The fact that New Orleans has three fashion weeks in 2011 is testament to the untapped talent this city has to offer. When you think of southern based designers proper pearls often come to mind but Alicia Zenobia has a different aesthetic that remains out of the ordinary yet fits right in. Having won this year’s Alegria Fashion Show she has already proven herself here in the Big Easy. I asked Alicia to describe her background and how she keeps one step ahead of the pack.
I came to New Orleans on a whim, to work on a collection for my line, Autonomous Clothing, for four months. When I realized I was in an artist’s paradise, I never went back to New York, where I had been living and working in the fashion industry for 5 years. I come from a sculptural background, having studied sculpture at RISD (I got my fashion chops at FIT afterwards). I wanted to make art three dimensionally, because I felt that it was more tangible to viewers. I got into fashion to be even more accessible to viewers both as participants and spectators. Just about everyone wears clothes…or as I like to say, everyone wears a costume every day.
There’s a certain satisfaction out of making the wearer feel exquisitely stunning, while entertaining onlookers with a visual spectacular. That being said, most of my work is loud, geared for the outgoing, and brings the underground to the forground. Ironically, I think I try to make the people who wear my clothes look as naked as they possibly can, without feeling self conscious…in fact actively making them feel empowered by their sassiness. I’ve had so many models who were initially nervous to wear anything too risque, come back after a show or a shoot feeling like the finest thing that ever walked the earth. And everyone around them is in agreeance.
I come a little from the left with my look and stylings, but it’s just because I’m constantly seeking to create something that isn’t just rehashed shit. I want to stun people, at least a little. I want to entertain! I want people to want to look at the infinite possibility of creativity. I want people to realize that they’ve got something to offer, that everyone’s got sexy in them, that they can be whatever character they want in the play that is their lives.
Also, in a more practical way, I don’t see the point in making a garment similar to one you could pick up at Forever21 for 20 bucks. Let them buy the thing for 20 bux, not the $150+ that I’d have to charge to make a one of a kind piece that, for all practical purposes, could be from Forever21. I want to make something that makes the wearer stand out, not blend in.
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