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Emily Brady Koplar

An early morning visit to Steel Wheels

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

Early Thursday morning I walked over to check out the new Steel Wheels Indoor Cycling, which Bob Koplar of Koplar Properties just opened at 229 N. Euclid between Maryland Ave. and Lindell Blvd.

For some reason I have never really taken to indoor cycling, but that changed yesterday after 45 minutes biking through the streets of London accompanied by music and occasional videos from the Beatles.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

Steel Wheels is a hi-tech operation. Signing up for a class, and then choosing which of 40 bikes you want to ride, is done online in advance (though if you arrive early enough, it’s possible to sign-up on the spot for a class, depending on availability of bikes). Early-bird staffers Erica and Nick, above, walked me through the check-in process, which is simply signing in on iPad screens in the sleek, handsome lobby.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

Extensive renovation of the 4500 s.f. space, formerly occupied by Regency Stamps, included the creation of an amphitheater that slopes to a giant HD projection screen. Each day of the week the classes will take you to different parts of the world mixed with music videos to keep the experience both interesting and fun. View the schedule here for more information.

The bikes, equipped with monitors to record how you’re doing, require special shoes, which are provided. “Look Delta” and “SPD” cleats are two brands that are compatible with the pedals on Steel Wheel’s bikes.

 

Monitors display the names of each rider so you can see how you’re doing compared to the other riders. When I saw my name on the screen, I immediately asked if it could be removed. I was there for the fun, not to compete. Nick, right, is shown helping Stephanie, the instructor, take my info off the monitor.

It’s important to note that Steel Wheels welcomes all riders, from racers to novices. “Intensity is up to the individual rider…if you want to coast, coast away. If you want to compete, ride to win.” I was definitely in the “coast” category, and happily kept up with the ride at my own pace. After the class, you’ll get an email listing your stats, including how far you rode (8 miles!), the pace, etc.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

Everything about the design of Steel Wheels is well considered, starting with the choice of colors. The locker room area has complementary fruit waters, fresh fruit, and a water bottle refill station. There are changing rooms,  3 bathrooms, one with a shower, and glass jars filled with complementary hair clips and ear plugs, in case you want to ride in silence. This is also where you change into your biking shoes and pick up a towel for the ride.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

Bob Koplar’s wife, fashion designer Emily Brady Koplar, designed all of the Steel Wheels apparel displayed above, which is color-coordinated with the shop’s interior. Nicki's Central West End Guide Services Shop News  Steel Wheels St. Louis MO Koplar Properties Emily Brady Koplar Central West End Bob Koplar

The flyer shows different membership levels at Steel Wheels. The Intro Ride of $12 is not clear in the photo, but it’s a great way to check it out. There is also a Founder’s Membership limited-time special of $99 per month, which includes unlimited rides and other perks, shown above. Parking is available in the Argyle Garage (Schlafly Branch Library). It’s free with membership.

Steel Wheels, 229 N. Euclid, (314) 345-1001. For more information, stop in or visit the website.

A visit to PINNED! A Designer Chess Challenge

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

If you are into fashion and haven’t as yet visited Pinned! A Designer Chess Challenge at the World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Ave., you’re in for a big treat.  The exhibition opened on October 6 (when these photographs were taken) and closes March 25.

The $10,000 design challenge was created in partnership with the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, located at 1533 Washington Ave.  The challenge for each member of Saint Louis Fashion Incubator’s inaugural class—Agnes Hamerlik, Emily Brady Koplar, Allison Mitchell, Audra Noyes, Charles Smith II, and Reuben Reuel—who was paired with a Grandmaster from World Chess Hall of Fame, was to create an ensemble for today’s chess player. It had never occurred to me that dress codes for professional chess players were a topic of conversation, until I read Macauley Peterson’s article in Chess News.

Each class member’s work is shown on the 2nd floor of the World Chess Hall of Fame. The winner of a $10,000 prize was Audra Noyes, who was paired with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, for the gorgeous dress shown in the photo above. More of Noyes’ designs are shown in the photo below.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

For the challenge, each designer was asked to complete 2 designs, one for a chess player and the other more avant-garde.

Audra Noyes exceedingly charming illustrations and poetry are shown above.Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

Seeing what St. Louisan Emily Brady Koplar created, above, it’s not surprising that she won the People’s Choice Award. She was paired with Women’s Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade. Learn more about the designer on a blog post here, and about her successful career on the Fashion Incubator’s website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

Brooklyn native Reuben Reuel designed the imaginative fashions shown above. Read more about Reuel on the Incubator’s website here. (A couple of neighborhood friends have been spotted looking absolutely smashing while wearing Reuel’s custom-made dresses made of his signature African cloth, example far right).

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

Allison Mitchell, a Dallas native, was working in digital marketing when she made her first handbag that everyone wanted. Her success led her to St. Louis to further her career while participating in the Fashion Incubator. You’ll enjoy her story here.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Shop News  World Chess Hall of Fame Women's Grandmaster Jennifer Shahade Saint Louis Fashion Incubator Reuben Reuel Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Emily Brady Koplar Audra Noyes Allison Mitchell Agnes Hamerlik

Chicago-native Agnes Hamerlik, whose dramatic creation is shown above, was paired with Grandmaster Alejandro Ramerez. Hamerlik followed a more traditional couture path, which you can read about on the website.

The video takes you behind-the-scenes as the designers describe their creations for the PINNED! challenge, followed by the moment when the judges’ winner was announced.

World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland Ave., suggested donation $3 per person, $5 per family.  Mon.-Tues. 10 to 5, Weds.-Fri. 10 to 9, Sat. 10 to 5, Sun. 12 to 5.

Saint Louis Fashion Incubator, 1533 Washington Ave., is open to the public Saturday, February 7, from 10 to 4 for a day of shopping the designers’ collections.

Meet designer Emily Brady Koplar

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Shop News  Wei Ming Voltron MICDS Ivy Hill Emily Brady Koplar

Emily Wai Ming Brady (Koplar) was interested in clothing starting at a very young age and would sketch outfits she would like to wear. She was encouraged by her parents with the gift of her first sewing machine at age 11. She wore the free-spirited clothing she made to a Kirkwood grade school, but when she transferred to MICDS—with its stricter dress code—her designs were saved for proms and working on costumes for school plays.  Her artistic family includes an Irish father who plays the piano, and a Chinese mother who Emily says has the vision in the family. Both encouraged Emily and her brother, an artist who works for Amazon in Seattle, in their artistic endeavors.

While this is a post about Emily, I imagine you’re curious about her connection to the Koplars, a family that has been prominent in the Central West End for four generations. Emily has been married for three years to Bob Koplar, a lawyer who is working on the successful relaunch of the family’s Voltron property,  a TV series that originally aired in syndication in the mid-1980s.

While clothing design was her passion, practical Emily majored in Economics at Boston University where she also took classes in costume production. After graduation she earned an AAS degree from Parsons School of Design in New York.  She then became a designer for The May Company’s private Valerie Stevens label, and then worked for Aeropostale. Last year Emily started her own clothing design company under the label, “Wai Ming,” which is her middle name, meaning “gift of light.”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Handmade Shop News  Wei Ming Voltron MICDS Ivy Hill Emily Brady Koplar

Emily creates her designs in a home studio. She hires professionals for pattern and sample-making and uses interns from WU’s Sam Fox School of Design to help with computer sketching, packing, and other odds and ends. She uses novelty fabrics from Italy, and silks from Japan. The pattern in the silk blouse that Emily wore the day we met at Ivy Hill in the CWE, and in the dress shown above, is her own design. It takes a full year from fabric selection to shipment of finished product to the stores, so this young designer is always working in a different season. When we met she was about to ship the Spring line, but was working on her collection for the Fall season.  Emily travels to New York at least twice a month to oversee the production of her clothing in the Garment District.

Hillary Dutcher, the proprietress of Ivy Hill, told me she has done very well with the Wai Ming line. Pieces from the 2012 Spring collection arrived at the neighborhood boutique last week. Pleated skirts are $140 to $180, blouses and tops, $130 to $150, dresses are $300 to $400. For now Emily is content selling to smaller venues, as she gets immediate feedback from their customers. While I don’t want to guide you out of the neighborhood to shop, you can also find pieces of Wai Ming’s Spring collection at Cha and Esther in St. Louis, Thread in Columbus, Ohio, and Roslyn in Chicago. Her lined was recently picked up by Searle in New York, and Thistle & Clover in Brooklyn.

It was great fun for me to talk to Emily last month and get an advance peek at her Spring collection. The world of fashion is such a tough business to break into, and I greatly admire this talented St. Louisan for following her passion and making a success of it. For more information, or to get on Wai Ming’s mailing list, contact Emily at: info@waimingstudio.com.