Designer: Alyson Eastman
I met Aly several years ago when she first arrived in New York City working in a luxury women's shop doing retail sales. Something that all New Yorkers ask each other is "why are you here?" She said she planned to have her own line one day, and I smiled in that "let me guess, you're a model/actor/DJ/stylist/blogger/designer" kinda way; for some reason forgetting where Donna Karan, Michael Kors and many others got their start. I got to know her over the years and found a young woman who could go from running around a farm doting on dogs and llamas in southern Washington State to a sophisticated lady holding court in a Parisian restaurant wearing a facinator while catching up with friends in fluent French. She balances her charming girl-next-door roots with a modern, if not calculated sex appeal... something that is reflected directly in her collections. So years later after watching her evolution from the sidelines, she still holds some mystery to me. I'm hoping this can be the perfect forum to find out what is going on in her head.
EP: First thing, give me an exact time frame of when you first said I am going to do this and you held a garment in your hands. What was your process?
I always knew I wanted to design and have my own clothing line -- I studied fashion design both in Los Angeles and Paris, and during my time in New York I worked for a number of different designers (Zac Posen, Badgley Mischka, Ports 1961 and Julie Haus). I finally found my voice in December 2013 when I was looking for a new winter coat and could not find anything I loved. I decided to sketch one up and had it made. Within two weeks, I had created my first garment start to finish. A collection soon followed and I had my first presentation in February 2014.
EP: Inspiration; to me you are dressing yourself but I know you. Who are these clothes talking to and what purpose is making them desirable for her?
I draw new inspiration each time I create a collection. In my past collections, I have been inspired by Paris, Montauk and Russia in the winter time with the snow at sunset. I love the romanticism in fashion and I try to pull all that inspiration and translate those feelings into a wearable garment that will take a woman from day to night in both a professional and social lifestyle.
EP: I mentioned balancing modesty and sex appeal... what is your take on your collections?
Thank you, Eddie! That is exactly the culture I want to promote -- a balance between the smart, powerful woman who can be sexy and feminine at the same time. For me, professionalism doesn't just mean a pencil skirt... blazer... power pump, and a social look can be quite sophisticated and still be sexy. I want women to look luxury all the time.
EP: You have created presentations, lookbooks and a video... what were the pros and cons of each? How did you make this content happen?
Honestly, it has all been an evolution. I am really lucky to have an amazing group of friends -- all in the creative industries -- and as the brand has progressed, so has our approach to presenting each collection. At the end of the day, we want to evolve and do something new, while having fun at the same time. We are all so creative that we are able to channel the inspiration in a number of different ways.
A look book is a necessity in the fashion industry to sell during market, but we decided to take it one step further this season and make it more of a visual story that could be experienced by the women who will actually be wearing the collection. We decided to make a video, which was more of a challenge, but we can all agree it was worth it. Logistically, the video was a multi-step process. It was my first time doing a project like this, so naturally there were a few hiccups but we all worked together and it turned out great!
EP: You have your hands all over this business, what have been the biggest challenges? Are you compromising personal life for these accomplishments or have you maintained a balance?
Absolutely I have compromised personal life, but it is my dream so I am okay with that. This is what I have dreamt of since I was a little girl so most of the time it doesn't feel like work. I think time management has become my new challenge. I have had to learn to be organized with my time and what needs to get done. It is very easy to get on a creative tangent and lose track of time.
EP: Who else is in the closet of this client?
Acne Studios, The Row, Isabel Marant, Dries Van Noten and Alexander Wang.
EP: I LOVE the jackets and skirts; what pieces are you standing behind and finally if you only kept one, what would it be?
That is really a hard question. Obviously I love it all and I have a special connection with each piece. I really do love the dress with pleats (it comes in navy or pink and cream). in fact, I think it may be my favorite. This dress was the biggest challenge because we used different forms of pleating and fabrics that were new to us. That would be the one piece I keep because it is definitely a day-to-night garment and I feel great in it. As for the leather jacket -- I love that too! I have been coveting the perfect leather jacket for a while now and I finally made it (in my opinion it's perfect) so I would maybe sneak that one with me too.