Monday, October 2, 2017

Melange Mode Chats with Style Fashion Week Art & Design Director Kenn Gray

Ana and Marcus Blassingame photographed by Liz Brown for Vibes Collective
We had a great time at Style Fashion Week New York and had the opportunity to speak with SFW Art & Design Director Kenn Gray before Fashion Week Los Angeles. It was wonderful speaking with Kenn and learning more about what to expect from Style Fashion Week and to get to know Kenn! 

Kenn Gray
Melange Mode: Kenn, you have a very diverse background in the fashion and design industries, tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Kenn Gray: Well it all started way back when I was being raised in Booneville, Mississippi a hundred years ago.  Without a lot of creative outlets in my area I had to create them, and so an entrepreneur was born!  I left Mississippi when I was 18 and moved to Los Angeles to study fashion design at famed Otis School of Art and Design.  I ended up, however, making my career in the interior design space, as it just resonated with me more as a career.  This whole time I was modeling as well, and I think my love of fashion as well as interiors has always been a synergistic combo that has driven almost all of my endeavors.

I made my way to NYC, Paris, and Boston, having successes with my interior design firm, owning art galleries and starring on TV shows, my favorite being the series I hosted on the Travel Channel called Travel Spies, before finally moving to Kentucky for reasons no one could understand.

There, I met my wife Bunny Jo and we had our beautiful and uber talented son Fynnton who is now blowing up the small and big screen as well as magazine pages and runways across the globe. We now reside mostly in Palm Springs CA and are very involved in philanthropy and our community among all our other projects, careers and endeavors.  

One of the things I am most excited about is my partnership with Elle France with our Cost Salvaje Tequila brand. This project is very exciting and kind of tics all my boxes of interest. You can visit their website here: 

I have many projects and businesses and wear many hats to be sure and have recently added yet another!  I am now managing models, helping them to brand themselves and push their careers forward.  Some of my amazingly talented models are Claudia Charriez, Oliver Metzger, Mike Keen, and many others including some well known international models.  My aim is to provide a well versed experience base from which to advise and nurture their already clear talents and ready them for the marketplace if they are newbies or hone their skills and brands if they are already established models.
Claudia Charriez
MM: How did you get to be involved with Style Fashion Week?

Kenn: Lee and Veronica Kerzner, owners of Style Fashion Week plucked me up when they were planning the opening of Style Fashion Week in Palm Springs last year.  They quickly realized my extensive background in both the arts as well as fashion and brought me on as the Art & Design Director for all markets of Style Fashion Week - I help produce the events, the art and design marketplace within each market as well as host the red carpet, for which my ‘out of the box’ fashion choices have become known!

Amanda Holley performance at Style Fashion Week New York
MM: What sort of personal touch are you bringing to Style Fashion Week?

Kenn: My antics on the red carpet are certainly noteworthy, or so they say, but more than that, I bring a personal aesthetic that is really in line with the mission of Style Fashion Week.  The effortless way in which Lee and Veronica and our team produces these events is extraordinary and I feel that all of my talents fall right in line with each step of the process and my value is apparent at every turn.
Romeo Hunte
MM: What were some of the highlights from the New York fashion week production for you?

Kenn: The series of events in its entirety was surely the best of fashion week in NYC this season, but some standouts were Malan Breton, who always stops one in their tracks with his flawless and inspired collections.  He sent 60 models down the runway with a couple looks each.  He is the master at inspiration turned into wearable reality and this season really showcased that ability and was touted from one end of the world to the other, just moments after the show finale!  Another bright moment was the Romeo Hunte presentation.  I was personally struck with the ingenuity and high quality of his pieces and must get my own hands on some for my collection and I hope he reads this!

Mason Grammer walking for Malan Breton
The Art & Design Marketplace was also a force to be reckoned with.  Amazing art exhibitions from artists such as Oksana Tanasiv, whose spectacular installation paintings bearing recreations of iconic gowns and celebrities was a show stopper, as were the modelesque busts of Mitchell Cooper.  Also exhibiting was the dance inspired photography of Noel Valero, who even had dancers as installations to accent his pieces! SO many wonderful moments! We even had Nina Edwards creating live fashion illustrations of guests as they arrived onto the red carpet!

MM: Tell us what you have in store for Los Angeles in October?

Kenn: Style Fashion Week Los Angeles is always one of my favorite markets and this season will be no different! The lineup of designers will be publicized soon but I can tell you that it is a fashion week not to miss!  The Art & Design Marketplace in Los Angeles is actually the best of most other markets.  Many artists exhibiting and wonderful brand activations taking advantage of the enormous and targeted exposure that we provide, to the tune of 50,000 attendees and 2.3 billion media impressions!
Marco Jimenez for Grace Moon
MM: What designers are you most excited for? Who should we be on the lookout for?

Kenn: I am in love with Grace Moon.  Her collection in NY was superb!  I also am obsessed with Romeo Hunte as I have already mentioned and everything Malan Breton.  Others that inspire are Honee, David Tupaz and Adrian Alicea.  Looking out for some fierce additions to the roster of fashion design gurus, I would have to include Jose Raul and absolutely Disco Panda for kids!  My son Fynnton loves this line!

Ava Cota walking for Adrian Alicea
MM: For all the aspiring designers, tell us a little bit about how you came to create your own aesthetic and get to where you are today?

Kenn: My own aesthetic is sweat pants and a t shirt! Really, the brand that I have created is one in love with fashion and the truth is, I can not live without it, but i do like my ‘at home with family’ time in my sweats!  However, my role as a ‘Fashion Guru’ started at a very early age and has transformed and developed into what you see today, which I believe to be a melding of may things, not the least of which is current trends and styles coupled with historic references and usually feathers and/or glitter!  I do have a penchant for the dramatic.
Kenn at SFW New York
MM: I know you have been expanding rapidly into new markets, tell us about your plans a bit about where you see Style Week going in the future. 

Kenn: Yes, Style Fashion Week has a long standing reputation as the premier producer of fashion events in many markets from Los Angeles to NYC to even Dubai, but we are constantly expanding and will be moving into many new markets in the coming days such as Tokyo, Mexico, The Hamptons, The Bahamas, Cuba and so on.   It is a very exciting prospect for us to be able to expose these cultures to our creative vision and also to glean so much creative inspiration from these respective cultures.  The economic development aspect of what Style Fashion Week brings to a community is undeniable and working with these governments has been a very fruitful process for Lee and Veronica and the team and promises to enrich the lives and creative culture of so many!

MM: While we have mostly been talking about fashion, interior design is important to our blog as well. How would you describe your interior design aesthetic? What are some of your favorite interior design trends for 2017?

Kenn: I was wondering when you were going to get around to this question!

I have spent my career as an award winning interior designer and love how seamlessly I manage to incorporate my other projects into my life.  Fashion especially has always been very much an inspiration to me in my interior design work.  I just launched my newest Fabric Collection and am about to launch my newest handmade rug line along with a new furniture line so things are gearing up for another very busy year for Kenn Gray Home!

My personal aesthetic is a real mix.  My own home is a mid century masterpiece but the design is not entirely that.  I certainly nod to this era, as I do love the lines and simplicity of it, however, as always, I juxtapose other periods and styles into my design, everything from uber modern to historically important.  I also have an extensive art collection, I used to own the largest art gallery in Boston, which sometimes helps to dictate color palettes or style in a room.

You will see a lot more color than ever before, as evident in my new collections. Also, pattern has become more important.  I always find it so wonderful how what ends up in our homes usually comes down the runway first.  Maybe that is why I seem to always be a step ahead with Interior Design trends since the runway is usually only steps away from me at any given moment.

We love Kenn's pop color collection! See more on his website:

Thanks to Kenn for spending some time with us, and we're looking forward to Style Fashion Week Los Angeles October 11-15!

Follow Kenn on Instagram @kenngrayhome 

All photos supplied by Kenn Gray unless otherwise noted


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  12. Looks like Kenn Gray is SO far away from the fashion world now. Divorced from his wife AND his boy toy, he's returned to the city that was so happy to get rid of him, Paducah KY. 2020 ended with Miss Kenn being the prodigal son... unwanted, of course.

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