BY SID MARCH
If you fancy yourself a fashion savvy lesbian, you’re probably familiar with Alicia Hardesty. An up-and-coming designer featured on this season’s “Project Runway,” Alicia is the ace of style every bent lady needs on her side. Her Original Tomboy collection features “mod-Huck” inspired clothes that reflect her Kentucky roots with an LA-chic edge.
Lesbian.com caught up with Alicia and discussed fashion, fashion, fashion … and the unsolvable mystery of how to make cat hair-covered sweaters look hot.
Reality TV can kind of skyrocket people into the spotlight. How are you handling all the attention?
I’m cool. I just have fun with it, answer questions, converse with different people. The attention isn’t what’s hard to handle, it’s all the work I have on my plate.
Editors can really create a character by picking and choosing what side of people that portray on the screen. How do you feel about the version of Alicia Hardesty that is being presented? Is it accurate?
With this group of designers, we are all so different and bring something unique to the table, the producers/editors didn’t have to do anything to really create characters. We were already characters. But, from what I’ve seen, they edit the story accurately. They can’t show everything; there’s just not enough time. I haven’t seen anything that represented me negatively or that was inaccurate.
Being on a show like “Project Runway” obviously requires serious talent, dedication, teamwork and determination. Are you a naturally competitive person? Is this kind of experience something very natural for you?
I’m competitive but I don’t take it so seriously that I lose my cool. I’ve never been in this kind of competitive situation or work situation. Nothing about it was necessarily natural for me, but I adapt quickly and get with the program, do what I have to do and meet the challenge.
Let’s step away from reality TV star-Alicia and talk about designer-Alicia. I love what I’ve seen of your Original Tomboy designs. Although the styles and aesthetics are different, the sensibility kind of reminds me of lines like Marimacho, with its potential to be gender neutral, or even genderqueer. Is that a market you’re going for?
Yes, that’s definitely a market I’m going for. There is an inherent sensibility within gender neutral clothing and Original Tomboy embodies that while offering styles that a lot of people, men and women, appreciate and want to wear.
Define what tomboy style is to you.
There’s a simplicity to it, a certain level of confidence as well, to venture outside the boxes of menswear and womenswear. Tomboy style can be edgy, contemporary, vintage, a little girly, masculine, but it always go back to a great pair of pants.
How big an influence is Kentucky on your designs? How about LA?
For Original Tomboy, Kentucky is a huge influence. I mean, it made me the person I am today; it all started there. It’s in the branding and core of the brand. LA has influenced me in giving me the opportunity to explore what I like to design the most. There’s a lot of opportunity in LA to do your own thing, to see your vision through.
On the Original Tomboy website it states the collection is to “redefine what it means to dress ‘like a girl.’” So, what is your favorite way to see a girl dressed?
Simplicity is key — clean looks, contemporary, heels or boots.
Is there someone you would love to see wearing your clothes? You know, that moment where your heart totally does a somersault: “Oh-my-god (so and so) is wearing a jacket I designed on the red carpet!”
Ellen Degeneres, for sure. Also, Tilda Swinton.
Is there one famous fashion moment/item that is totally iconic to you, embodies everything you love in clothing?
What role do you think being out has played in your success so far? Do you think lesbians, or queer women in general, have a particular role in the fashion world?
Being out has been a huge part of my success because it’s allowed me to be genuine and honest. I don’t like to use labels unnecessarily, but being out puts me under one. It adds to my story and to the persective I have to share with the fashion industry. There’s not a lot of us out there, lesbian fashion designers, but lesbians are quickly claiming space in this industry as fashionable and relevant. It’s part of who I am, and that naturally influences everything I do in some way.
What rules have you set for yourself as a designer aesthetically, ethically, personally?
No commerce without morality. I try to do projects that I can be passionate about.
What is your favorite piece of clothing? Your go-to outfit?
G-star denim, maybe suspenders, button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, sneakers or boots; depends on where I’m going.
I can’t help but be curious — if you could ban one style, one cut, or element of fashion (or anti-fashion!) what would it be?
Flip flops. Unless you live near the beach … or you’re taking out the trash.
What if you could reintroduce one style from the past that is currently out of vogue … what would you love to see more people wearing?
I like the dropped waist Chanel look from the 20s. There’s something about that look that I love.
Alright, and I’ve got to know, I’ve always got to know. Do you like cats? Or maybe dogs? Do you have any brilliant designer tricks for getting cat hair off your clothes, or making it look cool?
I love cats and dogs, but I don’t have brilliant tricks for that one.