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Meet Designer Clarissa Knighten


Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Jenn Robbins, Jo Hartley, Eli Stack, J. Piggie

"Self-Taught Jewelry Artist."

I will never forget the first moment I met Clarissa "Rissa" Knighten at a Kansas City Fashion Week Oak Park Mall Rack Check and had a physical reaction to her calming presence, voice, and overall nature. Especially because, as an "Influencer Collective" member for KCFW who had never interacted behind the scenes with the designers, I innocently (selfishly?!) asked if she had ever considered a statement piece that draped the back; lo and behold, she liked it, designed it, and I nearly jumped out of my front-row chair when I saw it come so gorgeously down the Union Station runway!

What you want your legacy to be: "Everyone that wears or displays my work would pass it down to their children with a story of hope."

Beautiful inside and out, Rissa is a Kansas City maker, designer, artist, and leader who has a gift for intricate and wearable art, and I LOVED getting more insight into her personality in my 25 Questions for #KCFW Fashion Designers. She's also a former corporate-world participant, like many of us, whose fate thrust her into acting on her creative brilliance, which has turned into an amazing legacy she has built and will stunningly leave behind (Rissa, I nominate myself to inherit it all)!

As a chunky-jewelry-obsessed fashionista myself, Rissa's "one-of-a-kind masterpieces" range in materials, size, color, and style that I adore, and to hear that Lenny Kravitz would be a dream for Rissa to dress, it made me smile envisioning the real possibility of that occurring (plus, I am literally in the midst of reading Kravitz's new book; soul sisters?!)! This season's "Mixed Media" inclusive of copper, pearls, leather, shells, antlers and more blew me away on the virtual runway.

And her diverse selection of models was NOT TOO SHABBY either. Wink, Wink.

Her seemingly unlimited capacity for love, patience, inclusivity, and gratitude, combined with her admirable drive for representing people of all walks, translates into her clients/friends/family feeling beautiful and empowered. With a "Never Miss an Interaction" MO that has clearly given her open doors, new relationships, and new opportunities, her perspective on life is one we should all tune into, to be led by a beautiful Kansas City soul changing the landscape of our creative maker scene!

Life motto/words to live by:
"Never Dismiss an Interaction."
"Art Heals."
"Listen More, Speak Less."

Thank you, Clarissa, for gracing the Kansas City Fashion Week runways and beyond with your presence season after season!!

  1. Where are you originally from? A small town in Arkansas (alongside the Mississippi)
  2. Where do you now call home? Kansas City, MO - Northlander!!!!
  3. In one word, describe YOU. Courageous
  4. In one word, describe your DESIGNS. Conversations
  5. All-time favorite fashion designer, dead or alive: Karl Lagerfeld
  6. Most under-the-radar fashion designer: Those that don't take a chance on themselves
  7. Vote for most fashionable city: Thailand
  8. Favorite boutique 1) in your city 79 Roze – I am pretty curvy myself.
  9. Favorite person who has worn your label to-date: My mom
  10. Person that excites you the most to dress: Taraji P. Henson / Demi Moore / Lenny Kravitz
  11. Your current muse: Deer antler and leather
  12. What you want your legacy to be: Everyone that wears or displays my work would pass it down to their children with a story of hope.
  13. If people could own JUST ONE thing designed by you, what would it be? Anything
  14. If you weren't a fashion designer, what would you be? An architect
  15. What’s a fashion statement you wish would come back OR wish never returns? Elephant-legged pants (NEVER!!!) Wide lapels ... I would like to see them again.
  16. Where does your design inspiration come from?Jesus Christ
  17. What do you listen to while in the creative mode? Podcast? Music? Book? At the moment, I am reading "Holy Educated Mother F...." by Dr. Nicole Price. Mostly I enjoy working in silence, however. A good audiobook or podcast (anything) as long as it keeps my attention. But when I am really deep in thought, I like to watch old sitcoms: Andy Griffith, Golden Girls and Mork & Mindy.
  18. You can take 3 single items to a deserted island, not including a person: I would wear hiking boots so that doesn't count. 1. HUGE bag of fire starter stuff 2. Knife 3. Tarp (a good tarp is underrated)
  19. What you love about Kansas City Fashion Week? The opportunities
  20. How would you describe Kansas City? A city with a lot of potential
  21. Favorite places in Kansas City: All over. We have hidden jewels all over the city.
  22. Favorite restaurant in Kansas City: Currently San Antonio Grocery Store Restaurant (In the Northeast)! Carnitas Burrito with the Green Sauce...YUM!!!!
  23. Favorite shop in Kansas City: Birdies
  24. Life motto/words to live by: "Never Dismiss an Interaction." "Art Heals." "Listen More, Speak Less."
  25. Favorite Instagrammable spot for fashionistas in Kansas City: I don't know. Tell me.

F/W '20:

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F/W '19 & S/S '20:

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