From "Runway" Game to Fashion-World Fame PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eleni Snider   
Thursday, 28 January 2010 07:13

From "Runway" Game to Fashion-World Fame
This DAAP graduate's designs made heads turn as she fashioned her way to being runner-up on "Project Runway." Learn where she is now and how she continues to strive for success.

The "Project Runway" runner-up last season was none other than Althea Harper, 2008 graduate of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP). The 25-year-old fashionista went straight from her cap and gown to being a contestant on Lifetime’s reality fashion design show.


Since the last time Cincy Chic spoke with her for the Sept. 7 Fashion Week issue, America watched Harper design her way to Bryant Park for the "Project Runway" season finale in November. Now Harper has much more to say about her time on the show.


Her overall experience "was definitely positive," she says, and she attributes part of her growth as a designer to the challenges she faced on "Project Runway." Through the competition, Harper had the chance to learn more about herself and her designs with the viewers' likes and dislikes, and the criticism and compliments only have helped her develop her fashion identity. "It's good to get opinions in order to classify you as a designer," she says.


As for advice to future "Project Runway" contestants, Harper warns them to focus on their work and to expect more than just designing and crafting their clothing during the challenges. "It's not all about design. There are character tests within the competition as well," Harper says.


Even though Harper won the "silver medal" in the "Project Runway" competition, she was and still is "going for the gold" in her life goals. For Harper, "going for the gold" means "being happy in life and going for the best that you can be," she says. When hard times arise, she thinks that "believing in yourself is the greatest thing … [and to remember that] things take time."


And boy, has she kept to those inspiring words.


"I think I'm working toward my ultimate dream … going straight from college to ["Project Runway"] is more than I could have hoped for," Harper says. And while disappointment 020110FASHION2.jpgwas a natural feeling at the end of the show's sixth season, she now has been able to appreciate the positive aspects of not being the first-place winner. Now she doesn't have to be the poster child for the show, and she has more freedom to choose what she wants to do in her future, she says. This young designer holds her own in the fashion world as she currently juggles what amounts to two full-time jobs, as she likes to put it. First, she is working on designing her own clothing line, which will be available on her Web site this month. "I want to become a household name … I want to see people wear my pieces," Harper says.


She describes her line as "downtown chic meets glamour and feminine." She strives to have her designs fit normal women’s bodies because "proportions are important" to her, she says. Before Harper designed her new clothing line and her projects in the past, she always has been inspired from "all sorts of things — a poem, a place, everything," she says. And here's a little secret: Her new spring collection is influenced by modern and futuristic undertones.


Along with creating her own line, Harper is working alongside Tory Burch and her crew so that Harper can gain more experience with a famous, well-respected designer in the field. Harper aspires to model her business plan after Burch’s because she loves the price point, she says, and working with the fashion guru gives her credibility.


For Harper, her Christian Louboutin stilettos might take her to great heights, but her persistence and ambition set the sky as her limit.




Photos courtesy of Althea Harper

Eleni Snider -

Eleni Snider is Cincy Chic’s editorial intern. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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