psychoPEDIA: Daily News

My Town: Kansas City, Missouri
Peggy Noland on Fashion & a Cat-Eating Goat-Dog

It’s long been a myth that fledgling designers must set up shop in one of the world’s leading style capitals in order to register more than a blip on fashion’s radar. But Kansas City-based Peggy Noland’s flight into fashion, along with her eye-catching designs, is making a big impact. Noland’s one-year-old Kansas City boutique –- a tiny space painted to “look like [someone is] standing in a 15-foot-high cheeseburger” -- and her line, has not only made her a hometown hit, but also a favorite of indie-rock frontwomen and style mavens (Lovefoxx of CSS and Kianna of Tilly and the Wall included).

And to think that this former Religion Studies major-turned-fashion designer started her own boutique and subsequent namesake line as a backup plan after being turned down from the Peace Corps (about which she’s still somewhat bitter). Despite being currently exclusive to Kansas City, Moscow, and Tokyo, Noland’s outrageously colorful eponymous label– which includes alphabet-print full body spandex suits and flashy, figure-skater-style leotards– have appeared in Nylon, Spin, and Rolling Stone.

Considering the self-proclaimed proud Kansas City local even outfits her garment labels with the name of her hometown, psychoPEDIA pegged Noland as the ultimate tour guide. To take us through the “Heart of America”– a birthplace of jazz, President Harry Truman [by way of neighboring Independence, Noland’s own original stomping grounds], and some of the country’s best-known BBQ– is the raven-haired pixie herself:

What makes you proud to be from your town?
There are a lot of great opportunities specific to Kansas City. Namely, those dedicated to supporting local artists. The rent is cheap, we get the best of four seasons, and the conversation is good.

And the most annoying?
We could use about a million more people here, give or take a few.

Would you say Independence is like a Midwestern time capsule?
Yes, it's definitely a walk to school, don't lock your doors, pot-lucky type a town. I love casserole!

Speaking of, what would you put in a time capsule to future Kansas City residents?
Mardi-Gras beads, a Boomba doll, and a Ssion album.

Is the scene anything like the '30s-era jazz-inspired, Robert Altman [also a KC native] film Kansas City?
I am assuming it has something to do with mob activity? That still goes on mainly in the north part of downtown...

Where would you go to experience the city’s rich history in jazz?
The Jazz District still has lots of life in it. There is a wonderful organization called the Mutual Musicians Foundation, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (where Buck O'Neil sightings were regular), great restaurants, The Kansas City Call, and opportunities for live music, readings and such.

What about the best BBQ– seeing as how you're one of the BBQ capitals of the country (hence "KC Masterpiece")?
This is a never-ending debate around here. Everyone knows better than the next person, you know? People love Gates, Arthur Bryant's, Jack Stack, LC's, and of course the freshest barbeque around at the American Royal.

You’re also famed to have almost as many fountains as Italy. Any you'd love to take an illegal dip in?
I've heard that too, that's weird. Cabela's Indoor Fountain... Waterfall!

How would you describe the Midwest/Kansas City style-du-jour?
The stigma of the Midwest being fairly conservative isn’t necessarily incorrect. However, people are often surprised, as am I, with some serious style that goes on here. I think there is just so much less of it, comparatively, that it doesn't get the credit. Style doesn't need to be recognized to exist. Like, if a kid dresses weird in Kansas City, and no one is there to see it, does he still dress weird?

Could you see someone wearing your designs to grocery shop in the middle of the day?
I have seen it! There was a spandex burkha sighting in the produce section of the SunFresh Grocery Store! What a freak.

What are your favorite vintage stores in town?
There is really good vintage/thrift shopping here. Vintage Vogue is top-notch. Boomerang, and Re-Runs are worth the trip too. You could easily fill a day with all the thrift stores in the area. Every Salvation Army is 50% off on Wednesdays, and the DAV on the Boulevard even has a ton of weird free stuff!

Where would you go to rock out in one of your namesake leotards?
The Auditorium, Joe's Standard Bar, The Ship, Hassle Castle and The Like!

Does the music of your indie-icon fans [Lovefoxx and Kianna] similarly inspire your designs?
Without a doubt! I was a huge fan of both Tilly and the Wall and CSS, long before I ever started designing for them. Both are dream teams to work with. The perfect collaboration is possible!

Any local musicians you'd like to outfit?
Currently working on wardrobing Ssion. They needed a makeover BAD! (Kidding.) I also work with Epic's newest artists Vedera. Kristen happens to my best friend and acting fit model.

Any other recent projects you’re excited about?
I loved working with Erin [Magee] on the [last] MadeMe collection. She might be the hardest working gal I've met in a long time. We were fast friends. Next up, Jamaica Fashion Week!

Do you plan to expand your boutiques?
In August we are doing a guerrilla-style, one-month boutique in Tokyo. All garments will be wrapped in black garbage bags and everything is $50 (USD), every style is limited to that space! We have already done a lot of preparation, so it will be wonderful to get there and see it come to fruition.

Would you say you're the most outrageous entity to come out of Kansas City? If not, who is?
The city has its own urban legend! There is a dog named Hersene that is said to be half goat that lurks around the west side of Kansas City eating cats! I don't think it's any coincidence that 7 of my roommates’ 8 cats are missing half their ears! Yikes!

~Leann Peterson

Go There:
Vintage Vogue, 12012 E US Highway 40, Independence. (816) 356-7770
Boomerang, 1415 W 39th St, Kansas City. (816) 531-6111

Third photo by Robert Gill
Eighth photo by Judy Baxter via Flickr
Tenth photo by Raulsgal via Flickr
Eleventh photo by Indoloony via Flickr

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