“I really wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to be a serious girl, who people thought was smart and had a good CV… But then I’m sitting there this week, and I’m cutting out paper dolls, and I’m gluing them, and I’m doing what my three year old was doing in school that day, and I’m like: I don’t want to be serious! This is awesome! This is exactly what I should be doing!”
This is April Pride Allison, the interior designer turned fashion designer known simply as April Pride, maker of The Dress. We’re sitting in her kitchen at her home in Madison Valley. The classic interior is dressed with a hint of modern—clean lines, and complete with pops of a few bold hues—much like the designer herself. With a degree from the University of Virginia’s Architecture School followed by a graduate degree from Parsons, it’s only fitting that Pride’s home is so thoughtfully crafted. It’s stunning, certainly; her designer taste obvious. But it’s also warm, accessible, the kind of chic that keeps comfort in mind. And with two small boys running about, it’s not surprising that April managed to pair the pretty with the practical. As we sip our warm beverages—coffee for me, tea for her—she dismisses their toys: a tiny, plastic red piano to my right and a chalkboard easel on my left with a laugh.
The designer is glamorous in a most accessible way. It’s Saturday morning, and she is swathed in a deep navy silk dress of her own design, lips painted a vivid red. Though her daily attire typically consists of black Acne jeans and her husband’s white button down, either look suits her flawlessly. She’s as much old Hollywood glam as she is tomboy, and her clever designs embody both ends of the spectrum with a rare fluidity.
The second installment of her collection, the navy sheath she wore, has a drape that is both casual and sexy. Inspired by a kimono top and kaftan bottom, April Pride tends to find her muse in the simple lines of style’s past. Her first piece, too, was inspired by a vintage piece gifted to her by her mother-in-law. Known simply as The Dress, this almost mythical creation fit the gifter (5’3”) as well as it did the giftee (5’10”). After wearing the original incarnation of The Dress for years, she wound up with five identical custom dresses that she had made for herself during a trip to Shanghai.
“I went to an event after I got back and I sold the dress off my back,” she recounted. This uninhibited, spontaneous enthusiasm is not uncharacteristic of Pride, and it marked the beginning of an idea and a change in her course. At the time, she owned and operated a successful interior design firm in Seattle. “My plan for fall 2012 was sell the company and figure out how to have these dresses made in Seattle, and figure out if anyone wants to buy them.”
Her first year has proven successful, as April Pride’s work has been championed by various heavy hitters in Seattle fashion, at trunk shows and pop-up shops, and through some serious collaborations. (More to come on the partnership front over the next few weeks!) She has also been fortunate to cultivate local partners in the early stages of their own forays into fashion in Seattle.
“I feel like we’re in the freshman class,” Pride says, “and people are wondering if we’re able to make the grade.”
Having seen round two with my own eyes, April’s future in fashion seems secure. She has successfully navigated the delicacies of style and practicality, likely because she does so with ease in her life. While I think she might scoff at being labeled glamorous, hers is a glamor that that is as immediately apparent as it is subtle. I had the chance to ask her a few questions about style and her approach to fashion.
The Style Fold: Who or what—in terms of culture, era, etc—defines your personal style?
April Pride: A grandmother from the 1960s meets Kate Jackson a la Charlie’s Angels meets Alison Mosshart.
SF: When you get dressed, do you follow a formula of some kind or is it more of an intuitive decision?
AP: Less is more. Stick to what you know.
SF: Do you have any fashion rules that you abide by?
AP: Proportion. It is the only rule that when broken makes the look suffer. (I am assuming the socks with Teva people are not reading this and I don’t need to address the basics.)
SF: Does Form follow Function in terms of your style? If so, how?
AP: In Seattle. With kids. Absolutely. Well, I kept wearing the same dress….
SF: At what point did you become conscious of your style? Talk about that decision, some of the transitions, and how it ultimately affected how you present yourself today.
AP: Third grade—Madonna-inspired plastic bracelets. My dad limited me to 25 per arm. I would obsess over color combinations, monochromatic black or glow-in-the-dark. I still wear a lot of wrist armor, and obsess over how they all work together. I just realized that has been consistent all these year. Hmmm. Better the bracelets than the mullet.
SF: What is one item that you own that most sums up your style?
AP: A black jade band that was an eighth anniversary gift from my husband. Black paired with a wedding band just seems, well, like a fuck-you to tradition. Style on one’s own terms.
SF: Name one style icon and describe what characteristics about him or her captivate you.
AP: David Bowie. He. Went. For. It.
SF: Who is the first person that defined “it-ness” for you? Who is that person now?
AP: Melissa Sagemiller. She was a year older than me at university. Great style…like, not-University-of-Virginia style. She was confident with all the guys. Clearly, she knew how to hang out. And look amazing. Oh, and she went on to act and star in films with Robert Redford. You know it when you see it.
Today—my closest friend kept talking about this girl in San Francisco who she thought I would love for her style, attitude. She was featured in the Ryan Hemsworth video for “Against a Wall.” Claire Bargout is her name. She moved to Toronto from San Francisco, but I still hope to meet her. Especially if she holds up to the flirty, tomboy, street girl in the video. At the moment, Claire is “it” for me.
SF: What are some of your more unusual style icons? Those that might not be obvious…
AP: Anne Bancroft’s Miss Havisham
SF: Any trends you wish you would have avoided in your younger years? How did those choices, although they may not have been good ones, impact on your style now?
AP: College happened. A friend from university would say it takes just as long to dress up as it does to dress down. Then look at me and smile. She had this great southern accent and a dimple so she got away with saying things like that.
That thinking guides my label: Style for a life dressed up and dressed down. Dress well for both.
You can see The Dress and more from April pride on her Web site, aprilpride.com.
Photography by Alexcia DeVasquez