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Thursday, August 13, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Allison Parris, Designer

Allison Parris, born in Santa Clarita, California and raised in Birmingham, Michigan, grew up in a creative household where artistic development was highly encouraged. Her mother, Heidi Parris- founder of Parris Interior Design, began sharing her knowledge of fabrics, design and construction very early on, while her father, Michael Parris- writer, photographer and public relations consultant, continuously stressed the importance of visual presentation and creating an image for oneself to share with the public.

Allison began her professional training in fashion design, pattern-making and sewing in her early teenage years and was designing evening gowns for clients throughout the Detroit area before she graduated high school. She continued to develop her talent at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, while working with staples of the American Fashion industry including Catherine Malandrino and Cynthia Rowley. Carving a name for herself designing custom evening and bridal gowns, Allison developed her classic, feminine style and gained recognition for these iconic looks.

Throughout her years in the industry, Allison has utilized her talent to benefit her community through the donation of gowns and collections for a variety of national fundraisers from political candidates to cancer research. This passionate dedication to the betterment of her community inspired Allison’s partnership with longtime friend and fellow humanitarian, Marissa Kim, to launch a contemporary designer level ready-to-wear line that represents their shared values of eco-consciousness and social responsibility.

Her first Fall/Winter ready-to-wear collection debuted at New York Fashion Week in February 2009 to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Gaining exposure at Manhattan based charity events and on the red carpet, the brand has already built a substantial following even before being released. The Fall/Winter 2009 Collection releases to Jesse James in New York as well as Hu’s Wear in Washingon D.C. on September 1, 2009. In an effort to aid in the recent “save the garment district” movement, all items from the Allison Parris collection will be produced in factories in New York’s Garment District.

Allison is currently in the process of creating her Spring/Summer 2010 line that will show in New York Fashion Week on September 15, 2009. The line is inspired by the music of the Andrew’s Sisters of the 1940’s. Going as far as to have some of their classic songs re-made into a club re-mix, she strives to create a line that exhibits an updated version of the joyful, easy going feeling that their music communicated.

When not in the workroom or preparing for the endless series of Fashion Week events, Allison can be found out and about enjoying all of the great restaurants, museums and culture that the city has to offer. She has been a life-long fan of Opera at the MET as well as the Museum of Natural History, and is always thrilled to be able to get out of the city for the summer Bridgehampton Polo games.

Peachy Deegan interviewed Allison Parris for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What made you want to be a designer?
Allison Parris: Both of my parents work in creative industries so i was always put in extra art classes, etc when i was younger. I cant remember the exact moment that i realized it was actually possible to make a living from sketching clothing and creating a line, but once i figured it out, I never looked back- I was never going to be anything else.

Where are you sold in Manhattan?
As of September 1st we'll be sold in Jesse James in the West Village. We also have our own online store.

How is your brand eco-friendly?
The technology for the "eco" aspect of clothing is continuously changing and developing, its a fairly exciting time to work in this part of the industry. Although its not yet possible for us to create an entirely recycled or organic line at the contemporary designer level, there are a lot of places where we can make the right decision and dramatically reduce our impact on the planet. For instance, our woven linings are made from recycled soda bottles, our silk is raw organic and we source our cotton locally and produce locally to reduce the fuel economy. We are continuously researching new eco-friendly practices to expand our reach into the eco-movement.

How would you characterize your style for those not familiar with it?
We aim to show the more sweet and happy side of fashion, our clothing still has an edge, but everything I design is meant to make the wearer feel good about themselves.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
My mom and dad have always been so supportive of my career choice, but they have been very good about keeping me in the mind-set of "there's no point in doing something if you're not going to do it right."

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
The FIT Museum

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
Jesse James or Darling... both West Village

What is your favorite drink?
Strawberry Milkshake

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
David Burke and Donatella... last time i was there they plated the food in mini red flyer wagons and things like that- it was so creative and cool!

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
Bergdorf Blonds... Guilty Pleasure

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Ummmmm... I don't work out... trying to move the backdrops/collection/racks/etc to the venue for the Fall 09 show was a bit of a workout i guess... and it ended up being pretty rewarding.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
I think Manhattan fireworks on the Fourth of July are better than anywhere else- I love hanging out at rooftop bbq's and watching them... or rooftop bbq's in general- not so common elsewhere, but I love them...

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
One of my clients took me the the private members viewing for the model/muse exhibit at the MET. There was almost no one there and I was able to get really close up to inspect all of the Galliano gowns- it was great.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated: DUMBO flea market
Overrated: Clubs in the meatpacking district...

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
Cultured Peachy... its always nice to have someone writing about what ELSE is going on in the city- not just nightlife

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
Like trivia? uh... even at 5'10 and walking miles a day, i refuse to wear flat shoes- i don't even own them actually- love sky high heels... Also love cooking- much better at baking, but I'll try anything out. My perfume is Anna Sui. My "quick fix" for a bad day is a manicure. In the Hamptons I refuse to read anything with any substance to it- only gossip rags. Favorite book is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand... Anything else?

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
E-mail please! :)

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