South Exclusive: Savannah’s Kathryn Hayes Picked for Charleston Fashion Week

Kathryn Hayes, whose famed Mix Julep line and inspired use of colors and patterns have made her a rock star of Savannah fashion, is taking her signature Georgia style across the state line with a runway show at the prestigious Charleston Fashion Show.

The rollout of her “Resort 2018 Collection” will mark Hayes’ debut at Charleston Fashion Week, and she’s taking this next big step in fashionable stride. The collection includes 12 brand-new looks created just for the show, fresh for the runway and kept under tight wraps until then.

But Hayes was nice enough to give us a tiny sneak preview of what to expect.

“There are a lot of colors inspired by tropical island sunsets,” she said of her new collection. “There are lots of neon orange and yellow and metallic and golds.”

But the red-hot palate of the setting sun is only part of the new collection’s allure. “What I really like about this collection is you can mix and match to create different looks.”

While Charleston readies for its introduction to Hayes’ brilliant designs, Savannah is already well acquainted with her Savannah Fashion Week shows and her Mix Julep line. And as much inspiration as you’ll find in her designs, there’s even more to be found in her story.

Floral Brocade Shift Dress and Tweed Shift Dress from Hayes' Spring 2017 line.

Hayes, 37, originally set out to be an interior designer, hoping to find what she calls a “safe” way to meld her mile-wide creative streak with the more sensible world of construction (her father was a builder).

“Back when I was in college, being born and raised in Savannah I thought (life as a fashion designer) was too farfetched,” she said. “The thought of being a fashion designer never crossed my mind because no one was doing that back then. Not in Savannah.”

 But her passion ran just under the surface, spurred on by a couple of moments of artistic inspiration. The first came when she and her husband moved to Atlanta and she met her neighbor Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. “When I met her I was so impressed and thought I’d love to do that one day. I don’t know if that’s where it started.”

The floodgates of inspiration would open wide after the birth of Hayes’ second child, when she took up painting. Artistic expression in one form soon evolved into a small fashion collection, the spark of a long-dormant dream to open a boutique.

“I decided to do four dresses, and that’s where it began,” she said.

The dream for a boutique evolved into a dream for a full-fledged fashion brand, and Mix Julep was born.

“There are so many parts to the business, and there’s such a challenge factor. I think that’s what I needed,” she said. “It’s an exciting business and I love it. It’s my passion, it just took me a while to figure that out.”

Which goes to show you can’t rush inspiration. Check out Hayes’ Resort 2018 Collection during Charleston Fashion Week, March 14-18.

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