This year, for the first time ever, Gilt Groupe partnered with the CFDA to launch the Gilt/CFDA All-Star Scholarshop Award—a prize that would allow a talented up-and-coming design student to have his or her collection produced and sold by Gilt.com. To select a recipient from a pool of five finalists, Gilt tapped its own general manager of womenswear Jyothi Rao, designers Prabal Gurung and Stacey Bendet and the CFDA’s Lisa Smilor. The inaugural winner was FIT graduating senior and native Arizonian Kieran Dallison, who will continue to receive mentorship from his judging panel.
Last week, I was invited to join Kieran on the set of his very first lookbook shoot, the product of which launches on Gilt.com tomorrow at 12 pm sharp. Read on for my Q&A with this talented newcomer, and click through to peep behind-the-scenes shots from the set. Plus, take a look at all the Kieran Dallison pieces you’ll be able to shop tomorrow at noon—only on Gilt.com.
Lucky: First off, congrats on this amazing honor! You must be so psyched.
Kieran Dallison: Yeah! It’s hugely flattering to be a part of this. To have this as my first professional step post-graduation is such a fantastic thing.
You’re originally from Arizona. How does that inform your designs, if at all?
Well, everyone’s a product of where they came from…and I think the pure "un-fashion-ness" of northern Arizona has totally affected my life in fashion. It grounds it. At the end of the day, we’re designing clothes with an end purpose—they have to be wearable. Also, I’m from a ski town—it’s actually a highland desert. So I draw on a lot of those desert colors in my work.
I’m noticing a lot of longer hemlines in your collection, especially asymmetrical ones. What’s that about?
Well, a lot of the collection’s inspired by my life here in New York. And one day, I saw this girl getting out of a cab who was wearing a long red dress, and I loved seeing the dress trail out of the cab in a really dramatic way. So I included this red dress with a high-low hem in the collection. My mom is a dancer, and that above anything has probably served as one of my greatest inspirations. Movement and how clothes react to the body is hugely important to me, and these longer hemlines really work in that way. I also use a lot of "dancerly" fabrics and leotard-like necklines.
Earlier this morning, you pointed out the silk navy jumpsuit as your favorite piece in the collection. Tell me more about it!
It’s definitely my favorite piece—it’s just so easy and flattering. It actually wasn’t going to be in the collection at all, and only in the second fitting did someone run up with a package from the basement—and it just so happened to contain this jumpsuit. It just fit in so perfectly that we had to include it. It was fate.
What was it like working with Prabal Gurung, who was one of your judges in this competition?
Actually, I had no idea that he was going to be on the judging panel, and he had no idea I was going to be a participant—and as it turns out, I actually interned for him for a year and a half while I was in school! It was great to have him view my work not just as his intern, but to witness my own design work. I find him so inspiring, and I feel like he designs for such an intelligent girl.
What was your experience at FIT like?
It was really intense. I dont think people realize that when you go into fashion, it’s not just a job—it’s a lifestyle commitment that sees you devoting yourself to a single craft. At the end of the day, you’re judged by your end product, and not many people care to know about the process. But still, there’s so much thought that goes into creating great clothes. I was actually most affected by living in New York and taking what the city had to offer—both through internships and amazing competitions like this one.
Any advice you can share with aspiring young designers out there?
Do as much as possible outside the classroom. The industry changes at blazing speed, and professors can only offer so much—so get out there, intern, look at clothes and study what people are really wearing.
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