Tag Archives: fashion design

The Collectible Juantiesha Christian

October 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Juantiesha Christian is a self-taught fashion designer. She does not have traditional training. She did not take any classes, and she does not hold a fashion degree. She learned her craft by feeling textiles and examining the stitching on clothes in her closet and in stores. 

The realization of her dream to become a fashion designer was based on a feeling. 

The feeling started when she was in college making costumes for her sorority pageant at Northwest Missouri State University. In 2009, she showed her first collection at Omaha Fashion Week. 

After her collection walked the runway, a woman found Christian backstage and insisted on taking home the green mohair coat Christian designed. The prospective client offered her $400 to sell it. 

Seeing people’s reactions coupled with the woman wanting to buy one of her designs gave Christian a new confidence. This was the moment she knew she was ready to go into the fashion industry. 

Local artist Nate Gurnon is a family friend of Christian’s whose artwork was incorporated into some of her designs last season. 

“I’ve know Tiesha for a long time,” he says. “I’m truly impressed with her skill, style, dedication, and willingness to push the boundaries—including my prints from Satisfaction Not Guaranteed, which are a little out of the ordinary.” 

Just as she learned to design by feeling, Christian still lets the fabric lead her when selecting materials for her collections. She doesn’t sketch. Instead, when she walks into a fabric store, she touches the different fabrics and lets the inspiration take her from there. 

Christian’s designs show the history of her growth as a designer—from her very first collection, full of muted green and white dresses; to the later vibrant, Frida Kahlo- inspired clothing, bold and floral; to her most recent work, an interpretation of what Kahlo might have worn today. It is refined, more adult than earlier pieces, while still having that colorful, statement quality that distinguishes her design aesthetic. 

Her ready-to-wear fashion label, SuShe by J. Tracey, is for women who want to stand out in a crowd. 

The brand’s name references her middle name (Tracey) and her first experience with sushi. “It was beautiful and different to me, but I assumed I was not going to like it because it was not my food ‘style,’” she says of sushi. “Once I tried it, I fell in love with it, and it’s one of my favorite foods.” 

Her mission for SuShe by J. Tracey is to create high-quality statement pieces that are affordable and that every woman will feel beautiful wearing. 

“I would love for women with different styles and body types to have at least one statement piece of mine,” Christian says. “Whether they have more of a gothic style, or more of a preppy look, or a glam look. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, even if it’s not their everyday wardrobe.” 

Christian currently resides in New York City while working full-time as a college academic adviser at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She spends the rest of her time designing new collections and creating custom orders. Her long-term goal is to design full time and eventually have her own store. 

Gurnon has no doubt she’ll be able to achieve these goals. 

“To make the move to New York from Omaha with a dream of fashion design is unheard of,” he says. “But she has a lot of support from her family and friends in Omaha. She works hard and it shows, her heart is in fashion.” 

“I want to be remembered for being a very versatile designer and knowing that fashion can be affordable and that it can be enjoyed by everybody,” Christian says. “I know some people want to be known as the all-natural designer, the cruelty-free designer, the plus- size designer, and the vintage designer. I do a little bit of everything.” 


Visit sushebyjtracey.com for more information. 

This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Fashion Nomad

August 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In the fashion world, often known for inflated egos and shameless self-promotion, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is in it for money and fame. 

Up-and-coming local fashion designer Paige Modlin isn’t buying into those ideals. And, like her clothing, it’s downright refreshing. 

In person, her demeanor is quiet. She is hesitant when speaking about herself and her sentences occasionally trail off. One look at her social media tells a different story, though. When modeling her own clothing or just hanging out with friends, her confidence in herself and her personal style is clear. 

Her style, by the way, is very street. She says she likes to focus on shape and silhouette, though color clearly plays a key role in her designs. But most importantly, she likes to make clothes that people feel comfortable in, no matter their gender. “I definitely design clothes for men and women, but that either gender could wear.” 

She adds that her personal style is “sort of all over the place.” One day, she might be feeling the sporty look, the next she may want to do super preppy. Or maybe she’s just feeling a certain color. 

“I was trying to wear all pink today, but I didn’t really have the jacket for it.”

Modlin says she got interested in fashion as a sophomore at Westside High School, from which she graduated last year. She says it’s “crazy how good the program is” there.

She says she was already interested in clothing and shopping, so she decided she “might as well try” making her own. 

Her mother, Pam Modlin, says Paige is the artsy one out of her five children. She was the one who liked to draw or wanted to play the flute. However, “It wasn’t until high school when she started sewing that she really blossomed on the art scene.”

“I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist, but ever since I started making clothes, I was over painting,” says the 19-year-old Modlin. 

She says she finds inspiration everywhere. For her clothing designs, she especially enjoys searching thrift shops, which she visits at least once a day. And of course, “definitely the internet,” specifically Instagram, where she tends to follow others interested in vintage clothing.  At first it may be difficult to see where that vintage inspiration is represented in her designs, but she says it’s usually in the color palette. “I like the bright, retro jumpsuits.”

Modlin says one of her favorite creators is Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons, which makes sense once you’ve peeped his classic yet contemporary designs. While they both emphasize the structure of a piece, Modlin’s clothing is definitely more colorful. That bit of inspiration stems from her affection for Japanese streetwear and designer Takashi Murakami. 

Her love of fashion also drives her to travel. She recently visited her father in Mexico, and before that she travelled to Europe to “self-study” fashion. She was in France and Italy during fashion week, though she didn’t get to attend the actual shows. But she says she found the street art very inspiring, although she did think the lack of color was odd. 

“All the young kids were wearing black or neutral colors, and I was wearing these bright colors. I stood out so much,” she says. “I have this picture [taken] in Rome of me wearing one of the shirts I made and everyone in the background is wearing a black coat…like I’m some crazy girl.” She adds that the people in Amsterdam were more relatable and “way nicer.” 

Next up on her travel list is Japan. “Streetwear is very big in Japan, and that’s where a lot of my inspo comes from.”

When it comes to the future, Modlin says she will continue to study fashion, and she plans on taking classes at Metropolitan Community College. “They have a lot of fun classes there,” she says. Besides fashion design, she also really enjoys photography. Graphic design is another medium she would like to get into more. Plus, she adds, it would be a good skill to have to fall back on. Not that she plans on falling. 

“I want to be able to make my own brand and sell it, and graphic design would definitely fit in with that.” But for now, where she’ll end up is a mystery. “I don’t know,” she says. “I never know!”


This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter. 

See more on the designer’s instagram instagram/@__unknown.jpg