PROFILE: Alana Hale

Even without taking fashion as seriously as most New Yorkers do, California designer, Alana Hale, has been able to give her brand the same flair and quality that every fashionista needs.

Even without taking fashion as seriously as most New Yorkers do, California designer, Alana Hale, has been able to give her brand the same flair and quality that every fashionista needs.

Judging by her high-drama fashion collection, one would never guess that Alana Hale is just a laidback California girl who lives in her AG jeans. Sure, she spices them up with Givenchy heels and Forever 21 accessories, but she stays true to her blonde, SoCal roots in her styling. Ever since Paula Abdul rocked a head-to-toe look from her line, Hale has been at the center of L.A.’s fashion radar – even Rachel Zoe said she loves her designs, so it wasn’t long before her name reached the Big Apple. Inspired by her fall collection (based on The Phantom of the Opera) and excited for her Cali-inspired spring line, Alana talks about the differences in East and West Coast styles and, surprisingly, takes the stance that there are no rules in fashion.


YRB: What do you feel defines L.A. fashion?

Alana: A lot of people think L.A. fashion is super casual, but it’s more about the way you wear it; it’s really worn with a laidback ease, no matter what you’re wearing. You could be dressed up for a cocktail party or just running errands on a Sunday afternoon. It has the same ease about it; that’s why I love L.A.

YRB: Do you consider your line to cater to this idea of L.A. fashion?

Alana: It depends on how you style it. My line as a whole, when you look at it, has a lot more European fashion, and that’s because I love Europe and I’m always inspired by European architecture and the way of life there. But it’s the way you style it too. You can take one of the dramatic over-the-top motorcycle leather jackets and pare it down with jeans, or [put] leather shorts with an easy tank. It’s the way you style it that makes it “area fashion.”

YRB: What are the differences you see between L.A. and New York fashions?

Alana: New York is more sophisticated and a little more serious, I’d say. It has a very professional feel to it. In L.A., I feel like people just kind of throw on whatever, it depends on your personal style. But New York, it’s a lot more put together and thought out. In New York, you’re always on the go. Whenever I’m there I never see my hotel room. Your outfit definitely has to work for every occasion that comes up throughout the day.

YRB: Where is your favorite place to shop in L.A.?

Alana: I really love Curve on Robertson. I think it’s really different. I love the different stores. It has a lot of designer wear, but it’s a lot of stuff that you don’t really see everywhere. I also love Forever 21 for those little last minute additions, cheap little accessories. I think Forever 21 does an amazing job with that, but those things are a one-time wear.

YRB: How often do you visit New York?

Alana: Maybe about twice a year. Things come up and I’ll go to New York, but most everything we do is L.A.-based, all my resources are here, so there’s really no reason to leave. But for sales or business things I’ll fly to New York. I love any excuse to go!

YRB: Favorite place to shop in New York?

Alana: I love Realm in SoHo, and then I love Bergdorf Goodman’s for the displays. Those window displays… that’s one thing, even if I don’t do any shopping, I need to at least just walk by the windows. And at Christmastime, forget about it. They’re out of control; I love their window displays!

YRB: How do you describe your own sense of style?

Alana: I feel like I have a pretty laidback, effortless, casual style. That’s how I view it, but then my friends are always teasing me that I’m always very dressed up for every occasion. But better to be dressed up than dressed down.

YRB: Favorite color to wear?

Alana: I love wearing beige, gold and red together, but let one piece stand out, like gold accents or gold jewelry with beige and red clothing. I have a really vibrant personality and I like feeling bright. When I wear warm colors, that’s when I feel the most comfortable.

YRB: Favorite piece of clothing you own?

Alana: First of all, I’m addicted to clothes. You can never have enough clothes. Right now, I love my jeans because I live in my jeans – my AG jeans and then my Givenchy heels. [They’re] from a few years ago, but I still wear them everywhere. They’re so comfortable and they go with everything because they’re a shade of nude.

YRB: Your fall collection has a lot of interesting fabrics like feathers, leather, velvet, fur, lace, etc. What were your inspirations in using these?

Alana: The whole inspiration for the collection started when I saw The Phantom of the Opera. I love musicals, I love going to the theater, but I had never seen it, and I was like, “This is amazing.” Plus, I loved the architecture of the Paris Opera House; that was one of my favorite things in Paris. So it was kind of a combination of the actual structure of the Paris Opera House and the interior and then the play itself, how it was so dramatic and opulent, so much to look at, so much texture. So I played off of that.

YRB: What is your favorite piece from the collection?

Alana: I have two favorite pieces: I love the dress with the fur on the skirt and the cap-sleeves, the nude mesh and the black lace on the torso. That is my favorite dress. And then I love the brocade jacket. You can’t really tell by a picture, but the detail of it is amazing. It is impeccable, not to toot my own horn. My seamstress is an amazing, amazing tailor, it fits amazing, and I just love it. I would never say my work is done when it comes to fit. I’m still learning as each collection goes; if it doesn’t fit then it’s not flattering, and if it’s not flattering then who wants to wear it?

YRB: Anything you can reveal about your Spring 2012 line?

Alana: I’m working on it now; I’m very excited about it. You’re going to see a lot more of the L.A. style and influences.

YRB: Who would be your dream to dress?

Alana: Easy. Blake Lively or Gwyneth Paltrow – I love them both. Gwyneth, in modern times, she is the classic beauty. She looks good no matter what. I just love her and think she is so cute. And then, Blake Lively is now the fashion it-girl, and I think everything she wears she wears with ease, and that’s kind of what I go for in my line. She can wear something that is so over-the-top, and the ways she wears it is just with so much ease and confidence.

YRB: Who are your favorite designers?

Alana: I love Alexander McQueen and Karl Lagerfeld. Karl Lagerfeld can do no wrong – he is just so classic – and Alexander McQueen took so many risks and had such an interesting vision and point of view. It’s a big cliché, but there’s a reason it’s cliché because they are the best, there’s no doubt about it. Everything I do I revert back to them, like, “What would someone like Alex or Karl do in this situation?”

YRB: What do you see yourself doing in five years?

Alana: I definitely see myself still designing this line, hopefully creating an empire – not to be too aspirational. Definitely breaking into different areas of the market, not just women’s wear, but menswear and shoes, handbags and [having] a whole presence in the fashion industry. I really want to be connected with my customer, really know what my customer wants. And have customers that have loyalty to the brand, where they know I’ll be coming out with something that they like.

YRB: Since you mentioned menswear, what kind of style do you look for in a guy?

Alana: I feel like every time I’m always attracted to different styles. As long as they have personal style and are confident in what they wear it shouldn’t matter what they really are wearing.

YRB: What’s your stance on men in shorts and flip-flops? New Yorkers tend to dislike, but coming from California do you agree or disagree?

Alana: I mean, that is California. I would be concerned if a guy was in L.A. when it was 100 degrees and wasn’t wearing shorts and flip-flops. There are certain rules; the jeans with the flip-flops are kind of weird.

YRB: Do you have some style advice for us?

Alana: Wear what you love and wear it with confidence. There really are no rules in fashion – just be yourself and let it show through. Dress for yourself.

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