When Rachel Frank thinks of what to wear each morning, the words “something simple” never cross her mind.

That would never go with her green and purple hair or her dashingly fun personality.

Even as a child growing up in Baraboo, Barbie couldn’t have boring outfits from the store. She had to have something edgy. So Frank would cut and create, singing songs like a commercial: “Gymnastic Barbie, her bag turns into a skirt.”

Frank has turned that childhood passion for something different into a clothing design career that’s taken her to Chicago, where she owns her own company.

“I’ve always kind of viewed my clothes as costumes as opposed to fashion, so it’s kind of like having a character come alive,” she said.

Frank’s designs will come to life Sunday during the Summerset Festival of the Arts in Baraboo, where she will hold a fashion show that will pay homage to Steampunk, a science-fiction genre inspired by steam power from the 19th century.

“There will be tops and skirts all very detailed - nothing simple, of course,” she said.

The look will incorporate another passion of Frank’s — jewelry. When she designs, she goes far beyond the cloth, taking into account every detail — from makeup to a necklace that’s fixed with gears from old clocks.

“Before I even started doing Steampunk clothing I started doing Steampunk jewelry because I found 300 skeleton keys in my grandfather’s basement,” she said. “I thought they were really amazing, so I started making necklaces.”

To find parts, Frank found herself rummaging through antique shops and garage sales, trying to find old clocks for gear parts. Gears are a big part of the Steampunk look.

To capture the era, imagine future technology in the age of steam engines. Kind of like Jules Verne meets the inside of a clock.

“When I started doing (the pieces) someone said, ‘It’s very Steampunk.’ And I didn’t even know what that was. But that opened me up to the genre,” she said.

While her career path was fashion, Frank said during a lot of her youth she thought she wanted to be a singer. But by the time she entered high school, the way she dressed and worked with clothing became more than a fashion statement or a trend.

“My mom always said when I was in high school I dressed much older than my age,” Frank said.

She was always wearing dresses, and says she only has one pair of pants. “Everyone always asked me, ‘Where are you going?’ I always looked very overdressed, even in high school.”

Her design inspiration blossomed during this period when she saw the work of famed designer Alexander McQueen. She now has McQueen Mondays at her work. Big extravagant garments, accessories, they all became part of her life.

After graduating Baraboo in 2004, Frank found herself attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to study fashion. She also worked at a Chicago fashion incubator at Macy’s working on a clothing line.

“I tried to do ready-to-wear clothing that you buy off the rack. But I realized that’s not my calling, trying to design something with the least amount of fabric at the lowest price to sell for the most,” she said.

This past year, Frank opened her own business, RFD by Rachel Frank, where she can spend more time on the details. And the details, she said, are everything.

Simple clothes were not for her. A self-proclaimed fabric snob, Frank needs texture, pleats and fabric. Lot of fabric — silk, leather and lace.

“That’s how my mind works — lots of details,” she said.

After hours of sketching and creating each part of a look, Frank said the first time seeing it on a model is a different experience, an awesome one.

“Usually when I’m designing clothing, I’ve always kind of thought of myself as an accessory designer because my garments are made up of a lot of pieces,” she said.

“So even when I’m designing the initial garment I will design jewelry (to go with).”

Her days in Chicago are not all spent on design. During the day she walks dogs for a few hours before heading back to the studio to fill orders.

“I do lots of custom, one-of-a-kind pieces,” she said. “I’m currently working on bridesmaid dresses.”

But her dream may not come to fruition in Chicago. Frank is looking toward a bigger canvas to create her art — movies.

“I belong in L.A.” she said. “I want to be a costume designer for film. That’s my absolute goal in life. I love to design in the likes of ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Very intense fantasy, or sci-fi.”

One of her favorite films for costumes of late was “The Hunger Games,” which incorporated a McQueen style. While she loved that film for the style, there are other movies she wishes she could help on.

“I look at that stuff and I really do feel all of what I do is about a character,” she said. “There’s so many films I look at that I could have done so much better. Give me a script and I will show you what that’s about.”

She also is inspired by nature, having used trees as her source of inspiration for dresses. She even made a hat out of deer antlers and a raccoon skull with a compass for an eye.

“Even in my early years I have never, ever been simple,” she said. “I actually have a very hard time designing simple.”

If You Go:

What: Rachel Frank fashion show at Summerset Festival of the Arts.

When: 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: R.G. Brown Theatre, UW-Baraboo campus.

Cost: Festival tickets run $5-$7 for each day. Events run through Sunday.

Web: Go to rfdbyrachelfrank.com to check out her work.

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(9) comments


Indeed, some people find very difficult to choose an outfit to wear it all day. But, first of all people should buy decent, quality clothes which look good on them and to make them feel attractive. Men and women can resort to a custom tailor to create their own fashion style, a lovely one, which will definitely represent their personality.


A person should wear every day something simple, but elegant. Also, she should personalize her outfits as much as possible with some handmade leather belts or lovely scarfs. These kind of touches make her unique and also make her stand out of a crowd.


Rachel Frank is an example of devotion and love for everything related to fashion, trends and fabrics. She is an inspiration for all of us and her new collection is extremely original and inspired, ideal for teenagers, and like the custom screen printed t shirts, it was a blast. Anyway, nobody expected anything else from her, especially because she always makes exquisite choices and her green and purple hair illustrates her free spirit very well.

Gregory Barnes
Gregory Barnes

She is definitely one of those adventurous women who love to experiment with their looks. Christmas is coming, so now all women would be making beeline for the nearest shopping malls. If you are too busy to go for shopping then you should consider opting for online shopping. You can purchase designer handbags online in an instant.


It is an unique fashion statement, but these clothing items can not be worn everywhere. Instead, someone will look amazing at a special occasion. With these outfits and the best comfortable lingerie from the Uni Hosiery, anyone is set for success, but she should know when to wear them to impress others.


If you ever wondered what's changing rapidly these days, that would be the fashion trends. This new style approach is by far the best example. Those who are bold enough to wear such clothes should add a pair of Dr Martens shoes. You'll definitely find the perfect pair to match your fashion style.

Timothy Townsend
Timothy Townsend

This girl loves fashion and knows how to innovate, so she has a great chance of having a rocking career in the fashion industry. However, those who love to wear such edgy clothes, should consider wearing the right accessories too like personalized leather belts which will never go out of fashion.

Gregory Barnes
Gregory Barnes

She would sure be one of the most popular designer in future, she has a lot of funky ideas and she really understands fashion. However, she should now start offering her creations online, it would help her reach out to a large number of shoppers. Most women buy their clothing and jewelry online now. If you want to buy swarovski drop earrings, you can find these at www.dabbyreid.com.

Timothy Townsend
Timothy Townsend

This woman has lots of spark in her and it shows in her designs, she loves creating vibrant and edgy clothing for the people. She should now start selling these clothes online. Now along with clothing, accessories, one can also find industrial items like thermal transfer ribbons online.

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