[playlist] Style Soundz: Your 2012 Boston Fashion Week Mixtape

Fashion and music have always been intrinsically linked. Jagger to Jackson, Frank Sinatra to Frank Ocean, music icons have long shaped the styles of the times . . . and, often, vice versa. Punk, metal, disco: these eras' fashion statements drove the conversation as much as the music. So with Boston Fashion Week kicking off on September 27, we asked the 10 designers prepping for solo shows in the Tent to let us take a listen to the albums and tracks that helped inspire their collections. Some of what you hear might surprise you. Check out the Spotify playlist.

Luke Aaron
Luke, whose designs can be found in his North End boutique on Fleet Street, cites movies from "the Golden Age of Hollywood" as a major inspiration. It's no surprise, then, that his past collections have been marked by classic lines and signature touches that echo that old-world, retro aesthetic. As for his latest? "For the spring/summer collection, I wanted the mood to feel both ethereal and grounded. The look is soft and romantic, but with an edge," he says. "These songs capture that otherworldly quality with echoed, atmospheric elements alongside driving, rhythmic baselines. There's a mixture of sexy jazz sounds and dream-pop with synth strings and bells."

1. The Amalgamation of Soundz, "Enchant Me"
2. Ivy, "I Think of You"
3. Morcheeba, "I Am the Spring"

Karina Bresnahan of Karina Bresnahan Swimwear
A recent graduate of Boston's School of Fashion Design, Karina brings a youthful vitality and fresh perspective to her resort swimwear. While "resort wear" can easily cross over into kitschy or, worse, costume territory, Karina's suits - designed to flatter the physiques and styles of many different women - balance the glamour of luxe resortwear with a playful edge. The tracks that drove her new collection reflect that fun, on-trend vibe. Check it out.

1. Ellie Goulding, "Lights"
2. Goldfrapp, "Strict Machine"
3. Alex Clare, "Too Close"

Mark Cordell of Tru Fiction
Out of all the collections showing at the Tent this year, Mark's line for Tru Fiction might prove to be the most stylistically adventurous. Given to an edgy, slightly dark aesthetic, Mark's designs are best suited for the fashion-forward urbanite. He says, "There are so many songs that I listen to when I'm designing a collection. Music is one of my biggest inspirations." It seems apt that most of Mark's picks were more obscure remixes of popular songs; he's constantly riffing on classic styles and trends and adding his own personal spin.

1. Frank Ocean, "Pyramids"
2. Santigold, "You'll Find a Way (Switch & Sinden Remix)"
3. Robyn, "Dancing on My Own (Fred Falke Remix)"
4. Marina and the Diamonds, "Shampain (Fred Falkes Remix)"

Victoria Dominguez-Bagu of Mariavictoria
While Uruguay-born, School of Fashion Design-trained Victoria designs print-driven, wearable clothing for the modern woman on the go, it's nostalgia-invoking music that inspired this collection. Of "Via Con Me," she says, "This song just transports me to the European summer that inspired my latest collection. It just screams summer to me." She adds, " ‘Viva la Mamma' is actually a song that I used to hear on the radio when I was really young. It brings back summer memories."

1. Paolo Conte, "Via Con Me"
2. Edoardo Bennato, "Viva la Mamma"
3. Kevin Johansen, "Hindue Blues"

Grace Kim of g. K I M studio
The only designer showing in the Tent this year who isn't based here in Boston, California's Grace says retro hip-hop beats provided much of the creative power for both this and past collections. "I always listen to old-school hip hop when I design," she says. "It gets my blood pumping and design juices flowing." This collection's aesthetic was inspired in large part by feminine, girlish things like parasols and ballerinas, which might seem to belie the strong tracks that provided her soundtrack. But g. KIM studio's designs are marked by classic lines shaken up by modern, edgy accents. Of her love of old-school rap, Grace adds, "It's also my natural caffeine on nights when I stay up late working."

1. Paul Oakenfold, "Starry Eyed Surprise"
2. Black Eyed Peas, "Imma Be (Danger Olympic Remix)"
3. Naughty By Nature, "Hip Hop Hooray"

Sam Mendoza of Mendoza
"It's the beat, the voice, the lyrics, and mostly the overall mood a song creates. It has to be evocative," Sam says of the music that soundtracks his collection. Frank Ocean, in particular, played a large part in his recent designs. "Beyond being some of the best music out, Frank Ocean is that 'bingo' moment when a great song, an amazing artist, and the right context come together and a track starts to represent a collection for me in my head," he says. "But the funny part is that I'm not sure I'll even play Frank for the runway. It's more about how it fits in the creative process. And it might be too obvious now. I like surprising people." So what does he have in store for the runway? Expect tracks that are "rhythmic, sexy, and moody." We think he summed it up best when he said, " ‘Baby-making music' is what I'm calling it."

1. P.M. Dawn, "Paper Dolls"
2. Janet Jackson, "Anytime, Anyplace"
3. Grimes, "Genesis"
4. Frank Ocean, "Thinkin Bout You"
5. Lauryn Hill/D'Angelo, "Nothing Even Matters"

Emily Muller
A former student of Boston Architecture College, Emily's background is clearly reflected in her designs, defined by unique silhouettes, refined structure, and pointedly chosen fabrics. Emily's knack for construction and eye for signature style is evident in her aesthetic: feminine, whimsical accents tempered with strong lines and hardware. Her latest collection, she says, has something of an oceanic theme, which is reflected in the music she listened to while designing it. "They all have a drama and seriousness while still having a vast wind-swept expanse kind of feeling," she says.

1. AWOLNation, "Sail"
2. Fanfarlo, "I'm a Pilot"
3. Radical Face, "Welcome Home"

Avni Trivedi of Avni Fashion
Currently balancing the tricky business of launching a new collection and getting the handle of new motherhood, Avni designs for environmentally conscious fashionistas. The good-for-the-soul, calming music that inspired her new collection harmonizes with her sustainable designs, which are created from naturally dyed, hand-made fabrics she gets from artisans in India.  "Our SS'13 concept is called ‘Mahari,' who were powerful priestesses in East India during ancient times," Avni says. "I imagined a powerful cult of great women who can control their natural impulses, their five senses, and submit themselves completely to their God. In order to create this collection, I started listening to a lot of simple chanting combined with powerful drums, as well as Indian classical music. I wanted to imagine the purity, power, and spirituality that was the essence of the Mahari cult."

1. Tyler Bates, "Gypsy Thief"
2. Hariprasad Chaurasia, "Delta"
3. Dharma Mittra, "Om Chants"

Candice Wu of Candice Wu Couture
Another School of Fashion Design graduate, Candice's heritage is very much honored in her designs. Mixing old world and new, the Hong Kong-born, United States-bred designer's looks reflect aesthetics both classic and modern. Candice creates ready-to-wear clothing and elegant eveningwear, both marked by sleek lines and edgy accents. She says she listened to Era's "Enae Volare Mezzo" quite a bit; its "edgy and gothic feel" provided strong inspiration for her latest collection.

1. Era, "Enae Volare Mezzo"
2. Lady Gaga, "Bloody Mary"

Firas Yousif of Firas Yousif Originals
The most specialized of this year's crop of designers, Firas sells his finely constructed couture bridal wear out of his Newbury Street boutique. His gowns are designed with an eye for enduring elegance, an ideal that is consistent with the music that powered his new collection. "Anything operatic gets me every time when creating my bridal collections," he says. "It transcends me to a place of creativity and timeless beauty." But Firas's aesthetic is not without a modern edge, which he finds in the electronic music that bolsters his spirit while designing. Of Yana Kay's album, he says, "I've listened to this double CD a bazillion times. She's big in Eastern Europe, but new to the US. Check out her track ‘Eyes of a Perfect Stranger.' It's my electronic fix - the whole CD pumps me up and gets my creative juices flowing." Firas is no doubt going for the gold with this new collection. "I think this was a past Olympic theme song or something," he says of the Linda Eder track. "This is how I slow things way down and get caught up in a little healthy drama. This track is dripping with it." (Pre-show hint: "One of my favorite evening gowns, which will be debuted at the Tent, was inspired by this song.")

1. Yana Kay (Deeselecta), Magnetic
2. Linda Eder, "Gold"
3.  Assorted Artists (EMI Classics), The Most Famous Opera Arias

 For tickets ($30) to shows at the Tent, visit

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