As the seamstress behind K Fro Designs, Milwaukee's Kristin Froehlich excels in femininity. She's the kind of designer whose craft accentuates all the things that separates a female from her male counterpart -- the softness, the delicateness, the sexiness. The kind who designs not just women's clothes, but the kind of clothes that make a woman really feel like a woman. She's a girl who keeps a picture book of Madeleine Vionnet's haute couture on hand at all times.
The results are ravishing.
Froehlich specializes in dress design, but we're not talking about your simple, summer afternoon affair. Her pieces are an exercise in precise elegance and sophisticated style, employing predominantly silk chiffons and satins. Still, there's an element of edge to her work that makes it more accessible than your typical red carpet collection.
"My aesthetic is very classic, feminine amd romantic, but also a bit sexy," she says. "I like to draw upon really successful designers of the past who have come up with unbelievable methods of designing and putting things together. I try to bring all of that history into the 21st century to design something classic but at the same time thoroughly modern."
Froehich, a Mount Mary College graduate and Cedarburg native, references her design deity -- the famed French Vionnet.
"She really revolutionized the way that clothing was designed and put together because she worked with fantastic silks and used new techniques like biased draping. If you look at any of the women in those great MGM movies from the 1930s, they wore long, slinky gorgeous silk dresses that were backless, sleeveless and so statuesque. That's the kind of designer she was."
Although she fawns over luxurious fabrics and glorious gowns, Froehlich recognizes a girl's need to tone it down a notch from time to time. Her summer collection features fresh, spirited pieces that work on a more casual level.
"With the summer coming I've been experimenting with fun prints, cottons and knit fabrics," she says. "I'm excited about new fabrics on the market that are similar to Missoni-style knits, but much less expensive and much easier to sew with. It's nice and stretchy, it's comfortable, it's got lot of different colors, and you can dress it up or dress it down."
Aala Reed owner Laura Lutter Cole recently picked up the K Fro line for her Brady Street boutique. Froehlich also works there and does some of the store's personal tailoring.
"My pieces fit really well into a boutique setting, which is one of the reasons why I was so excited when Laura asked me if I wanted to feature some of my pieces there. She's been really enthusiastic about me developing my line and bringing more pieces into the store - she's very supportive."
K Fro items start at $100, though Froehlich says some couture pieces fall into the $500 to $700 range, depending on design and materials.
Look for her Web site, kfrodesigns.com, to be up by the end of May.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”