How many times have you sat at your desk and wondered what you were doing sitting at a desk? Well, at 40, Julie Alarcon stopped asking herself that question and got up. She ditched her career in business, which had culminated at the Pittsburgh Zoo, and went back to school for fashion, which led to her company, Lialia.
She admittedly lives in, and loves, to create fantasy worlds—many of them around nature (enter Pittsburgh Zoo). “There’s a wild sea of imagination going on in my mind.”
And it shows in her newest designs, which take patterns inspired from crocodiles and hibiscus, and are then broken down into elegant, abstract shapes and colors. The hibiscus dress hugs the body in cotton and viscose blends while the crocodile one grazes a woman’s curves in silk charmeuse. She clearly approaches her designs as art work, which has worked both for and against her.
But when Joe Zee found her and put her on All On the Line, his fashion-rescue series, things weren’t looking so hot. Although she had sold her clothes to many boutiques and been recognized by Women’s Wear Daily as a designer to watch in 2008, her company was flailing. Her prices were sky-high, her sister and business partner left the business, and she was left with a company lost in the jungle.
Since the show, and after Nordstrom bought her clothes, she has brought down the price point. But she still designs for an older woman, or a woman with more experience. She uses fabrics that shape the body, without looking overdone. The horseshow seam she uses for a pair of pants “lift your butt without being tight.”
Her interesting use of seams is what caught Nordstrom’s attention, as well as other fashion-savvy eyes. Clean, clear, and elegant, like the woman she designs for.
“Even if you work out a lot and have a healthy lifestyle, you don’t look like you’re 20,” she says. “Your daughter should want to wear your clothes, but you shouldn’t wear hers.”