Truly Alvarenga takes Pink Elephants Designs from the winning podium at Pins and Needles to a showcase at Saint Louis Fashion Week.
When Nashville native Truly Alvarenga packed up her most recent collection and hit the road for St. Louis in August, she had no idea that her unique selection of custom-made garments would be presented at Saint Louis Fashion Week just two months later. The local debut of her made-to-order line, Pink Elephants Designs, took place during the Pins and Needles designer competition, where her handcrafted creations impressed the roster of judges who unanimously agreed that Alvarenga’s designs were worthy of the win.
Unlike most traditional designers, Alvarenga’s approach to fashion is rooted in her desire to create one-of-a-kind stage wear—particularly for developing performers. “It’s a thrilling challenge to make clothing that looks cool and unique but can survive onstage,” the designer explains. “I have a lot of artistic freedom and exposure, but the pieces still have to function as clothing.”
Capturing the moment while keeping her designs wearable is Alvarenga’s specialty. Inspired by ethereal muses such as children’s fairy tales from the likes of Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, her garments effortlessly combine whimsy and ready-to-wear, creating a unique middle ground between runway and street.
Take her collection from Pins and Needles, for example. Alvarenga took her affinity for both performance and rock ‘n’ roll and added juxtaposing elements that included mix-and-match fabrics, modern trends and shapes from medieval garb. The result was a well-crafted collection of both avant-garde and ready-to-wear pieces that embodied the uncommon aspects of her brand without straying too far off the beaten path. Highlights included a shimmery ivory take on the classic moto jacket and a tangerine-hued velveteen gown that was equal parts Queen Anne and Rihanna.
The designer developed her knack for sewing and dark, fairytale-inspired aesthetic throughout her Nashville upbringing. Although she currently resides in the small town of Enfield, NH, the traditional skills she honed early on have assisted in the budding success of Pink Elephants Designs.
Although Alvarenga has been sewing since childhood, her passion for fashion didn’t develop until she went off to college. She has since continued to hone her skills and is committed to her continued development as an emerging designer. “I am trying to keep on my trek—the slow, steady growth I’ve been working on—doing every show I can, getting my clothes on stages and dressing the coolest people I can find,” says Alvarenga of her current tactics. So far, her plan has worked. Her designs have made onstage wardrobe appearances for performance artists such as Candi Carpenter, and she has outfitted special guests of the president’s inaugural ball and various White House parties.
Now on the heels of STLFW, Alvarenga plans to keep the momentum going by showcasing her varied design skills while staying true to her dark and beautiful aesthetic.
Photos by Bill Brown, courtesy of Pink Elephants Designs.