Today's BettyConfidential Shop star, Alison Mahoney of ARIA by alison, dishes on what inspires her, which celebs she'd love to see wear her one-of-a-kind accessories, and more!
-Lucia Peters, BettyConfidential.com
Alison Mahoney of ARIA by alison, sporting her Titania headband.
Alison Mahoney never intended to become a designer. A singer and actress by trade, she fell into design while killing time backstage. Little did she know that what began as a hobby would grow into something so amazing! ARIA by alison's one-of-a-kind knitwear and accessories brings a little bit of vintage-inspired glamor to your everyday wardrobe-and when we heard about Alison's line, we just HAD to bring them to you in our BettyConfidential Shop! What better way to live gorgeously than with these fabulous designs, especially with the fall/winter season fast approaching?
We sat down with Alison to chat about what inspires her, which celebrities she'd love to dress, and more!
BettyConfidential: How did you become a designer?
Alison Mahoney: I guess you could say I became one by accident. I'm primarily a singer/actress and when I was backstage at one show, waiting to make my entrance, I was crocheting holiday gifts. My fellow cast members and crew encouraged me to sell them by placing orders for my vintage-inspired creations themselves. Today, each new hat design is inspired by the musical in which I am performing in at the time I first make it.
BC: Can you tell us a little about the history of ARIA by alison?
AM: ARIA by alison is a vintage-inspired accessories company that started as a little hobby, and through luck, passion, and some great national magazine press, it has grown each year. Each piece of the one-of-a-kind collection is handcrafted and designed by me. The accessories are named after influential operas and famous roles, as well as musical theater characters and songs.
BC: You have a bridal line as well. Time for a chicken-and-egg question: Which came first, your knitwear line or your bridal line? How did the one lead to the other?
AM: The bridal line came after my knitwear line. I started designing headbands and they became wildly popular with young, hip brides who were looking for something a little different. It was also around that time that I started to notice there was a move towards classic, vintage, 1940s-style bridal head pieces, while bridesmaids and guests were gravitating toward wearing fascinators (and this was two years before the Royal Wedding!). Since I love vintage fashion and I adore classic glamour, I thought, what a great opportunity to start making veils and fascinators. Early on some bridal editors saw my pieces (and wore them for their weddings!), so I've been featured in the magazines, which has given me some great national visibility.
BC: What was it about design that drew you to it?
AM: I love clothes. I love drama. I love fabulousness. I love quality. I love anything that seems to have a vintage Bettina to it. And many times I can't find that all in a single piece. If I am inspired or have a vision of something I want, I make it. And if I don't know how to make it, I teach myself.
Clockwise from left: ARIA by alison's Callas cloche, Cherubino cap, and Boheme beret.
BC: What do your designs mean to you?
AM: Most of my designs are inspired by an experience or a person. So every time I see these designs I am reminded of the specific place in time. It's also great to see how they evolve and build into one another.
BC: Do you have a favorite item or design?
AM: In my knitwear line, I love the Violetta Capelet. It's so classically beautiful, ethereal and understated and works with any outfit. I also love the Boheme beret. It's the perfect little slouchy beret with a little interesting pizzazz, keeps your head warm, and doesn't mess up your hair. What more could you want?
It's harder to pick a favorite in my bridal line, since each is an individual piece, but I love the feather sashes, like the Ariadne feather and rhinestone silk sash. They not only work on brides, but they also look great on a cocktail dress. One time Jenna Lyons said she loved a feather fascinator of mine, Papagena, and I almost fainted. It was the best compliment ever!
BC: Have you ever created something and ended up not liking it?
AM: Oh, all the time! It's just that you won't see it. If I'm inspired I'll try to make anything, and on a first try it can be a hot mess. Or I miscalculate as I am making up the pattern and the hat is too small or looks crazy, but in those mistakes come the greatest inspirations. Many of my disasters have turned into total triumphs.
BC: Where do you find your inspiration?
AM: I mostly find inspiration in 1940s fashion and music. I am a classically trained opera singer, so I often hear something that inspires me to create a hat or head piece that is evocative of that song, production, or a specific singer. But sometimes I can look at a lollipop and it will inspire me to make something.
BC: If you could have any celebrity, living or dead wear your stuff, who would it be?
AM: For knitwear: Zooey Dechanel. For bridal: Grace Kelly. For anything: Audrey Hepburn.
Snag some of Alison's fantastic designs for yourself over at BettyConfidential Shop!
Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential's associate editor.
Read More at BettyConfidential.com
Geek Out: 12 Book-Themed Accessories for Fall
Live Gorgeously With BettyConfidential Shop, Launching on September 4th!
'American Idol' Lee DeWyze + Jonna Walsh Share Their Vintage-Style Wedding Pics
How to Wear Brightly Colored Accessories
Hot Links! Is That A Vintage Ad In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Totally Crazy?