Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fresh Fashion: Anthony E. Alfonsi

I always look forward to attending Fashion Columbia’s annual fashion show charity event. Fashion Columbia 2013 is a presentation celebrating collections of a select few graduates of Columbia College's Fashion Studies program.  Fashion Columbia is the college’s premiere spring fundraising event. Net proceeds benefit scholarships in the Fashion Studies Department at Columbia.
More than 200 guests were at attendance at the Fashion Columbia 2013 on June 7th.  The event was held at the Columbia College Media Production Center. In its second year, the silent and live auctions, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships helped raise $150,000 for student scholarships in the Department of Fashion Studies.  For more information on the fund raising event, CLICK HERE.

Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times

The fashion show featured 45 student designs, including evening gowns, outerwear and dresses.  The collections were exciting and fashion-forward.  There were a couple of stand-out designers for me personally.

One of them was Anthony E. Alfonsi, fashion designer, pattern maker and seamster. His collection spoke to my inner punk rocker with his edgy, multi-textured designs.  I was fortunate enough to interview him and learn more about his beginnings, inspirations, vision and his thoughts on the future.

Anthony E. Alfonsi

Who were your primary fashion and non-fashion influences growing up and why? 

My main influences growing up are my grandmother Luciene Alfonsi, my parents, and music. My grandmother was a tailor and she showed me sewing techniques and helped me with some sewing when I first started. My parents have been supportive of everything I do. I listen to lots of metal and punk rock music, which first interested me sewing. 

What was the first article of clothing you created? And when? 

The first piece of clothing I created was a denim jacket when I was about 16 years old. I used to go to thrift stores with my friend Dave and we would buy clothes to alter. I bought a denim jacket of which I added studs and patches of bands that I listen to. I also fitted the jacket to my size.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue fashion design as a career? 

I realized I wanted to pursue fashion as a career not long after I dropped out of college at Purdue Calumet as an Engineer Major. I have always enjoyed creating and constructing, so I thought about some kind of Design degree. My brother Dan was already attending Columbia College and it was mentioned they had a fashion design program. After attending a few classes I was hooked. 

What is the general process you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing? Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection? How long does it take generally to construct a piece? What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design? 

I usually use images or an image as a concept/inspiration. From that I design a collection or garments. The creative process is intense because I have to take much into consideration. My research process is pretty much the same for most designs depending on the concept. For my designs it usually takes 10 to 16 hours to pattern, cut, and sew. I enjoy all the stages of the design process. 

How would you define the style your collection exemplifies? 

The style of my collection is structured ready to wear. 

What do you like best and least about designing clothes? 

My favorite part is actually everything that goes into creating a garment. The only thing I like the least is when the collection or garments are finished. 

What are your favorite colors, patterns/prints and fabrics to work with and why? 

I like to work with dark colored heavy and medium weight fabrics like vinyl and denim. I enjoy working with vinyls because if it is sewn incorrectly it will show as well as it doesn’t stretch. The same goes for the medium fabrics, except they have some stretch to them. 

Your collection at Fashion Columbia showcased amazing designs for women. Do you design pieces for men or plan to in the future? 

I do design pieces for men. I particularly think it's more difficult to design for menswear. I have some jackets and pants I designed that I would like to sell on some underground punk rock websites. I also design slim fitted suits, but that's about all I do in menswear. 

Do you design jewelry or accessories? If not, do you have any interest in designing jewelry or accessories in the future? 

I do not really design jewelry but accessories. I have designed and created some fetish style accessories like bondage masks and belts. I would like to make more wearable accessories in the future. 

What are your philosophies regarding using animal skins or furs? 

I personally don’t like using them. I am a vegetarian and I love animals, so I use alternatives to the real thing. I use vinyls and fake furs that will last just as long; as well as look and feel the same. 

Who/what inspires and influences you the most in fashion? 

Many vintage designers as well as present designers inspire me in fashion. 

Do you have any favorite vintage designers who inspire you? 

Yes, I’m a big fan of Ossie Clark and his snake skin jacket. 

Who would you love to work for (if anyone)? 

I would love to work with Betsey Johnson.

What are your favorite and least favorite trends right now and why? 

My favorite trend is the exposed zippers, and least favorite would have to be high-waisted pants. 

How would you define your personal style? 

My personal style pretty basic with jeans, t-shirt and a denim vest. 

Who is your style icon and why? 

My style icon would of have to of been Alexander McQueen. I love his styling for his shows. 

What's your favorite fashion piece that you own and why? 

I don't really own fashion piece but I would have to pick it would be my black denim skinny jeans. 

How would you describe Chicago's style and its place in the fashion industry? 

Chicago’s style is pretty basic compared to NY and its somewhat current to fashion trends. 

Now that you have graduated, what are your plans? What are some of your fashion goals? 

I would like to sell jackets and jeans to underground clothing companies. Also I would like to start my own line Anthony Edward Alfonsi. I would like to do custom garments as well as sell collection pieces fit to the size of the customer. Also hopefully move to NY at some point but it's expensive. 

Where can readers find out more about you and your work? How would someone be able to obtain one of your pieces (website or address)?  You can email if you would like a custom or an already designed garment.


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