Jackie Fraser-Swan: The Girl with the Chanel Tattoo
After building her collection of Chanel bags and baubles, Fraser-Swan began dreaming of catwalks and cashmere. But she was also business-savvy enough to recognize that turning those dreams into reality would take a substantial investment of time and money. She studied the fashion magazines and websites as though they were textbooks, following every move of the designers she admired. “I wouldn’t shut up about fashion and about who was doing what,” she recalls. So in the summer of 2009, with two daughters under the age of three, Fraser-Swan enrolled in the School of Fashion Design on Newbury Street. After a semester, she decided she was ready to launch a line of her own.
She left the school and developed a four-step plan: create a collection; hire a PR firm; open a showroom and find seamstresses; trot out a new line during Fashion Week. In the spring of 2010, she traveled every week to New York to work with a sample maker on a 30-piece collection crafted with fabrics sourced from Paris. In July of that year, Fraser-Swan opened a studio on the tony first block of Newbury Street, and two months later she self-produced a catwalk on the rooftop of New York’s swanky Empire Hotel during fall Fashion Week. Then People’s Revolution, an influential PR firm that’s repped everyone from Valentino to Mara Hoffman and Lulu Guinness, took her on.
The first store to pick up Fraser-Swan’s Emerson brand was the legendary Boston clothing retailer Louis. Owner and buyer Debi Greenberg discovered Fraser-Swan via e-mail (one of countless solicitations she receives daily) and decided to carry her fall 2011 line. “The confidence shines through,” Greenberg says of Fraser-Swan’s designs. “It’s not like she’s being influenced by hanging around a young, superhip crowd out there.”
Exactly one year after her rooftop show in New York, the still relatively unknown designer got her break: a coveted invitation to show her spring/summer collection at the official Fashion Week venue. She’d have to show in the 9 a.m. time slot and in the second- smallest of the event’s four Lincoln Center tents—but there was no doubting that Jackie Fraser-Swan was on her way.
Some press surrounded the show, including mentions in Women’s Wear Daily and Harper’s Bazaar. Then IMG Fashion executive producer Christina Neault invited Fraser-Swan back to Lincoln Center for the February 2012 Fashion Week, this time with a sought-after 9 p.m. time slot. Neault’s reasoning was simple: Fraser-Swan had the resources and talent to stick around long enough to give her line the chance for success. “I don’t want to have designers show with us who are one-hit wonders,” she says, “who are going to do one show, spend a lot of money, and not be able to afford it next month or next season.”
“And all of a sudden,” says Fraser-Swan’s good friend and pilates instructor Pam Araujo, “she just had this fashion career, like overnight.”