This week, we’re visiting a designer from Project Runway’s Season 3. Alison Kelly is a young soul with a beautiful, mature, vintage-inspired aesthetic. Here’s what she had to say about life lessons learned and her newest projects.
Alison is wearing a dress she designed for Bravo’s A-List Awards, which is also available on her site. Photo courtesy of dahlbyalisonkelly.com.
ModCloth: What have you been doing since the finale?
Alison: I launched my wholesale line, Dahl by Alison Kelly, in September 2006 with an exclusive for Shopbop.com. During production, a factory I was using in Manhattan’s garment district skipped town, having been six months behind on rent, taking with them many of my patterns, fabrics, samples, and production. I lost a lot of money. I was able to ship the collection on time, thanks to my loved ones, and it was okay in the end. Thus, I proceeded to have a nervous breakdown. (I am smiling about it now. I was able to recover, and learned a “valuable lesson,” I’ve been told. Whether it was about trust or simply fate, I still do not know.)
I also created a website where customers can choose a look from my line and have it custom made to fit them. This process has been very fun and rewarding. I also just launched a new product with my boyfriend–Dahl and Dane: True Love Always.
(ModCloth note to readers: Seriously, check it out. Alison and Dane make personalized t-shirts where they’ll fill in the blank: “I heart ___” with whatever you want. How great is that?)
MC: What are the most important things you learned from the show?
Alison: To practice humility. To stand for what I believe in. To take from criticism something constructive and work it out until you find beauty again.
MC: Were there any funny or crazy behind-the-scenes moments that didn’t air in this season’s final cut?
Alison: Oh goodness, with four hours of sleep each night and working around the clock, I believe we were going a bit nutty. You probably had to be there in the muck and mire to think these scenarios were at all humorous. Maybe they’re on the DVD…
MC: How would you describe your personal style?
Alison: Fickle, yet faithful to an abiding silhouette…I’m wrapped up in a lifetime of custom-fit clothing, so much that it has become a second nature. What is modish to me is something I’ve designed that slips on and makes me feel puissant, because it is comfortable and aesthetically-pleasing to my eye in a subdued sort of manner. It doesn’t look or feel too new yet. It is not dated or too ironic.
MC: Who are some of your favorite designers?
Alison: Ann Demeulemeester, Malene Birger, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Miuccia Prada, Alexander McQueen, and Alber Elbaz.
MC: How is designing jewelry different than designing clothing?
Alison: It is all in the medium. The process of getting your hands dirty, cut up, filed on, scraped and scratched so you’re bleeding to make a beautiful piece of art that you can wear is the wonder and magic of making jewelry form. It becomes an addiction. You feel like an alchemist! But it is self-expression. It is sociable; people want to talk about it, and the same reaction comes from clothing as well. Your blood, sweat, and tears go into these processes; that is what makes them similar and absolutely rewarding mediums.
MC: Have you been working more on jewelry or clothing lately?
MC: Where can we find your pieces?
Alison: dahlbyalisonkelly.com. TG-170 in the Lower East Side, Thistle & Clover in Brooklyn, Pinky in Cleveland, and ALTER in Brooklyn.
More of Alison’s designs. Photos courtesy of dahlbyalisonkelly.com.
MC: Who are your favorite designers from this season of Project Runway?
Alison: Leanne and Jerell are my top two.
MC: What are your future plans?
Alison: To continue designing my line. I am very excited for AW 09-10. I want to make knitwear and design my own fabric.
(ModCloth note to readers: AW 09-10 is a fabric show held in New York, Paris, Moscow, Shanghai, and Tokyo.)
Next Week: Kara Janx from Season 2.