Labels: Anna McCraney, Daniella Kallmeyer, James-Paul Ancheta, T Lo Interviews, The Fashion Show, The Fashion Show Season 1, The Fashion Show Season 1 Finale Part 2, The Fashion Show T Lo Interviews
So, America wasn’t ready for you, huh?
Actually, I do think that America is ready for the collection I’ve done because it’s not mainstream. If they let me stay that long on the show and the judges believed in it...it just needed to be injected in the mainstream even if it’s a very slow process. It’s not something that American fashion is very used to, but it’s starting to build and develop. I do believe in pushing the envelope.
Were you surprised by the results?
I think the judges have really taken into consideration the show and its purpose, which was a mass-produced fashion that people can easily buy from a rack or from a mall or department store.
You said you have an appetite for experimentation and we saw a lot of that on the show.
Yes, I was trained to do American women’s wear, I got my Associate's from FIDM in Los Angeles and I thought that there had to be something else that could be developed from American sportswear or women’s wear. I’m always taking techniques and principles into consideration and developing them in different ways, in an upside-down manner. The development of experiments and ideas definitely drives the way that clothing is manufactured and produced.
You also said that you always try to incorporate ethnicity and minorities in your work.
For me, I was really inspired by what makes people different. I was researching a lot of sociology theories and I’ve discovered there’s a lot of sociology that is trying to study how people relate to each other; the relationship between two different worlds. So I try to incorporate both of those. I started researching different cultures in their pure form and when the Western world had its first contact with the Eastern world, when the first changes occurred and how they complement each other and I’m bringing that idea in today’s fashion. All my work is supported by research. Everything I do has a theoretical and a visual reason to it.
A lot of people were a little confused with your inspiration for your collection. Can you tell us exactly you had in mind?
I was inspired by a BBC show about aboriginals producing all these works of art for the Western market and how the creative agencies would take their work and pay them very little and sell those pieces for thousands of Australian dollars. I was interested in the interaction between these two worlds, and also on indigenous people wearing Western clothing. How some parts of the world have changed through colonization and how that influenced how they dress. I found all these recycled clothes that America or Europe donates to Africa and thought of using the same patterns and adding details or my take on these patterns. I also used fabrics that aren’t normally used with Western fashion.
Some people would consider your work way too conceptual. Do you agree with them?
I don’t agree that my pieces are too conceptual. With this collection, they are all separate pieces that people could wear with jeans or a more colorful item and they would look fantastic. I like my work to be personalized by the person who’s wearing it and really change the way clothes are put together. Mass-produced fashion has taken away so much of our creativity, especially the way we want to put the looks together. We’ve always been dictated…if you put this type of clothing together with this dress won’t work, so instead of that, I want people to really play with the clothes. Each piece and each garment is actually a basic piece of clothing.
Did you enjoy the experience on the show? Do you think that opened new doors for you?
This experience totally opened a new way of looking at fashion for me. I’m glad the show showcased small designers, we’re all supporting each other and we were there to really thrive as a creative community. It was very challenging. It definitely put me in a different thinking mode because now I try to incorporate not only a European perspective but an American one as well in my pieces. I’m trying to reach a much broader audience.
You looked great on the last episode. Did you make that outfit?
No, I did not make the outfit but I did make the necklace, however. Thank you, though.
So, you’re making jewelry now?
You know what? Fern and Glenda told me during the taping of the finale that they were really impressed by my jewelry and that was something I should do and I got so inspired that I came home and went a little nuts.
You did the clothes, the jewelry, the music…you did it all, girl. Are you a controlling person?
No, I don’t think so, I’m just so inspired by all aspects of the arts and I grew up surrounded by so many artistic influences, I sort of grew up in the theater. Another passion of mine is musical theater. I wasn’t even planning on doing the music track, and honestly, I didn’t even take that seriously, I just wanted to do something fun.
The question that everybody asks, were you disappointed that you didn’t win?
Oh my god, no. To me the only difference is the money and honestly I couldn’t be more honored with the prize that was given to me. This is what I was trying to explain to some people when the last episode aired. We didn’t go into this knowing that there would be more than one prize. How lucky are we? This is exactly what the both of us need. Anna already has a line established that she’s been putting her own personal money into, so she already has a brand but needs funding and what I really want right now is to work for another designer so that I can be influenced by them before I try to be an influential designer.
Are you going to take Glenda Bailey up on her offer?
Am I ever! [laughs] In my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined that sort of feedback and offer, I am so honored and so happy.
Being the judges’ favorite is not a small thing.
It’s huge, and literally, I was speechless, and actually watching the episode I was listening to the whole thing very intently because I had completely blanked out during the actual thing, it felt like I was listening to Isaac for the first time. I was trying to hold back emotions and tears.
You were the youngest person on the show. How did you feel about that? Did you feel a lot of pressure?
I know that I mentioned it so many times during the show and you won’t believe me, but I never even saw it as an aspect of me in the competition until it was sort of pushed as such a factor when I was auditioning. I was just there to present my work and I thought that my work would speak for itself and then they kept mentioning to me that I was the youngest one on the show and the least experienced. And my reaction was, “wow, is everyone really that much older than me? That much more experienced?” And that sort of got me putting this armor up when I went into it.
You definitely had the trendiest collection. Do you think that’s an important element when designing a new collection?
Yes, I think that’s what fashion is all about. I don’t think that it’s necessarily me thinking that’s important to be trendy. To me the beauty in fashion and how fashion…your first reaction when you see it. The reason why we exist as fashion designers is to sort of to convince people that this is what they should be wearing next. You have amazing designers in this world like Balenciaga, Prada and you see their collection for the first time and you go, “Have they gone crazy?” That’s an amazing thing about fashion that if you can convince people you can get away with that.
Your collection had so many details, like the leather shoulders, for example.
I really enjoyed working on it. There was so much I put into it. I don’t think people realize how much of a craft I used to create it. For example, the bustier and the leather shoulders, I created clay molds and then baked the molds, and then shellacked the molds, and each pair of shoulders I soaked for a day, then stretched them for hours and hours, they took a week to dry, and then I would put the next set on, the bustier the same thing, I kept soaking it and re-stretching it all so that it could be completely seamless.
What did you want to convey most with your collection?
When I first started my research, the thing that inspired me the most about the armor was, like I said, the seamless factor. In typical fashion designing and pattern making you need seams to go with a woman’s curves. I was so inspired by these cast, metal armor plates and the way they were shaped like a chest or shoulder and I want to do that. I saw this hard but edgy inspiration in my head and hearing Isaac and Fern saying “why don’t you show more who you are? You are young and you are a girl.” You know, to show more youth, more of a feminine touch, so I wanted to find that balance.
Congratulations, Anna! We’re so happy for you. Were you surprised?
Thank you. I definitely was surprised, I was prepared for whatever outcome, so yeah, I was thrilled and surprised and it was great.
You kept a very low profile on the show. You even said you don’t have the TV personality.
I was just thinking in the back of my mind that no matter what happened I still would have to step out of it and be in the real world again and in my profession and in this industry you don’t want to lose respect from people because you did something stupid on a reality TV show. That was always there for me for sure.
Being the head designer of Dolce Vita, do you feel that helped you during the competition?
Oh, yeah, that was really challenging. They have a very successful shoe brand, but then we launched this clothing line to go with it. They’re all about selling, so that job really taught me how to make clothes that people want.
Your collection was inspired by Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. What exactly did you take from the painting to your collection?
I was really struck by how fantastical the painting is, how surreal it is. It’s interesting how it was painted in the 1500s and yet it’s so modern. Especially the colors, for me, I love the colors in that painting, the nature, floral aspects…there was so much to take from it.
Some people thought that your collection was just a rehash of what you did on the show. Do you agree?
I think I did detailing that I used on the show, but I don’t think it’s a rehash. I definitely tried to push it forward and add new things. Do a detail but push it further, like the long blue gown, that was much harder than what I did on the show. I really had to think about the proportions and all of that.
Did it bother you that you weren’t the judges’ favorite?
No, it didn’t bother me. It was obvious to me that they loved Daniella’s collection. Actually, I love it too. Her collection is very current and it looks a lot like what is popular in high-fashion right now. It made sense to me that she was the judges’ favorite.
Not everything has to be high-fashion and we think you have a good eye for what women want to wear.
You really have to spend the time talking to people, getting their feedback, not to be afraid to hear it. It has helped me grow as a designer.
It was exciting watching your runway show. The crowd went crazy with every piece. Obviously people like what you produce. What was your reaction to that?
I was thrilled, I was backstage and I couldn’t really hear it, but I heard clapping and I was saying to myself “Why are they clapping? It’s not over yet.” [laughs] It was incredible seeing people have an emotional response to the pieces, that is so wonderful, that’s what I wanted.
What’s next for Anna?
I’m going to start immediately doing e-commerce on my website and I may open a store here in NY. I like the idea of having the face-to-face interaction with the public and taking my clothes straight to the customers. That’s definitely a possibility, I just need to see how the financials work out.
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