|Pictured: Designer Althea Harper (picture courtesy of Ms. Harper.)
How does a young, aspiring designer like Althea Harper make it from the the University of Cincinnati’s School of Design to showing at New York Fashion Week? By working hard and coming to national attention by competing on Season 6 of the popular ‘Project Runway‘ TV show. Although Althea didn’t win on Project Runway, she won several challenges and guest judge Tommy Hilfiger called her work as “genius”. Seeing her Spring 2012 collection at New York Fashion Week, I could see why Hilfiger and Tim Gunn found her so talented as a designer. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Althea a few questions about her collection and experiences as a young designer following her show last week. I was so excited to learn that she went to the University of Cincinnati, since I grew up there.
Althea was in the Rowenta booth at Lincoln Center showing off their high-end stream irons. It’s a simple, but sometimes overlooked fact, that a good pressing can make a garment hanging in your closet look refreshed. Taking care of your clothes with a simple steaming can extend their life and keep them looking their best. Following is my interview with designer Althea Harper and some pictures of her collection. I look forward to seeing her designs in stores next season. Her collection was really beautiful and I’d love to wear the ivory dress pictured below next spring.
|Pictured: A terrific ivory dress from Althea’s Spring 2012 collection (picture courtesy of Ms. Harper.)
Q. Tell us a little about you Spring Summer show last night? What was the inspiration for the collection?
A. The Spring/Summer 12 collection is definitely one of my favorite collections that I have ever put together. I was inspired by the super-natural but also by fabrication. I wanted the fabrics to be unique and make a statement about the quality of the garments. My silhouettes are always about fit and I wanted the clean lines of those garments to be enhanced through fabrication, and tailoring. The prints were taken from pictures of old film where errors in development were thought to be ghosts, we completely reworked them into unique patterns that reminded me of water.
Q. How did you prepare the garments for the show?
A. I brought my Rowenta Pro-Iron Steam Station with me to my backstage of my show. I love it because it is powerful enough to guarantee a great steam, but also is an iron for the pieces that really need to be pressed. We are also transporting our collection, shoes, rolling racks, etc so the less that we have to carry the better, which is another great quality of the steam station- two for one! I also only trust Rowenta to guarantee the results that I need to make my clothing look flawless for a show.
Q. What fabrics did you use in the collection?
A. I used chiffon, silk, cotton, linen, and a few knits.
Q.)Would you recommend the Project Runway experience to others?
A. I would recommend the experience for young designers that really want to start their own business but need a push. It is a great way to get your name out there, become introduced to some of the top professionals in the fashion industry and possibly win some money to help start your line! I even feel that as a runner up it helped me financially start my business with the various projects, speaking arrangements, and events that you are asked to do from being on the show. You just have to have a strong personality and realize that the sewing/ designing is the easy part- its the drama of living and working together thats hard!
Q. I’ve interviewed other Project Runway contestants who felt the show depicted them at their worst, self deprived and under pressure. Did you feel that way?
A. I would agree yes and no- it definitely shows you at your most tired (least attractive) state, and everyone has stressful or “freak out” moments that they wish the camera wouldn’t pick up (of course those are the ones that always do!). However, I also think that it can show your passion, talent and drive for your craft.
|Pictured: Black Mini Dress with Cream Sleeves from Althea Harper Spring 2012. (picture courtesy of Ms. Harper.)
Q. Can you share some of your favorites with us from your Spring Collection?
A. I LOVE the black mini dress with the cream pleated gauze sleeves, the knit sweater and maxi chiffon dress…but that is just because those are the pieces I have had the chance to wear so far…I really love everything ion the collection!
Q. Finally, what are the staple pieces your recommend for FALL?
A. I would say some great military inspired or slouchy boots that do not have too high a heel or wedge if they do- you can pair them with leggings or jeans and a tee and look effortlessly stylish. I also think a well fit blazer is a great staple- it can make almost any outfit effortlessly chic. An over-sized scarf is a must have as is an over sized sweater or cardigan!
Readers, keep your eyes on Althea Harper as a designer. I think she has a great future ahead of her. If you want to see her runway show from last week’s NYFW, go to her website altheaharper.com