Talking with…
Fashion Designer Leslie Pennel of Esque

Esque means ‘like’ or ‘resembling.’ I cannot remember when I actually decided on this word to be my brand, but I like it because it doesn’t really mean anything. It also doesn’t make you think of anything else.
Esque started when I returned from Europe. I completed my internship in apparel studies at the UA after attending fashion shows in London, job shadowing visual merchandisers at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, and writing a comparison paper on visual merchandising throughout the UK, Paris and Scotland.
When I returned I put together a presentation book including different pieces I had collected throughout my three-month stay. This book was an artistic expression that captured all my experiences. It included many pictures that I had taken of graffiti art throughout London, Paris, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
I completed my degree receiving a bachelor’s in human environmental sciences, majoring in apparel studies.
I began to feed my graffiti art obsession by spray-painting stencils on anything I could get my hands on. I got used canvas from thrift stores, wood panel out of dumpsters, t-shirts, purses, caps, etcetera. I showed them to Jennifer Linton, owner of Snapdragon, where I worked. She allowed them to be sold at her store along with other local purse and jewelry designers. I was doing stencils of Amelie from the movie and quotes such as “I Love Modernism.” I designed t-shirts for the local band, Wooden Stares.
Art Amiss asked if I would like to enter my designs in their bi-annual fashion show. I accepted. This fashion show was my first attempt at designing the garment itself beyond adding a graphic. I covered a second-hand bridesmaid skirt with wood chips that I had individually spray-painted and coated with polyurethane. I placed the chips on the skirt in a mosaic pattern.
After the Art Amiss show I tried to get involved locally with anything that had to do with fashion. I helped coordinate the SARPA. (Sexual Assault and Rape Protection Agency) Fashion Show at George’s Majestic Lounge. I was in charge of models, sponsors and bringing in other local designers. I helped with other parts of the show too, such as painting props for the runway and stage.
After this show people started asking where they could buy my designs. This was the first presentation of the “I’m Your Present” dress. I made a few after the show and talked to Becca Russell at Maude Boutique about selling them at her store. She accepted and they have been selling really well. I also sell them on Myspace. Something Urban recently picked up my line. I have four dresses at both stores.
I’m having the first show of my own, on July 17 at Tangerine in Fayetteville. The theme is circus/carnival and called “The Greatest Show on Earth.” I will be showing 20 of my latest creations modeled by 20 of Fayetteville’s loveliest ladies. There will be a themed drink menu with drinks such as “The Strongman” and “The Bearded Lady.” Admission is free and there will be complimentary desserts.
When I am not having fashion shows, I am a seamstress. I am the seamstress for Maude Boutique and The Buckle. I have my own alterations, fashion and costume design, personal shopping and closet consulting business. I am the lead wardrobe tech at the Walton Arts Center. I also assist Matthew Kesner with projects for The Factory Collective.

Categories: Features