Annabelle by Anna McCraney
In the summer of 2009, Anna McCraney had toiled her way through Bravo’s brand new fashion design competition, “The Fashion Show”, hosted by Isaac Mizrahi, and found herself walking away with a 125K prize and bragging rights to reality TV survival and domination. When asked if she was worried that the fashion industry wouldn’t take her seriously because she had participated, she laughed and said, “It’s fashion, it’s not supposed to be serious!” And that is just it, Anna wants to have fun, and she wants to do it for a living. She was in it for the money.
What the half-million viewers didn’t know when they ultimately decided her fate as winner, was that the effortless and flattering, bold and flirty designs that solidified her win, are rooted in her past and present, successes and failures. “I can throw a party, tell a story, and make a dress … that much I know.” Her designs incorporate history, art, and music, three things she believes hit an emotional chord for people, and she translates them to her clothes through fabric, color, and smart, detail driven design. Her connections to the art world through her time at the Rhode Island School of Design, collaborations with DIY collectives like Fort Thunder and Space 1026, and cutting edge printshops and galleries such as Forth Estate and Halsey McKay, keep her inspired by the world of fine art, that in her eyes, perhaps, has a more pure connection to the self. On the flipside, her professional life, spent as a teacher, buyer, sales rep, and designer for brands like Dolce Vita, give her that connection to the girl she designs for that every designer must have. In her life before Bravo, Anna was a dive bar debutante in downtown New York and Brooklyn. She designed collections as homage to the B-52’s and had her models assume wrestling personas and battle each other. Versatility, malleability, and transformation in the designs and the woman the wears them inform her line, and always have.
The Annabelle line is made in New York, and Anna is passionate about being socially responsible as well keeping a watchful eye on the quality of her product. Even though it is locally produced, and she uses natural fibers like silk and cotton that tend to be more expensive, she is mindful that the end retail price stay reasonable. By producing small run, limited edition designs and selling them straight to her customer, she cuts out the middle-man, and is able to give her customer high-quality fabric and construction, made in the United States, at prices ranging for $90 to $300. Who says having expensive taste has to be expensive?
Most of all, Anna has not forgotten her roots in the South, in color and culture, narrative and nuance, education and celebration, and in the nature and the nurturing of a line of clothing that will inspire us to notice not the dress, but the girl. www.annabellenyc.com