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Katie Gallagher

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Debuting with an all-black collection could be considered safe, or risky. The industry loves the somber shade, but color attracts attention. New York designer Katie Gallagher was hoping for the former, but planning for the latter when she launched her eponymous womenswear label in S/S10. “At RISD (Rhode Island School of Design), I did my thesis collection in all black,” she explains from her small, efficient Chinatown studio. “Everyone I asked would say that it’s really scary to do that because people always want to see color, but I didn’t really care.” The result was skillfully tailored pieces—like leather and silk jackets and dresses—with romantic volume and involved details, such as ruffles and silver chains.

The designer, who interned for threeASFOUR and Anna Sui, and cites Comme des Garcons as her current inspiration, wraps the body in layers so that there are no side seams, a technique which she says will carry over into pieces for F/W10. For the next collection, consisting of eighteen pieces, Gallagher says she also plans to play with color. “This is my original inspiration,” she says, gesturing to a wall pinned with black and white sketches of quirky Lolita-esque Gothic girls wearing light, layered looks and a small painting dotted with creams and greys. “I usually start with drawings and then I do paintings for color. Instead of all black, this time I’m doing some whites, creams, greys, green and black…but mainly black again.”

Since the launch, buyers from boutiques such as I.T in Hong Kong and EVA New York, and editors from Vogue Italia, Interview and more have come calling. As it turn out, designing was the easy part. Gallagher, who produces the clothing herself out of her studio, noted, “For the debut, my boyfriend and I did everything ourselves; he was handling press and invites and I was making all the clothes. Coming up with money to produce all the clothes and the business side of it…design school doesn’t really teach you anything about it. I guess they don’t expect anyone to start doing their own thing right away. They expect you to work for Ralph Lauren or something and end there, I guess…”

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