You may remember Alison “Dahl” Kelly from Season 3 of Bravo’s hit television show (and perennial Storque favorite), Project Runway. Today the woman behind Dahl by Alison Kelly recounts her experiences as an up-and-coming designer, gives the dish behind Project Runway (and tips on getting your designs out there), and gives her expert take on this season’s hot fashions. Alison will not disappoint!
I’ve always had an interest in clothing, seeing that my mother made matching outfits for my sister, me and our dolls when we were little. I made my own 25-minute outfits (literally: I’d rise 30 minutes before I had to leave for school and make something) throughout high school — primarily dresses that were tied shut by piercing holes with the scissors’ tips into the fabric and lacing it onto my body, and countless elastic-waist hippie skirts à la Stevie Nicks.
It wasn’t until my second year of college that I began to take a serious interest in fashion design. I had grown eager to learn how to drape and make proper patterns to obtain a custom fit. I moved to Florence, Italy, and enrolled in an intensive fashion program at the Lorenzo de’Medici Scuola d’Arte and became thoroughly immersed.
After college I began toting around my mini-collections of one-off dresses to shops in Los Angeles. I’d walk in wearing one of them, and as luck would have it, the shop girl would normally ask about it — so I kept about 10 more in the car to show them! Matrushka Construction on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake was one of the first shops to pick up my first line, Run R1ot (the “1” symbolizing one-offs), on consignment.
I moved to New York city in the winter of 2006, feeling that it was time for a change of scenery. My sister came with, as she wanted to move back east from San Francisco. My plan was simple: to launch a new line. But how was I going to do that? I did not know.
My mother and sister urged me to try out for Project Runway; conveniently, auditions were taking place as we were apartment and job hunting. I hadn’t had a television in my house since high school, and reality TV wasn’t even a part of my vocabulary (nor my psyche) — it was a joke to me. However, I had noticed the rise of some of PR’s past contestants, so I put my morals aside and auditioned with one goal: exposure for my line.
One thing led to another, and before long I was filming the show — which was like being in jail while being overworked, underfed and sleep deprived. I would literally wake up to boom mics leering over me with film crews next to my bed — does that sound conducive to creativity? However, I harbor no resentment; on the contrary, it was an interesting journey, to say the least, which has provided me with valuable experiences and brought a name to my line.
There are various methods to launch a clothing line and some organizations that speed up that process, like GenArt
, Ecco Domani
and scholastic competitions. Most big-name designers today were working under various fashion houses before they were confident (and obtained the capital) to go off on their own. But today things are a bit different; I honestly believe one could launch a career online. If you have talent, something you’re good at and you create a collection you love, you can definitely succeed online. For instance, you can build an Etsy shop without taking expensive risks, so there’s very little to lose.
The Carly Dress by mydearthing, $118.
Slinky, edgy, refined not-so-basic basics with a twist — and most of her pieces are eco-friendly! The Carly dress is the perfect in-between-seasons piece for playing dress-up.
Two Piece Magenta Dress by janeyclothing, $75.
Gem colored clothing is what I dream of this autumn. Cute, realistic, wearable and photographed well, this magenta dress is lovely and would be great with lace leggings and a little black jacket — and a designer from Dublin is hard to come by!
kool.moedee military jacket by joodito, $160.
Anyone can wear a beat-up leather jacket and look cool, but I want more of a twist. The asymmetry of this jacket made from salvaged materials is what I find interesting — yet is still has clean tailored lines.
oatmeal soopascarf by Yokoo, $150.
I went wild when I first saw Yokoo’s knitwear. I very much dislike the shoulder pain knitting gives me, so I appreciate someone crazy enough to make these fantastic, sculptural pieces. I want them all in purples, oatmeal and black.
crocheted fingerless gloves by Catwalk7, $30.
These gloves are wonderful. I love anything to do with crochet and antique lace, and these gloves have just the right amount of elegance and quirk.
Luxe lace & sequence leggings by iheartnorwegianwood, $49.
I like all of these leggings, and this season you will see more fashionable legs in lace and decolletage than ever before.