Stepping Up

Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Maison Joan Dominique

Sunshine has broken through the clouds in Manhattan, and a confident Joan Dominique leans back on a park bench while her French bulldog Zola prances about the dog park. Though she grew up in Paradise Valley, she’s clearly found her place among the hustle and bustle of the city lights, and she wears her assuredness like a fine scarf.

This ambitious entrepreneur has plenty to be proud of. At just 23 years old, her path to success is draped in Savile Row fabrics, polished leather and fine hand-embellished embroidery.

The luxury men’s lifestyle line that she’s launched, Maison Joan Dominique, has made its debut at Phoenix Fashion Week and at the exclusive Paris Fashion Week this month—not a small accomplishment for any aspiring designer, much less one who is relatively new on the scene.

Joan Dominique dipped her toe in the fashion industry with her seminal line of haute men’s shoes. Named as another nod to Savile Row couture, Digital Bespoke Shoes walk the line between timeless and trendy. 

Not only is her footwear crafted with high-quality leather and accouterments, Maison Joan Dominique adds the optional touch of 3-D scanning to ensure individualized fit and comfort.

Like many innovative ideas, 3-D scanning has taken time for the general public to embrace, but that hasn’t dimmed Joan’s light. 

“Right now, I don’t think consumers are ready for the whole process of custom sizing. I was pushing it, but I wasn’t getting the response I needed. I can expand into it anytime I want, but in the meantime, I’ve created standardized sizing that people are a little more accustomed to.” 

It isn’t only shoes she’s acing. Both Fashion Week debuts will include trendsetting men’s jackets, a first for Maison Joan Dominique.

Her willingness to be fearlessly versatile is one of Maison Joan Dominique’s most endearing traits as a blossoming company. An equally beneficial asset is that her creations are distinctly her own.

Warm textures meet crisp, smooth lines, and unexpected buckles and clasps go beyond fashion and into the realm of personal style. They are designed to be an extension of the wearer’s personality, whether that person is classically understated, or boldly en vogue.

Despite her growing success, Joan Dominique speaks with a poise that belies her bright smile and unweathered eyes. 

“I’ve been here in New York since I was 17 years old,” she says. “I’ve wanted to be in fashion design since I was in second grade. When I realized it could be a career, it all clicked. I’ve been pursuing it ever since.”

A graduate of Phoenix Country Day School, she grew up as one of four daughters and was the only among them to follow creative pursuits. Her parents, both in the world of real estate, have been among her biggest supporters.

Joan Dominique set her aspirations high: Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. Widely known as the best institution for design and fashion in the U.S., the school counts icons like Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and Donna Karan among its alumni.

“I did my research and realized I needed a background in art, so I delved into painting and drawing. I consider myself an oil and multimedia artist, but I’ve also expanded myself into photography.”

Her acceptance into the school, which only approves about 34 percent of all of its applicants—40 percent of whom are aspiring international students—was more than luck.

“When I applied to Parsons, I created a portfolio of oil paintings and mixed media, and I designed napkins that I painted with coffee. It was a fun process, and it showed them that I have the creativity that they were looking for.”

At Parsons, Joan Dominique received the creative support and inspiration she needed to stand on her own in the cutthroat world of fashion design. She experimented with both men’s and women’s lines of clothing, shoes and accessories, and graduated with a firm grip on her own indelible panache.

After testing the market to decide her next move, Maison Joan Dominique was launched in fall of 2018 as a men’s luxury lifestyle brand. Shoes came first, but next, following what will no doubt be a savvy jacket line, will be a line of accessories, including a line of hats made in collaboration with Cave Creek’s own Eric Watson, owner and curator of the now-world renowned Watson’s Hat Shop.

Phoenix Fashion Week won’t be the only appearance Joan Dominique makes in her hometown this month. She’ll also be attending Celebrity Fight Night, and has donated a personal shopping experience to the fundraising auction that night. As an added bonus, actor Chris Rich will be donning her shoes.

Through it all, she’s remaining hopeful and humble.

“I’m just aiming for people to really get enjoyment out of the things I’m creating,” she said. “I’m passionate about my work and I want to share what I’m doing. That’s the most important aspect of success for me.”

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