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Shooting Joe Zee's Julia

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I met Julia Alarcon a few months ago. In an SUV carrying Richie Rich, myself and Keri Ingvarsson to a Gen Art function. On the way, we got pulled over by a cop for having tinted driver's windows. He insisted it was due to being in a VIP car -- a ticket was issued anyway. In that time we talked about photography, fashion and how she wasn't thrilled with her current LookBook. She talked with excitement and a touch of apprehension about being on reality TV.

We reconvened to shoot the pictures below, in a dusty SoHo basement; we pulled all our ideas and resources. I lost an assistant because I couldn't pay them enough; the thought of carrying massive amounts of photo equipment terrified them. It terrifies me as well.

This is the not-so-glamorous part of fashion. The unseen moments. The pattern makers and seamstresses, who often go unrecognized in our industry, that's what All On The Line myopically focused on. With Joe Zee guiding people through the process. Watching horrible business decision being made. I can't believe that someone consciously pulled out of stores that were actually selling their clothes. That one contestant didn't work 24 hours a day to get their collection into Bergdorf Goodman and seemingly shrugged off a golden opportunity.

Julia focuses on making great clothes for working women; the construction and tailoring is impeccable and she shares pattern makers with some of the best designers in the industry. But she's trying to get noticed and find her footing in the landscape. She's focused largely on production and attention to detail, this is the first time she's focusing on her brand.

And brand is that empty space between cost, margin and profit. I will be the first to admit that a McQueen clutch, valued and sold at $2,000, because it is a McQueen clutch, has a halo around it. McQueen is now fashion's James Dean & Norma Jean.

Izzy from Muse was quite amazing. The other girl didn't quite make the LookBook, she had horrible attitude and looked like a deer caught in headlights. Izzy could stand a high-pressure shoot. Girl Two, not so much. Julia opted not to use her in the final publication. My stylist Joel Yapching, was AMAZING!!!!

All On the Line, is a strange miss. Joe Zee tries to guide his flock through fashion's choppy landscape, but oddly his advice is singular and monotone. In one episode, I feel like the Scoop buyers picked two dresses just because they felt like they needed to. Two dresses does not a store consist of. The other buyers were not kind. After watching the series, I wanted these designers to win. They didn't. I don't know if they're in a better place because of their time on the show.

Joe Zee seems to consistently encourage his brood to bring down the price of garments. Yet, many luxury brands are doing just fine at a much higher price point. It's the mid-range that's the challenge. So in essence he's asking them to pick, fast fashion or tailoring and detail. Each atelier had their challenges, but there wasn't a unique strategy for each house. He doesn't seem to be working with the designer's own esthetic or ideal, strengths & weaknesses.

Julia doesn't want to be involved with fast-fashion, and that's fine. She's a little cheaper than some of Jones Apparel brands at $650 for a full look. That's quite good. The clothes are perfectly made and the attention to detail is striking. The clothes look like luxury and any girl wanting a $5,000 garment who can't buy one, would be ecstatic for one of her garments.

Julia's challenge is not price, it's adhering to fashion's time-line. She didn't show the week before New York Fashion Week because the show got in the way. We rushed everything. I know designers love to do things on the fly and on a whim. But the ones who hang in there, season after season, are methodical. Julia doesn't need help with production; she needs help attracting decision makers in fashion and getting them excited about her work.

While Joe Zee tries his best to fill the shoes of Gunn, he falls flat.

The pictures turned out great... now she needs to be in stores. Buyers, buy her. Serious. Buy her. Next season, when you have money, and haven't blown your budget in Paris, stop by. I guess this review means I won't be shooting for Elle anytime soon. On that note, I just need to shrug.

To see more of the LookBook go to Julia's site.

Lialia by Julia Alarcon
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