"Alabama, Inc" features NY based fashion designer from Tuscaloosa

Oct 15, 2013

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the television program about business called "Alabama, Inc." The show is going statewide on your local Alabama Public Television station. This week's episode features my profile of University of Alabama graduate, and New York based fashion designer, Amanda Perna.

You can never been too rich or too thin, right? New York fashion designer, and University of Alabama graduate, Amanda Perna could make an argument on at least one of those ideas. While preparing for a fashion show at the Ferguson Center at the Tuscaloosa campus, she was concerned that some of her models were too thin. Health wasn’t the issue, rather it was getting the right fit. Designers typically bring one of each type of outfit for a fashion show, and in a standard size. The challenge is that the model has to fit the dress, rather than having the dress fit the model. So, having student models on the skinny side prompted the need for extra pins and stitching. Perna took it in stride. “You’ll see girls who are so thin, you can’t believe they’re walking. Even on the streets of New York, you’re like…’you’re eight feet tall and one hundred pounds, how is that possible? I guess it’s the nature of the business.” The fashion show was a charity event, with a portion of the ticket sales going to Rebuild Tuscaloosa, a local effort to help victims of the tornadoes that struck on April 27, 2011. The collection from the House of Perna included colors ranging from black to gray to crimson. And, there were items in black and white houndstooth. Perna insists it’s not because of Tuscaloosa’s connection to coach Bear Bryant and his famous houndstooth hat. New York designers are warming up to houndstooth, and the distinctive pattern can be seen on display in shops all along Madison Avenue. Perna says it wasn’t always like that. “I remember when I first moved to New York, no one understood it (houndstooth,) says Perna. “It was considered old fashioned, no one wanted to go there. Now, I don’t know a single brand from the bottom to the top who’s not doing houndstooth.” Perna took more than houndstooth with her after graduating from the University of Alabama. She worked in New York for designer Calvin Klein, and did a brief stint on the reality TV show “Project Runway” before establishing her own brand. Perna began her college career in Tuscaloosa studying psychology before a single sewing class prompted her to pursue fashion design as a career. She admits she does use her psychology training when dealing with others in the industry. “One minute they’re happy and the next they’re cussing you out, and you’re wondering ‘where did that come from?’ says Perna. “So, the psychology definitely helped.” Pat will discuss Perna’s life in the world of fashion design, how her parents’ taste in clothes influenced her, and what one day on “Project Runway” did for her career. Be sure to tune in for Alabama, Inc. Wednesday night at 10 pm on your local Alabama Public Television station.