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When Audra Noyes was a kid growing up in Hockessin, her mom, Susan, guessed early that she would be doing something with fashion.
“From the early days when she was playing dress-up where she had to have everything just right and the Halloween costumes had to be perfect to being a teenager who went shopping and always had the perfect vision of what she wanted, I knew she had an eye for this,” Susan said.
Still, Susan never guessed that eye for colors and shapes would thrust her daughter onto the international scene’s biggest stages. Yet last week, she saw her daughter’s designs draped on the shoulders of supermodels during Paris Fashion Week, one of the most prominent fashion events in the world.
Noyes’ line, called “AUDRA,” debuted at the end of September at the Espace Commines, a venue that has featured legends such as Alexander McQueen. The line included 37 garments, four of which earned the coveted “Haute Couture” designation. The designer said running a show at that level can be stressful, chaotic and exhausting, but all of that pales in comparison with the feeling she got seeing her designs on stage.
“It was a beautiful moment for me as I was backstage and sending [the models] out,” Noyes said. “People finally got to see what I’ve been seeing in my head for months. It was very personal and touching.”
Noyes’ describes her style as “Haute Bohemia,” saying it blends Parisian expectations of luxury and detail with a sense of freedom and playfulness. For AUDRA, she didn’t look for inspiration in designing individual pieces, but created a broader theme or story, and created the designs to match it.
She said the show was designed to evoke a girl growing into womanhood. The first pieces are very playful, all pure whites and beiges. The outfits become a bit more transparent to give a sense of understanding oneself, with some intentional awkwardness meant to give the feeling of growing up.
As the show progresses, more color and bold lines appear.
“By the time we get to the end, she is a queen,” Noyes said. “She’s strong, she’s unique and she’s confident in that uniqueness.”
Noyes said there’s a reason the line bears her name.
“Absolutely, it’s 100 percent biographical,” she said. “This is the story of me, of me playing dress-up in my dad’s clothes and my mom’s prom dress and gradually finding my own way. That’s the story and it’s mine, and I hope it’s a story that every woman will experience
if they haven’t already.”
A 2006 graduate of the Tower Hill School
in Wilmington, Noyes says her passion for art and design blossomed during her junior year at the school.
“I took AP art, and the teachers
just totally let me go wild,” Noyes said. “They encouraged my creativity. They helped me to realize how much I loved making art.”
Noyes went on to study fashion design at the Savannah College
of Art and Desigin in Georgia. Her work was enough to impress André Leon Talley, the former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine who sits on the college’s board.
On the strength of Talley’s recommendation, Noyes moved to Paris for an internship at the couture house Lanvin. She worked at Lanvin and John Galliano before launching AUDRA.
Audra Noyes, center in the pink vest, stands with models wearing her AUDRA fashion line. / Courtesy of Sally DeWees