Flatter Your Body With Figure Friendly Designs: Exclusive Interview with Althea Harper

During Fall 2010 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, we were lucky enough to send our beautiful contributor Avantika (The Beauty Buff) to the Althea Harper Fall collection. Although editor Bailey was crushed to not be able to attend, she was thrilled to be able to exclusively interview the lovely Althea on the phone (and realize that she is even sweeter than you would imagine. Yes, it’s possible!)

1.How did you get inspiration for this collection? Does it just come to mind or do you research ideas…?

“I was inspired by the Futures in Art movement. I definitely seek inspiration out (because I need to find inspiration that will keep me interested, because it takes a lot of time and effort to develop a line, and I need to stay inspired that entire time). I was at a bookstore with my fiancee, and came across Futures In Art Movement. I was not only inspired by the shapes of the paintings, the architecture, and the colors…but I was also by what it was about. [The idea of] going against things in their past and creating a new future for themselves. I can really relate to that as a new designer, because I don’t really know what the future is. So, I was inspired not just on a visual basis, but also by the meaning behind it.

I love the idea of taking severe shapes from the paintings and placing them around the body. I love clothes that are tailored to a woman’ figure (accentuating different areas like her waist or hips). I don’t want everyone to look like a stick figure, of course- I love to celebrate the female figure!

The makeup is extremely important to with a collection. I wanted them to look like sensitile robots (for the makeup to be very universal). I was really happy with the makeup though, because often when makeup is dark and severe, it doesn’t look pretty. In this case, they all looked the same (with a dark eye and dark lip) but still beautiful. I want everything to be wearable in my collection [from the makeup, to the clothing]. I design in the hopes that I can wear every item in my collection, and so can my friends…everyone should be able to wear it.”

2.What do you think has changed the most about your design aesthetic now, as compared to what we saw on Project Runway?

“I think it’s a different creative environment [as a whole]. I came from Project Runway straight from college, so it was a complete learning experience. I was still finding myself as a designer, but in college, professors don’t critique your work as openly. Having people who would actually wear my clothing give me feedback, helped me grow as a designer.

I wasn’t 100% confident at the time (it’s so hard to go straight from school, to having millions of people seeing your work), but I can say that I left Project Runway as a completely different designer. At the time, we weren’t even sure if our season would air [because of the network dispute between Bravo and Lifetime], so I just looked at it as a chance to learn and have my work critiqued.

With this collection, my confidence level was so different. I’d like to consider myself a contemporary sportswear designer, so I hope that my looks have matured [since the show].”

4. If you are running out to the grocery store, what do you wear? What’s your advice for staying comfortable, but not looking like a mess?

“I have been a big advocate for leggings. They are so comfortable, and you can just throw them on with comfortable boots (or cute shoes with some style) and a sweater, and you’ll look great! Even if you just wear them with a simple T-shirt, a scarf and a cute handbag…you will be so comfortable. Just add some great accessories, and it can’t get more comfortable then that!”

Credit: © Thomas Kletecka

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