Nilea Alexander is a designer getting major buzz in New York. A graduate of the Parsons School for Design she created her first collection in 2004, runs a vintage booth at the Brooklyn Flea Market called NileA P FleA, and has done freelance design work for Urban Outfitters.
She was recently featured as "Girl of the Month" on Urban Outfitters' blog and just finished her newest collection, Underground Love Story, which she described in her UO interview as "a dark and romantic line of clothing inspired by my personal vintage collection."
Nilea's work has been covered by Daily Candy, Women's Wear Daily, Daily News, and Metro News and last month's cover of Ready-Made magazine featured Underground Love Story.
BGLH: First a little background: Where are you from?
NA: I am originally from Atlanta GA. I moved to New York in 2002 soon after I finished college at Georgia State and currently live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
BGLH: So about the infamous Urban Outfitters interview... How did you get hooked up with that?
NA: I have done freelance artist design projects for Urban Outfitters in the past and they carried one of my collections a few years ago. I was excited to be chosen for their “Girl of the Month” blog interview.
BGLH: The Urban Outfitters interview raised your profile in the blogosphere. Were you expecting that?
NA: Not really to be honest. I know that Urban Outfitters Blog is huge and that they have a lot of readers but I never really expected for other bloggers to contact me from that article.
BGLH: Tell me about your designing! How did you get started and where are you at right now?
NA: I have been designing for well over 10 years now. I started in high school home economics class in which I learned how to sew and then began making prom and cocktail dresses for friends.
When I moved to New York and enrolled in a design program at Parsons I started designing lingerie. A few years later with a friend I was designing a remade vintage line that was eventually picked up by Urban Outfitters. Now I currently design my solo collection Underground Love Story.
BGLH: How would you describe your design aesthetic? And what inspired it?
NA: My current collection is called Underground Love Story, a dark and romantic collection, inspired by the turn of the century Victorian era. Ultra feminine with big sleeves, bows, and ruffles the pieces are whimsical and made to inspire that feeling.
BGLH: Where are your clothes sold?
NA: The website for the collection is www.undergroundlovestory.com. Currently the pieces from the lookbook are only sold wholesale. We are currently building a online retail webstore so that pieces can be sold individually. I am very excited about that and am planning a big launch for new store.
BGLH: When did you go natural and why?
NA: My hair has been natural since college and I just never went back. Its no big story actually, I had damaged it so much from over-processing that I really had no choice but to chop if off. It's just easier this way.
BGLH: How do you normally wear your hair?
NA: I change it up from time to time between an afro and a short box shape. I always keep the blond bleach stripe no matter what. I have had it for so long now I can not imagine myself without it.
BGLH: Where did you get the idea for the stripe?
NA: Gosh I really don't remember i feel like it just morphed into this. It started out as a dark brown patch..nothing special and then I lightened it to a dark honey blonde, then I lightened it again to a light blonde, and voila I started to bleach it.
BGLH: What do you like best about being natural?
NA: It's easy and it’s the hair that God gave me. I think that the blond patch has become a refection of me because it is how people have come to recognize me. I like that!
Thank you Nilea! You, your hair and your designs are awesome!
You can find Nilea's line here; http://www.undergroundlovestory.com/.
Her blog here; http://www.undergroundlovestory.blogspot.com/.
Her flea market booth here; http://www.myspace.com/nileapvintage
Also, Nilea will be doing a flea market this Sunday Oct 11th at Bembe in Williamsburg Brooklyn from 3 - 8 selling remade vintage pieces. Be sure to check it out! Tell her BGLH sent you ;)