High-Fashion Dreaming: 22-year-old Caldwell Native Builds Love Homage Brand 

"I used to wear the craziest outfits and people would give me the wildest looks. I felt empowered."

There's nothing more American than following your childhood dream. But in order to go from 0 to 60, an entrepreneur has to learn to go with their gut, be resilient and maintain the grit to keep going. Savannah Culp, designer and founder of the clothing line Love Homage, has been working on doing just that. From an early age, the 22-year-old knew fashion was her calling, and her focus has never wavered.

"I really fell in love with fashion through thrifting with my mom," said Culp. "I started collecting vintage hard-core in high school, and it was a way I defined my style and my identity. I used to wear the craziest outfits and people would give me the wildest looks. I felt empowered. It was in that moment [that] I realized why people want to be designers: They want to make people feel something; they want people to feel good."

Growing up in Caldwell, Culp didn't have much access to the fashion industry, so she kept up to speed with fashion magazines, and TV shows like Project Runway and The Hills. She learned how to sew from her grandmother when she was involved in 4-H. Having developed a love for the industry early on, she began applying to fashion schools well before she reached adulthood.

"I applied for FIDM [the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising] in San Francisco when I was like 10 or 12," said Culp. "They called me and I had to tell them how old I was and they said, 'Uhm, you're not even old enough to do the high school camp. But, keep trying.' They didn't even know what to say to me because they'd never had someone so young do that. My aunts live there and I would go down there and we would visit every year."

When Culp turned 18, she moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University to study studio art and art history. Living in Chinatown, she found a love for painting. Every night when she got back to her apartment, she would roll out a canvas and get to work.

"I got into painting and marbling shirts," said Culp. "It dawned on me that I should start painting fabric just like I would a canvas. When I stretched my first piece of fabric and painted it, I was like, 'Oh my god, that's going to be Love Homage.'"

The name Love Homage had been spinning through Culp's mind for a while, and after that first painting on fabric grounded the idea she knew she would create a fashion line under it. The name is inspired by the idea of paying homage to times in her life that she thinks of fondly.

"It's about my love of the world. It also came from my love of collecting trinkets and holding onto them forever, even though they only have sentimental value," said Culp. "Whether it's a ticket to a museum, a receipt or a little trinket from Chinatown—no matter how small or inferior it is. I'm a very sentimental, nostalgic person."

Culp moved back to Boise two years ago and dove headfirst into starting her own brand. She got a job and pooled her resources to create her first collection. The first piece she made was a denim railroad-stripe coat with a high collar, sherpa lining and metal fasteners.

"It took me months to make that," she said. "It was definitely not a piece to create for someone's first foray into sewing after not having done it for a while."

Designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Coco Chanel are inspirations for Culp. She also admires Brock Collection, a label by husband-wife duo Kristopher and Vassar Brock that offers vintage-inspired pieces combining ruffles, pleats and lace with floral patterns. Culp's goal is to take her label from ready-to-wear to her own couture house. The artistry and craftsmanship in couture garments is what she wants to harness for her own label.

"I love couture and what it represents," said Culp. "You're really making, like, living art in a way. I would love for everything to be made in-house: the fabric, the paint, the brushes, everything. Super old-school, like Renoir. He made everything."

Love Homage is still in its early stages, but Culp is determined to forge ahead. With her eye for design and with her art background, she feels she has the tools she needs to push herself forward. Though Idaho isn't a fashion capital, she's proud of her roots and won't let geography hold her back.

"I come from a really small town and I feel really proud of myself and how far I've come," said Culp. "I really challenged myself when I moved to San Francisco, and when I started my brand. I'm creating this life by my own means, and no one can take anything from me. I'd go broke over and over again just to keep my dream alive."

The pieces from Culp's first collection can be found online. She also fulfills custom orders for people who want personal, one-of-a-kind garments.

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