“She’s extremely talented. She’s going to blow people away” predicted Tim Gunn some time ago when talking about Project Runway finalist Althea Harper. And at this point, it’s no longer a prediction: Althea is steadily making a name for herself and receives nothing but positive feedback on her SS11 collection. Since we focus on up and coming talents in the fashion industry, it comes as no surprise that BTB had a little chat with the talented Althea.
“I was always really into art, even at a young age” said Althea Harper when we asked about her passion for fashion design, “and I realized that I love drawing people and especially the clothes that I would have them wear. However, I also really loved business, math, etc.. and I think that fashion being such a combination of the two really made me realize that it was the career for me.”
How do you feel you’ve developed as a designer after Project Runway, did your participation change your views on the fashion industry?
“ -I came on Project Runway straight from school and so being on a show with other professionals who had been in the industry for a while helped me mature as did getting feedback from all these amazing people who’s opinions I really respected. I don’t think these things really changed my perception on the fashion industry- rather how I wanted to carry myself as a designer.”
You started out your professional career designing for Tory Burch, how do you put that experience up against years of school? Learning wise.
“-Working in the industry is a completely different experience then what you learn in school. In school you learn the basics and then when you work you learn how to apply them to your field. However, I had six different internships while I was in school so I also learned a lot about actually working in the field there as well. I would say, however, that the most I have learned has been from managing my own line.”
How does Althea Harper start off the design process, have you always got an idea of what your going to do, or do you spend time gathering inspiration and then let ideas come?
“ -The concept is so important to me so I spend time a lot of time researching the perfect inspiration that will carry me with lots of ideas for the collection.”
You have mentioned in other interviews that you were inspired by sound waves when creating the SS11, could you explain?
“-I was inspired by sound waves for Spring 2011- the shapes they make and how they symbolize our communication to one another. The prints were designed by the sound waves and then contoured onto the body to enhance the female form through both cut and print. The goal was to create a statement for a woman- through the shapes of sound, to communicate to the world without even saying a word.”
The SS11 collection is described as minimalistic, elegant, feminine, and in easily-wearable tones. Have you always got a specific target group for your designs? - A certain group of women?
“-I design for confident women and for women who know that they can have it all. They can be feminine and powerful, sexy and chic.”
It has been mentioned that the detailed knitwear in your designs might be one of the most unique aspects of your work, has knitwear always been a big part of your designs?
“ -No actually, I did one big knitwear project in college and them some pieces for my Project Runway collection. When Tim came to see my work in my studio in Dayton he had such a strong response to my knits that I thought I should work with it more.”
And finally, how do you feel about the reactions after your SS11 preview show? We’ve heard only good things :)
“-I have been so pleased with the response for Spring 11. It is great that not only do people love it but they understand it and the message that I giving with the collection, as an artist that is equally important to peoples reactions!”