The position of celebrity turned fashion designer is a precarious one to say the least. While stars like Victoria Beckham and Ashley & Mary Kate Olsen
have proved their fashion credentials through their respective sell out lines, many others have fallen by the wayside. Althea Harper is a celebrity turned
designer in reverse, a designer given pages of press coverage thanks to her place as a finalist on season 6 of Project Runway. So understandably her
Fall/Winter 2011 presentation was a flash bulb frenzy. Whether or not that media attention is truly deserved is a difficult question to answer. Harper’s
inspiration for fall came from the posters of Hollywood movies from the 1940s and 50s. Harper wanted her damsels in distress to be less distressed,
playing to their powerful, strong sides.
The designer’s chosen color palette was a spectrum of slate, letting fabric and tailoring provide the interest. And Harper did a good job of it on the whole,
particularly on the dresses. A slinky grey number with a defiant slit up the middle and contrasting insets on the hips and bust brought Harper’s vintage
damsel in distress very much up to date. Another grey dress, this time one-shouldered with a contrasting softer grey panel which ran up the shoulder,
was unexpectedly demure but powerful (As was a black dress with sheer, long sleeves and a digital print across the body).
The dresses were seemingly simple body-con, knee-length, contrasting panels, but nonetheless each of them had a presence and strength. However,
the shorter dresses missed the mark, devoid of any sense of softness or mystery. Harper redeemed herself with a perfectly cut black V-neck tee, the kind
that every woman should own, which was paired with grey utility pants. As well as a beautifully printed grey collarless shirt and cropped pants.
By stepping away from the conventional perception of the femme fatale, complete with clinging dress and over-spilling bosom, Harper showed that
strength and presence can be conveyed in many ways and that, sometimes, there’s nothing sexier than plain pants and a well cut tee.
POSTED February 12, 2011
Althea Harper Gives Us Damsels Who
Are More Well Dressed Than Distressed
Althea Harper takes inspiration from Old Hollywood to bring us some modern va va voom.
By Isabella Redmond Styles
Photo Credit: Althea Harper