Alexandria Kakoules

Editor's note: Through this week, Fashionably Cleveland is paying homage to up-and-coming local designers. Each story subject is a graduating senior at Kent State University, and each story is written by another KSU student. Keep an eye out for these emerging fashion designers - you'll surely be hearing more about them in the future.

Alexandria Kakoules has always been captivated by the fashion industry. As a child growing-up in Canton, Ohio, her family’s wedding dress shop essentially became her very own playground. It was there where she became exposed to a world of creativity and beauty, one where the atmosphere was simply magical. Women of all ages were transformed into royalty before her very eyes.

As she grew, her attraction towards fashion expanded. No longer was it solely based on looks, but rather the element of transformation. She began re-inventing her wardrobe and imitating what she saw other people wearing. It was clear that she had an eye for style. 

Upon her high school graduation, nobody was surprised to hear that Alexandria would be attending one of the country’s most prestigious design schools, Kent State University, in the fall of 2006. Now, nearly four years later, all of her late night sewing sessions and nonstop pattern making paid off as she presented her senior collection to the public in Kent’s Annual Spring Fashion Show Event.

I had the honor of meeting the young designer and was able to interview her about her upcoming collection, aspirations, and her view on the industry. 

What do you enjoy most about designing clothes?
Creating and re-inventing beautiful clothes for women to love and feel good in is my main goal as a designer. I love how clothes can transform you and give you the illusion of playing dress up! I mean, that’s all fashion really is - one big game of dress up.

That’s so true! Is there anyone in the industry, past or present that you look up to?
I find many people inspiring in and out if the fashion industry. There isn’t one person I look up to; I try to find good and inspiring qualities in all walks of life.

That’s great, so what do you find most challenging about the industry?
Definitely criticism - it can be a very hard bullet to bite. Not everyone is going to love what you design, but not everyone is going to hate it either. Finding the balance and confidence in your personal design style is what will help you overcome and learn from the criticism. 

Now that your senior year is wrapping up, how does it feel to have created your very own collection?
It’s amazing, overwhelming and exhilarating … senior year has been a whirlwind of emotions, but now that it’s finished, I only feel a sense of accomplishment.

Your collection is titled, “The Likeliness of Unlikelihood." How did you come up with the name, and how would you sum up the overall theme?
The name came about because at first glance my collection may appear to be bridal, but it’s not. I did use all cottons, and my collection is entirely white, but that doesn’t mean its bridal. I think it’s fresh, fun and unexpected! My inspirations for these garments came from experiences, memories and photographs I took while I was in Greece last summer with my family. While I was there I was able to spend time in Athens, Paros, Samos, Santorini, Crete, Chios and Cyprus. The color inspiration came mostly from Santorini, because there were so many white buildings and blue rooftops there. Greece has such a simple, carefree atmosphere and I wanted to translate that into my collection.

It sounds like you were in the perfect place to draw inspiration from. I’m sure your collection was no easy task to complete; roughly how many hours did you spend on it? 
On average, I’d say I spent about 80 hours on each look. In total, I spent approximately 320 hours on the entire collection, which includes the hours I spent designing each dress, constructing the individual patterns, completing test garments, otherwise known as muslins, making correcting, and sewing together the final looks using the cotton fabric I selected. 

Wow, that’s almost two full weeks worth of work! Do you have a favorite piece?
Oh boy, I would wear them all!

I love that you’re so enthusiastic about your collection! What are your plans for after graduation; do you see yourself leaving Ohio?
Well, I’m newly engaged, so eventually my fiancé and I plan on moving to wherever I find a job. We want to be married before we actually relocate. My dream job is to be a fashion designer. In school, I have learned that I really enjoy pattern making, but working anywhere within the design industry would make me very happy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010