Fashion Chat: 10 Questions with Andrea Lieberman of A.L.C.
One of the music and entertainment industry's most respected names, Andrea Lieberman, dressed A-listers like Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez back when celeb stylists tended to shy away from the spotlight themselves. In 2008, she returned to her design roots (Lieberman's a Parsons grad, after all), launching a contemporary collection called A.L.C. Packed with draped jersey dresses, floor-grazing maxiskirts and little leather jackets softer than butter, the line includes the sort of basic wardrobe staples Lieberman's famous clientele might favor on their days off.
As the New York native prepares to add jewelry to her brand for Spring 2012, I caught up with her about the differences between styling and design—and the treasures in her own closet.
Let's talk a bit about your fashion past. How did you originally get your foot in the door in this competitive industry?
I inadvertently entered the styling world by helping out various people I knew in the industry, and eventually I started booking my own jobs and clients and building my own relationships. Word of mouth is the best endorsement, and I'm eternally grateful to all the people who vouched for me in the beginning.
What's the most memorable moment from your styling years?
There was a moment years ago when I was on tour with a certain band, and was looking at the crowd of thousands of young girls imitating the clothes we had created for the show...but all in their own unique and special way. It sort of blew my mind that these looks had spawned a movement, and it was thrilling to see how the girls reinterpreted the style and made it their own. It just reinforced my believe that fashion can be this universal language that can unite us while at the same time serving as the ultimate self-expression.
What originally made you decide to take the leap from styling into the design arena?
I actually had originally set out to be a fashion designer. I went to Parsons to study fashion design and I always knew it was what I wanted to end up doing. Styling gave me the unique opportunity to travel the world and work with incredible people, which was amazing when I was in my twenties and wasn't tied to any one particular place. Eventually though, I began to think about settling down, starting a family and staying put for awhile. That's when it really felt like the right time to re-devote my efforts to my first passion and launch this brand.
Would you say that working with your celebrity clients informed your personal aesthetic when it came time to design on your own?
I've been so incredibly lucky to work with some of the most talented woman in the business, so it's impossible for me to pick just one. I will say that my styling experience was a huge asset when I started designing, because I felt like I had a thorough understanding of what my clients wanted to wear on a daily basis and what makes them feel beautiful. When I'm designing, I always ask myself, "Would I wear this? Would my friends wear this?" If the answer is yes, I know I'm on the right track.
How would you describe the A.L.C. look in a single sentence?
Easy, effortless and chic...while still maintaining swagger.
What's your absolute favorite item to design?
I'm completely obsessed with designing jackets. My collections always have an abundance of them in all different materials and shapes. The pieces I love most in my own wardrobe are beat-up jackets that I've had for years. I try to create designs that are timeless and will travel with you and be a part of your history. That way, every time you look at it, you're reminded of a story, and when you put it on it feels like home.
This season, you're offering jewelry for the first time ever! Let's talk about your new gems.
I've long been inspired by tribal adornments and viewing jewelry as a means to defining one's spirit. With this A.L.C. jewelry collection, I wanted to take that tribal inspiration and manifest it in pieces that are clean and modern with a bit of edge. I drew heavily on bondage elements like vintage handcuffs, screws and locks because they are innately simplistic and utilitarian, which I love.
What's the single biggest difference between being a stylist and being a designer?
Styling is more specific. You are designing for one person and creating a persona and vibe for him or her that is completely unique. With designing, it's about making pieces that are incredibly beautiful and special, but still universal.
What skills have you acquired over the years that apply to both jobs?
Thoughout the years I've developed my ability to edit, which is hugely valuable as both a stylist and a designer. I'll dedicate myself to a collection for months and feel passionate about every piece, so it can be difficult to step back and identify what needs to be cut. That's when my editing skills are essential.
Let's end on something fun: what's at the top of your wish list this holiday season?
Spending time with my family!
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