Needle & Black

MN Design Diaries in the Star Tribune!

Karisa Yang, age 11, received advice from designer Kerry Riley. 


The story of style

By SARA GLASSMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: March 16, 2011 – 6:48 PM


Minneapolis-based Needle and Black designer Kerry Riley, 34, is keeping diaries — specifically, Minnesota Design Diaries.

As part of the new program sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), Riley and other designers are teaching a group of girls about the local fashion scene. The goal of the project is to preserve stories about the community, said Aleah Vinnick, young adult audience specialist for the MNHS. Through intergenerational learning, Vinnick hopes the young participants will be “inspired by designers’ work to create a new history.”

During a recent lesson, designer Kimberly Jurek demonstrated how to drape fabric on a form, Laura Fulk talked about how she uses fabric as an inspiration for design and Riley demonstrated how to work with leather.

After some persuading, Cathy Soto, 13, of Minneapolis, and Karisa Yang, 11, of Brooklyn Park, showed Riley their design diaries. Riley praised one of Soto’s pencil sketches as “a really interesting design, really cool.”

In addition to her work with the design diaries project, Riley also teaches a free, drop-in crafting class for youths at Old Arizona on Thursday afternoons, which has included making duct-tape tote bags and painting fabric.

An experienced sewer, Soto has been part of that class, as well. The soft-spoken teen said she’s really gotten into fashion. “You can express yourself by doing something other people can wear,” she said. “You can be creative and do what you want with it.”

Soto and the other girls involved in Minnesota Design Diaries will make a final presentation in April. “The first time you show your work it’s frightening,” said Riley, “but it will give them such confidence and a sense of public accomplishment.”

Aaliyah West, age 16 sketched a dress for the Minnesota Design Diaries.



When: 4 to 6 p.m., April 17.

Where: Old Arizona, 2821 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls.,

What: A final presentation will feature a runway show of local designers and new garments by the program’s participants. A slide show will include interviews that the girls did with the designers.

Tickets: Free.