ALLISON PARRIS: A BUDDING DESIGNER BLOOMS.
Tall and lean with a thoughtful face, Allison Parris is very much the quintessence of contemporary. The freshman designer carries herself with a rare blend of youthful sophistication that, much like her premier collection, effortlessly engages. She is well spoken and precise in her diction (a quality that I interpret as evidence of her creative mind), and full of fresh ideas. She seems poised.
Thus it’s not hard to imagine how Parris, at only 25, was one of the only newbies to enter the fashion world last season amidst the gloomiest of economic forecasts. So far things have gone well. With business partner Marissa Kim, Parris debuted her premier collection at fashion week last February. She got rave reviews.
Her collection of ready to wear items— including day dresses, cardigans, cocktail numbers and detailed evening wear— is unpretentious yet indulgent. The pieces are ladylike and polished, with whimsical flairs and elegant details that remind me of the 1940’s. So says her website, “The Allison Parris collection is a feminine and sophisticated line that combines luxurious fabrics, contrasting textures and vintage-inspired detail.” True. It’s also eco-friendly, using mostly sustainable, organic and/or repurposed fabric. However its evident that this is secondary, not compromising Parris’s creative vision. I had the opportunity to chat with Parris. Here is the short interview:
SoHo Journal: How long have you been at this?
Parris: This is the first season of ready to wear. I have a business partner, Marissa Kim. She’s a lawyer, she does the business end and I do the designing. We started in September ‘08 and we showed in February fashion week
show. This is the fall ‘09 collection
SJ: How did you get started?
P: When I graduated from FIT my graduating show was produced by one of the guys who does the shows in one of the tents. He used to go backstage ot all the shows. And I’d hang out with them even after I graduated. And then I saw him pretty randomly last season, and he told me that maybe he’d sponsor me if I’d put together a collection. So I did.
SJ: Did you always know this is what you wanted to do?
P: Well, my mom’s an interior designer and my dad’s a photographer so I’ve always worked with colors and design.
SJ: What/who are your day to day inspirations?
P: Inspiration can come from all over the place- I generally try and keep myself focused on a more limited topic that changes out each season (ex: working on spring/summer 2010 right now, inspiration is the Andrews Sisters) but when I get stuck or need a fresh direction, I generally just take a day off and wander around the city. The FIT museum, central park, the library- all great places to start- and where I go from there just depends on how I’m feeling on that particular day.
SJ: Who is your favorite working designer today?
P: John Galliano, no contest. His work for Dior couture is so unbelievable- its shows the heights that fashion could reach when the designer doesn’t have to rein it in for marketability. I would just about die to be able to wear one of those gowns to an event.
SJ: How would you describe your collection?
P: We’re an eco-friendly and socially conscious line, but we’re kind of trying to push that to the background and create a market where eco-friendly is not dictating the design. I think right now when people hear eco-friendly they think granola and hemp. So we’re trying to create a line that’s well designed, high fashion— something that feels good and sweet and happy. It just happens to be eco-friendly.
SJ: What kind of responses have you received thus far?
P: Great!!! I mean, I think it appeals to a wide market. We are already in a couple of stores, and we’re releasing our second collection September 1st.
SJ: How has the recession affected your line?
P: Well, it goes both ways. As far as being a new designer it’s kind of helped us because we were the only emerging designer on the fashion calendar last season. People really started to pay attention a lot. Having a fresh new idea in the middle of a recession kind of pushes you a lot further than it normally would. But at the same time, we cannot find an investor for the life of us. Its one of those things when we’ve got entirely good reviews, we’ve shown in fashion week, we’ve got two collections going. Our company’s grown tremendously. Normally we’d have no trouble expanding, but we can’t find an investor.
For more information about the company, the designer or the line go to www.allisonparris.com.