designs exclusive collections, called Kevan Hall Inspirations, for QVC in the United Kingdom, France and Russia, and Home Shopping Network in Italy.
“It’s a wonderful extension of my brand, and we’ll eventually see it in the U.S.,” he said.