Supporters of Love

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

This Week's Feature: Just Faux Fun

Designer, Jo Claire Dodson
Jo Claire Dodson is the owner of The Art School in Conway, Arkansas and her varied visual arts background has enabled her to become a well rounded emerging fashion designer.  Dodson recently showed her collection for her line, Just Faux Fun, at Little Rock Fashion Week 2011.  She is also one of our special guests at our next event, Your Girl Friend's Closet, and will be making a generous donation to Women and Children First.  Experienced and educated in art gives her line an edge with a creative eye for design.  She also enjoys fashion illustration and uses her sketches to create her pieces.  Hear what Dodson says about her new career in fashion design.  

Just Faux Fun designs by Jo Claire Dodson.
Photo by Mariah Allen Photography

Can you describe your line, Just Faux Fun?

The Just Faux Fun collection is a mix of  versatile faux fur items such as jackets, pullovers, gilets, vests, coats and skirts.  Any age group would be comfortable wearing any of the pieces.  Many pieces are unstructured so that one size fits "most".  My goal for this collection is to offer an affordable item that can be dressed up or down.  Casual chic is a timely look and one that most people can achieve with a few classic items.  Also, many people now want a choice between real fur and faux.  Just Faux Fun clothing gives the buyer that choice.  Because I teach young people at my art school I am also keenly aware of how youth ties their self-esteem to how they look.  One of my goals with this line of clothing is to provide a hip look that is affordable for young people.

Just Faux Fun
Photo by Mariah Allen Photography

What is your educational and/or experience in fashion design and how has that helped you in your current work?

My background for fashion is actually rooted in my love of art.  I majored in art at Hendrix College so I have an educational background in all aspects of various media.  I've studied color theory, design, art history and  aesthetics.  In other words, I have studied what makes great art.  Those same qualities that make art great can also be translated to clothing.  Good clothing, like good art makes an impression.  I see fashion as wearable art.

Just Faux Fun
Photo by Mariah Allen Photography

You recently showed your collection at Little Rock Fashion Week.  What successes came from that event?

Showing my collection during Little Rock Fashion Week 2011 brought me some attention.  I actually got some buyers straight from the audience.  Also, a small boutique has expressed interest in carrying a few pieces in her store.  I've sold to friends that attended the show but had never seen my designs as well.

Photo by Ejji Studios/  Little Rock Fashion Week  

Where did you draw your inspiration from for your current collection?

My inspiration for this collection comes from  the generation I grew up in.    I was a pre-teen in the 60's and a teenager in the 70's.  My brother and sister were older and kept up with the music scene, so of course I was exposed to all the latest trends in music and fashion.  My father  brought home international fashion and music magazines from downtown Little Rock's one and only international book stand.   I fell in love with the "London Look".  I followed the popular models such as Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, and Patti Boyd. I watched what designers such as Mary Quant, who created the mini-skirt, and Ozzie Clark who used all of those fabulous prints, were doing.   The French designer, agnes b., also did some simple but fabulous designs.  My mother and grandmother also  loved fashion so Vogue, Seventeen, Ingenue, and Glamour magazines were around the house. Rock stars and their girlfriends all wore fur pieces.  Mick Jagger and his girlfriend, the singer,  Marianne Faithful  wore outrageous clothing, as did George Harrison and his wife, the model, Patti Boyd.  Jane Birkin, the French singer and her husband, Serge Gainesbourg also were two of the most best dressed style icons of that time.  The Hermes Birkin bag was named after Jane.  All of the art pop culture, music,  and fashion set influenced me.  I soaked the whole scene up!

Photo by Ejji Studios/  Little Rock Fashion Week  

When choosing fabrics to work with, what are you looking for?

When choosing fabric I  look for faux fur fabric that is quality but also affordable.  There are some super faux fur products available now for designers as well as decorators to use.  I also look for unusual colors or print designs.  I like for each piece to be unique for the wearer.  I try to select fabric that would look great with a turtleneck and blue jeans, or worn over a dress with nice jewelry and high heels. 

What is the one question you wish someone would ask you and what would be the answer?

The question I wish someone would ask would be: would you be able to produce a line of your faux fur pieces for our stores?  My answer would be:  YES, I CAN DO THAT.

Artist and designer Jo Claire Dodson teaching one of her students.

Can you describe your art school and how has an art background been beneficial in your fashion endeavors?

My art school is in Conway, Arkansas.  It is called The Art School because it is an educational art facility.  I teach a fine arts program for children which is multifaceted.  It includes all aspects of drawing, painting, pottery, print-making and much more.  Students can enter competitions and take their art education as far as they want to go with it.  I also have adult students who take painting and drawing and any other medium they are interested in.  My classes are small.  I seat nine to a class.  I work individually with each student.  Most of my students have been with me long term.  Many have gone on to careers in art.  My own love of art and educational background in it  has aided me because I am able to see fashion as wearable art.  The way a piece of clothing is designed, the colors that are used, even the way a small button is placed can all make a difference in how an item is perceived or worn.  Clothing to me is like good sculpture, only the body is the form the sculpture fits on.

Students at The Art School painting a mural

Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion designers?

To aspiring fashion designers I would say simply, "go with your gut feeling".  If you like flowing evening dresses and that appeals to you, then try it!  If you like the more tailored classic look, then go with that!  I think designers should start with what they like and what they would want to wear.  If you really like a certain type of look or clothing, chances are, someone else will like that too.  So you might as well be the one to create it!

What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?

The most difficult aspect of running my own label is, of course, time and money.  It takes thoughtful time to design and then actually turn that design into a wearable creation.  It also takes money to buy the material because you want to give the buyer what they've paid for.  If you turn out a good product people will recognize that and they will pay for it.  They will also be a return customer, so you want to carefully consider what a piece of clothing is made of and how it is made.  Clothing creation is a process that involves both time and money,  and it takes careful planning to handle both well.  Quality is key.  Quality is what has made THE ART SCHOOL a success and quality is what will make Just Faux Fun a success.

Where can people find your designs and keep up with what you are doing?

People can look at some of the designs that were on the runway during Little Rock Fashion Week Showcase on my Facebook page that is called THE ART SCHOOL (all caps).  I am working on getting a website.  I can also be contacted by phone, 501-269-1208 for clothing or art lessons!  My email address is  If anyone is interested in looking at the Just Faux Fun Collection they can do any of those things and find me!


  1. Jo Claire was right on trend with those faux fur vests. I am seeing them everywhere!