Fashion Week 2012 Feature: Amanda Perna

In view of the fact that it is New York Fashion Week, I thought it apropos that I feature an emerging designer who hopes to be — and if I have anything to say about it will be — at NYFW in the next five years. I first met Amanda Perna at her Resort/Spring Line Launch party at Parlor in July, teamed with Rhea Kulcsar Jewelry Collection. Very sweet, beautiful, and cunning, I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of her work in the decades to come. Her image: South Florida meets New York City. That chic edginess mixed with the color of palm trees, blue seas, and beaches. Her line: The House of Perna, available for purchase on her website (here) as soon as November 2012, and soon in boutiques up the Eastern Seaboard!

A little more about Ms. Perna and her new line:

From where do you pull your inspiration for the House of Perna as a brand? For the Resort/Spring 2013 Line?
I take my inspiration [For The House of Perna as a brand, ] from the world around me, and my experiences. For the Resort/Spring line I was very much inspired by a merging of two of my favorite places- NYC and Miami. I was inspired by the structure and sophistication of NYC with the free spirited vibrancy of Miami. I am very inspired by colors, I was inspired by the softer art deco colors of miami mixed with the neon, bright lights of Times Square.

Who is the House of Perna consumer?
The average House of Perna customer is a woman who loves beauty, luxury, and art. She appreciates quality and she loves to stand out in a crowd. She is very detail oriented and is excited by details that make a garment unique.

If I remember correctly, you are not the only artist in your family – your cousin manipulates photographs. With such an artistic home environment, how did you decide that fashion was your medium?
You are correct! I have one cousin Chad who is an artist, another, Michael (whom you met at the party), is a photographer. My mom is a visual merchandiser, two of my aunts are interior designers, and my grandfather was an unbelievable painter. I actually started out in performing arts. I studied dance, music, and acting for many years. I actually dreamed of moving to NYC to do musical theatre. I discovered my love of fashion in college. I always loved fashion, and was always putting together interesting outfits and making clothes as a child, but really discovered that it was the career for me while at The University of Alabama.

You were a contestant on Season 9 of Project Runway. How did that influence your process as a designer?
Project Runway taught me the importance of staying true to myself as a designer, but also learning how to translate it into something that other people understand as well.

All of your pieces are handmade in New York City, which is fantastic, and syncs well with Rhea Kulcsar’s jewelry collection, which is also sourced in NY. How did that pairing come about, and is it a partnership you see growing in the future?
I actually met Rhea while working at Calvin Klein, and we clicked immediately. I love her aesthetic and the fact that she also believed in high quality, unique pieces. I was invited to show my line at Style Week Resort in Miami, and immediately thought to ask her if she would be interested in designing the jewelry for the line. I felt she could create the frosting on the cake so to speak, and help me add the finishing touches of the looks that would accentuate not compete with the clothing.

What’s next for House of Perna? Accessories? Footwear?
Eventually I would love to expand into becoming a whole lifestyle brand. I would love to do children’s wear, menswear, accessories, footwear and even housewares (I can never find sheets that are interesting enough prints for me). For now I am focusing on building a successful womenswear brand and then once it is to the point where it is ready to expand, to start expanding.

We all have mentors, idols, people we look up to. Who has influenced you the most?
I have so many people who have influenced me in so many ways. My family has been a huge influence on me. I have two of the most hard-working, supportive parents in the world who have helped me in more ways than I can begin to describe. In terms of mentors, all of my professors at The University of Alabama taught me so much and helped me to realize my capabilities. More specifically, Dr. Sue Parker. She pushed me to come to NYC, and has offered so much support and guidance about business, fashion, and life in general. My fashion idol is by far Christian Lacroix. I love his work, and that he has always stayed true to his aesthetic and created fashion that truly is wearable art.

A huge thank you to Amanda Perna for her time and insight.

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