“I live my life in party dresses. It’s a great part of being a young designer in New York,” Allison Parris told me when we sat down in her studio last week. Located in the heart of the city’s garment district, and just a few blocks from the factories where her entire line is produced, Allison’s studio is where party dress magic happens.
Tutus are central to the Allison Parris NY brand. I didn’t really think about this before visiting the studio, but tutus are, in their own way, timelessly classic. I remember once wearing a frilly, tulle-lined party dress to a semi-formal in college and literally feeling fun as soon as I put it on. Allison also makes sleeker silhouettes, and some gorgeous beaded skirts. Whatever APNY piece you’re wearing, you’ll be party ready once you slip it on.
You’ll also be doing Mother Earth a favor. As much as possible, Allison incorporates organic silks and fabrics made from recycled materials into her dresses. Due to sourcing difficulties and the still-evolving market for eco materials, not all of her dresses are made with these fabrics, but every single one is lined with recycled PET fabric. I touched the lining myself, and can attest that it feels just as soft as any dress I’ve worn.
Allison sources her print fabrics from the garment district just down the street. Since her line is more shape and detail driven, she is able to base an entire collection on three or four fabrics, and sometimes uses those fabrics year after year – minimizing waste.
Allison launched the line about three and half years ago, after graduating from FIT and working in mainstream fashion for a few years.
“Working in mass market was a great experience because you get to see how things can grow, but at the same time, you see things that put questions into your head,” Allison told me. “It shows you how little you can control, because even if you visit the factories in China that produce the garments, they know you are coming weeks in advance, so you can’t really trust what you see.”
Allison went on to explain that, because our economy is not doing so well, using American labor was the logical choice.