Last week I received the opportunity to interview Alisha, after she had emailed me when she stumbled across my blog. I hope you all enjoy this interview with her, about how she got into the fashion industry and what its like to be a designer . . .
When did you realise your love for designing? When in Junior High & High School I took clothes apart to see how they were made, and tried to duplicate looks from Harper's Bazaar that I was unable to find in stores by where I lived. I studied at The San Francisco Art Institute, just a small private school which was well known for outspoken avaunt-garde artists like Kelly Finley and the likes. The technical aspect of design I started learning slowly from library book, an was grueling to learn it this way. It took years before I was confident in that area. Later, When I started working for a couture wedding dress designer, I learned more about the fabrics and hand-finishing techniques, etc. I still look into old books to continue to learn techniques, to evolve as a designer.
How did you get into underwear design in particular? During college I worked at Nordstorm Lingerie department, and that is where I was promoted to a Merchandiser position with Cosabella Lingerie. I was doing their displays in all the Northern California department stores, and inventory counts, that kind of stuff. We all had to train in measuring people for bra fittings, and even today I design most dresses to fit like the lingerie does.
While doing my research into your designs, I stumbled across your blog. Talk me through what type of blog it is? And how has this helped inspire and/or shape your career? The blog has been fun to maintain & it helps me to share my process & inspiration with others. I'm a big fan of self-publishing & I encourage all young people to share their point of view in life as much as possible. Also, other people refer to the blog for trends & preferences, and plus the blog allows me to tell the story of what goes on behind the scenes, so the people I work with can get credit for what they've contributed to the work.
You have also shown your collection during Fashion Week this year. How was that? I've been showing my ready to wear collections during fashion week almost every season for the past 5 years in NYC. That is generally how long it takes to make an imprint. Occasionally, you hear about the "overnight sensations", but usually it takes longer to establish a brand. So many designers come and go, so I guess that's why. People in the industry & media want to know your solid before they have anything to do with you, and only time will tell if you are going to stay committed to the design work.
Who inspires you? What designers in particular have been your role models? I Love Victor & Rolf, and Alexander McQueen; when I first started out they made me think I could express something intelligent & profound with fashion as a medium. Now I glance at other designer's collections, but I try to take influences from outside of the industry.
What are your plans for the next few years? Can you reveal anything about your next collection? The next few years are about contributing to establish the brand, driving towards wholesale & web sale, and being extremely creative. There's a film collaboration in the works, lots of photo editorials and the Spring 12 collection is going to have a glamour aspect to it.
Ooh, that sounds exciting! And finally, have you got any tips for any aspiring designers? Be true to yourself & your point of view, follow your natural inclination. In fashion education it seems like there's a big push for "the standard" like there's only one way things must be done. But remember to yourself that's just an illusion & things can go a million different ways. You don't have to fight against the status quo, but rather, follow your own vision that drives you.
Great advice! And thanks for the chat, cant wait to see the Spring 2012 collection! But in the meantime, here is some photos of Alisha's current collection . . .