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Behind the Runway with Annette Sunshine


Article by Heather Markway

Photography by Heather Markway

Across the Grand Hall during Kansas City Fashion Week (KCFW) Fall/Winter 2020 virtual runway filming I spot the coolest purple hair. I should have known. It was Annette Sunshine, local fashion designer and owner of Annette Sunshine Designs.

Annette's got a unique sense of style and killer eye for mixing and matching patterns and fabric textures. Since her collection debuted in 2019 KCFW, I've admired her work and was extremely excited to see her back for another season on the runway. Annette was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes after her collection was through filming. Learn more about Annette as a person and an inspiring artist in the fashion industry.

Fashion Designer in the Making

Annette's sewing story started at the young age of 10, inspired by her Mother and great Aunt. Annette's Mother made many of her clothes growing up. She vividly remembers a red pleather rain jacket her mother made for her, which she adored!

As a young woman, Annette made her own clothes, including dresses for school dances. As she had her own family, Annette made high school and college event gowns for her two daughters. Annette has had the pleasure of making bridesmaid dresses and even wedding gowns for family members. Annette's love and gift of sewing has been a big part of her life which she's used to bless others.

Full Time Fashion Design

In 2007, Annette's passion officially became a business when she was laid off by her full-time employer. Annette Sunshine Designs was born in her home in Overland Park, KS. "I took a chance. It was a lot of hard work, but I'm doing what I love. Life is too short, you need to do what makes you happy."

Annette has a special interest in textiles. She has studied and traveled across the country seeking the right ones. Textured pieces are Annette's favorite to create. She loves making unique pairings. Some of the different types of fabric found in Annette's 2020 KCFW collection include: wool, faux suede, faux leather, silk, taffeta and burnt lace. She mixed different pieces to incorporate texture and layers. 

Annette's favorite pieces to make are separates, as she likes to mix and match pieces to create fashionable and interesting outfits. She enjoys dressing women of all shapes and sizes. She has a knack for creating plus-sized clothing. As witnessed in the KCFW Spring/Summer 2019 show, Annette's clothing was represented by a diverse group of women of all ages who wore her pieces beautifully.

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Style Inspiration

Annette describes her design style as "not quite funky". She says nothing is off limits and she likes to try different things. Hence, the purple hair. "I died my hair purple because it's fun. People don't expect it."

Annette has a long list of fashion designers who have inspired her over the years. She draws inspiration from Halston's effortless lines from the 70's. "Anyone could wear his designs and look good."   

Missoni's interesting knits has also impacted Annette's design style. She utilized a Missoni knit on one of her Fall/Winter 2020 collection pieces.

Diane Von Furstenberg's iconic wrap dress created in the 70's also ranks as impressionable on Annette's design career.

Last but not least Annette says she also pulls from her Hispanic heritage for colors and textures in her designs.

Advice from a Fashion Designer

Annette's advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in fashion: "Just do it. I wasted too much time being afraid and I regret not doing it sooner." 

Fun facts about Annette: She has over 30 storage tubs of fabric in her more in her sewing studio. Her obsession with fabric is real! Annette is a mom of two daughters and a grandma. She hopes to teach her granddaughter how to sew one day.

Annette's work has been featured in Local Runway, Kansas City Fashion Night Out, Vogue in the Vines and Kansas City Fashion Week events.