Designer Allison Fern Clausius Discovers Her True Passion

Photographer: Daniel Featherstone

Photographer: Daniel Featherstone

I can imagine myself as a designer with different collections each season- from classic to avant garde.
— Allison Clausius

We had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Clausius, a fashion designer at FIT. She explains why accepting her true calling was the most exciting decision she has ever made.


-What can you tell us about yourself as a designer and student in a brief statement?

I am an artist. I follow my heart to lead me to my product and my next adventure in life - and I never ever give up when pursuing my dreams.

-What is your typical day when running & creating a new set of designs like yours?

Creating a new set of designs can be quite stressful because there is always a tight deadline. In order to put myself in a state of creativity, I go back to my roots as a violinist. Music is one of the most important parts of my process. With every collection, I create a new playlist of pieces that reflect the concept I have chosen for my collection. Once I make the playlist, I visit Bergdorf’s and do online research. When I get home I turn on the music and start to draw. This is how my collections are born.

-How did you approach the business side of fashion when you first started?

One of the major business aspects I have focused on from the beginning is how best to photograph my pieces and convey a story through a series of photos to relate with the consumer. I model my own pieces and have been lucky to collaborate with a few very talented photographers. To present these stories of my work, I developed a magazine last summer. I think I may continue to do this as I start my business and brand name.


-Did school take away from you ever wanting to explore & approach various people to invest in your product?

Of course. I love FIT, but with every school, as a student you rarely have enough time to pursue everything. In high school I created a solar panel dress that charges cells phones, to present at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The style was inspired by Lady Gaga, whom I hoped to reach out to about it my first year in NYC. Unfortunately with school, I just did not have time to pursue it. I’m not too concerned about it, but in the future when it comes time to look for people to invest- I will make it happen, no matter how much is going on at school.

-Were there any setbacks to getting started on a new design? How did you overcome that?

Yes. Often times it takes awhile to get into that place where I can begin to come up with ideas. Sometimes, I have to force myself to stop thinking so much and just design. Also, I have to accept what comes out of my head and know that not every collection will be my best- as much as I might want it to be. This helps take a little pressure off of myself and allows me to design with a clearer mind.

-How would you describe yourself as a person & artist?

As an artist, I am multifaceted. I play violin, do photography, graphic design, drawing, painting, fashion design, and I write. As a person, I am a perfectionist and analytical thinker, as well as a dreamer.

-What made you so interested in becoming a fashion designer?

Most of my life, I wanted to attend MIT to pursue Environmental Science, but after a few internships, I realized that my life was headed toward the arts, and fashion worked its way in. I found that fashion design would allow me to combine all of my passions: French, fashion, science research, art, and travel. It was a perfect fit and I honestly couldn’t be happier in a different field.

-Do you have a favorite designer who inspires you? Why is that?

My favorite designer is Christian Dior (but inevitably that also includes the illustrious John Galliano). I love the way he feminized the woman and created such elegance. As a society we have become way too casual. It is my goal to inspire people to dream about fashion the way Dior made women dream about fashion, and inspire them to start to dress up again each day.

-What story are you trying to covey through your designs?

Individual pieces of mine don’t always have a story behind them, but each collection of mine tells a different story, and they are often personal. Whether it’s creating a fantasy collection that creates a dream-like fashion world, or a collection revolving around a social issue, each collection is different and each reflects something that has touched my life.

-Tell me about your latest collection. What was your vision when you created it or if you're still in the process of creating it?

My latest collection is part of my graduation project. I was to find inspiration in the Stibbert Museum, revolving around the idea of finding darkness in the light. In the museum I drew inspiration from the deteriorating Renaissance textiles that covered the horses and knights on display. I developed this concept further by alluding it to a woman struggling with an eating disorder. Such a beautiful, bright woman can fall apart like an old textile, but remain beautiful, regardless of the stress it is causing her mind and body. However, she can corrode to nothing, like the fabrics, if she does not stop to take care of herself. The second collection that I am working on now is about the process of healing this broken woman and seeing her become herself again. I am very excited to continue with this second part of the project.

-If you could showcase your designs anywhere in the world, where would you start and why?

This is a hard question for me- it’s a tie between New York and Paris. I think New York first, because I would feel more comfortable contacting and communicating with media sources in English. Paris will come a little later…

-Who excites you the most (Celebrity) & why?

Audrey Hepburn excites me the most because of her incredible style and elegance.

-How is your brand different from any other designer brands?

My brand is still developing of course, since I’m in school, but I find my work different from other brands because my top priority is creating art and beauty. High quality construction and fabric selection is extremely important in this, as well as designing what my heart leads me to make to share with other people, instead of following trends. I can imagine myself as a designer with different collections each season- from classic to avant garde. I want to surprise people and make them feel something. I want to show them something that’s different and innovative.

-What has FIT taught you since you have been there that you will never forget?

FIT has taught me that there is a place for every type of business and artist in the world, you just have to work to build your own place in it.

-Have you established a brand name yet? If so, we would like to know about it.

Yes! My brand name is FERN- this is my middle name (and my nickname). It was my grandfather’s last name. He was a very important person in my life and I wish to honor him in my work.

-What are your world-dominating goals?

Hmmmm…  I have a quite a few- I don’t know if I have enough time in my life to achieve them all, but here you go: 1.) Become Creative Director for Christian Dior 2.) Develop my own atelier in Paris 3.) Work as a Creative Director at Large of Vogue or CR Fashion Book 4.) Become a costume director for a Hollywood film. Lofty goals, but I’m not just a dreamer.


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