The Genteel
March 7, 2021


Aaron Potts at his booth in New York City's Bryant Park.

Inside a glass booth in New York City's Bryant Park, a little girl with pink ear muffs twirls around a mannequin. She extends her arms for its red afro wig, but she can only reach its tutu. Putting an end to her cavorting, the girl's mother points to the its fashion-card-covered corset and cheers, "look at those girls…they are dancing!"

Chic in Love Cards. Original designs and
illustrations by Aaron Potts

Aaron Potts watches the caper with amusement. The fashion designer by trade and stationary illustrator by hobby, sells his cards during the winter holiday season in one of Manhattan's most prized green spaces. He uses the dummy, which has most likely arrived from a show room in the Garment District nearby, as a display vehicle for his pencil and watercolour illustrations that showcase women in dramatic dresses and feminine poses. Some greeting and note cards resemble supermodels and singers, Tyra Banks and Diana Ross, with their wild bobs and full lips, standing tall over their microphones. Others take after everyday women - pregnant, single or married, and mothers.

With one for every possible occasion - from weddings and birthdays to Christmas and Hanukkah - the couture cards, most importantly, speak to a woman's inner fashion diva. Potts, with his creative restlessness, has every intention of pleasing and entertaining the chic - the tempered mix of sexiness with girly flirtatiousness - in every woman. "As style purveyors and lovers of art and culture," says the Detroit-native, who immersed himself in the the counter-culture of the 60s, listening to Motown record labels that revolutionized American pop music and inspired much of the cultural and racial breakthroughs in the coming decades, "they set the precedence of glamour." 

Parsons School of Design alumni Donna Karan critiqued his fashion show for his BFA in Fashion Design. "The girls look like they are going places," she pointed out in his prima donna sketches, and employed him at her label, DKNY. Apprenticeships with Emanuel Ungaro, Anne Klein, ESCADA, Victoria's Secret and Badgley Mischka, gave birth to many of his signature evening dresses that Sudanese supermodel Alek Wek classified as "perfectly modern and effortless." International celebrities, including singer-songwriter Carrie Underwood and actress Sienna Miller, praised his work. Grey's Anatomy actress Katherine Heigl wore his ESCADA taffeta gown to the Golden Globe Awards while best-selling artist Whitney Houston chose his sketch for KaufmanFranco to design her dress for the 2009 American Music Awards.

Mannequin dressed in a tutu and corset
covered with Potts' cards.

The apex of Potts' stationary collection - bold shapes and graphic compositions, joyful colours and intricate details - has made fashion design accessible to his fans. By illustrating his ideas from high fashion runways and exclusive design ateliers, Potts rewards them with an affordable, stimulating experience. "The idea is to take runway and high fashion elements, mix them with good vibes, and make them accessible to people as greeting cards," remarks Potts, who charges less than $30 for each set; First Lady Michelle Obama set of eight note cards costs $21.95.

His themed card collections draw focus and raise spirits without losing the element of surprise and grandeur. For his Birthday Card Collection, Potts featured prima donnas in trademark poof skirts and bobs, holding large birthday cakes and small cupcakes, sitting on gigantic wrapped gift boxes, leaning against wedding cakes. His eye for eloquence and extravagance dips into his ultra-stylish Christmas & Holiday Collection of divas most happily found in long, slim gowns and carrying grandiose gifts of love. Finally, in his Love collection, Potts' tendency to adore the feminine silhouette is illustrated strongly in their tilted poses, with one leg pivoted forward and arm properly angled at the hip, which scream bold attitude while maintaining grace.

Potts hasn't given up on fashion design; he is currently a designer for top-tier label Ellen Tracy. By his own admission, Potts supports the idea that fashion is more than just clothing - it is art as much as it is a lifestyle. He hopes to establish his own fashion label using his artistry which he uses as an advertising engine. By utilizing his unprecedented creativity that cemented his love for fashion, the illustration hero expects to bring joy to women instead of dummies.




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