Meet the South’s Next Fashion Star

March 8, 2013 | By Caroline McKenzie | Comments (0)
Photo Courtesy of Pearl Southern Couture

Photo Courtesy of Pearl Southern Couture

Confession: We love a good reality show competition. Especially when it showcases a topic we hold dear such as music, food, or fashion. Throw in a charming contestant from the South to root for and we’re hooked.

Enter tonight’s Season 2 premiere of NBC’s Fashion Star. Judged by style-setters/designers Nicole Richie, John Varvatos and Texan Jessica Simpson, the series made a splash last season when aspiring fashion designers vied for real-life product placement at mega-retailers such as Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The high-pressure competition is back for a sophomore run and this time three Southern label’s Hunter Dixon, Crowned Bird and Pearl Southern Couture will be making a bid for the top prize. We caught up with Pearl Southern Couture designer and Dallas, Texas native Amber Perley (how’s that for darling moniker?)  before her big television premiere to find out about this rising Southern star’s clothing line and experience on the show.

What led you to launch Pearl Southern Couture?
 After graduating from Louisiana State University with a degree in apparel design I moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion. It was while I was living and working in New York that I started to miss the deep South and the wonderful people and its rich culture and traditions I had come to love. I was inspired to create a Southern dress line that reflected that lifestyle and told a “Southern” story; each collection and each piece is inspired by a specific southern city or person. I wanted bring that Southern lifestyle to customers no matter where they lived.

How have your Southern roots influenced your fashion design?
Growing up in the South you’re not afraid of color or a short hemline! I think that is definitely reflected in my collections. I also keep the heat in mind when designing since harsh winters are few and far between. I use breathable fabrics–linens, cottons, chiffons and lace–that have movement. My Southern roots go into full effect when I ask myself, can my customer wear the same dress with heels to a luncheon and with cowboy boots to a tailgate?

Why did you apply for Fashion Star?
I applied for Fashion Star thanks to heavy encouragement from friends and family. After watching the first season, I appreciated and respected the entire concept of show. It very accurately portrays the way the fashion industry works, but under much more stressful circumstances! Fashion Star shows the world that being a designer entails much more than just sketching. You are running a company. You are designing to sell!

What surprised you most about participating in show?
Being on Fashion Star was such a surreal and once in a lifetime experience. The new Fashion Star design space is amazing! Each designer had their own work station, mannequin, and production team. It was every designer’s dream. The new runway is also very cool–you’ll have to check it out!

Did you receive any words of wisdom from fellow Texan Jessica Simpson? I received invaluable advice from all the Fashion Star mentors. I can’t say much about what happens on the show, but I will say that Jessica was a huge advocate emphasizing a garment’s fit and color. My lips are sealed on everything else!

What’s next for you and Pearl Southern Couture?
The future is bright for Pearl! As the company grows I hope to hire more help. (I receive so many wonderful resumes from aspiring Southern designers every week.) My goal is to continue to expand Pearl Southern Couture and make it available to every customer who wants a piece of the South in her closet!

Fashion Star premieres tonight at 8 PM EST on NBC. For more information on Amber and the other Fashion Star designers visit here.

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