Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Keisha Allen Wins Helen G's Design a Dress

Published:Monday | February 6, 2017 | 2:00 AMKimberly Goodall
Melissa Tate looks lovely in this hand-beaded trumpet dress by House of Clay's Crystal Duchess wedding design.
Keisha Allen (right) receives the winning hug and cheque from Helen Graham of Helen G’s as model Deidre-Ann Thompson looks on in happiness.
A proud Thompson poses in the winning dress.
The hearts behind House of Clay, Kavan and Keisha Allen.
Helen G's Design A Dress winner, Keisha Allen.
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After competing against 17 designs, Keisha Allen of House of Clay captured the hearts of many and won the title of Helen G's Design a Dress competition on January 29.

Growing up in St Catherine, the fashion creative wanted to become a paediatrician, but after her many doll clothes designs and creations, her parents saw her passion for fashion and bought her a sewing kit. After completing her A levels at the Pre-University School in 2005, Allen decided to pursue her dreams and attended Garmex HEART Academy to study production and fashion design.

In 2007, Allen landed her first fashion job at Petals and Promises, where she discovered her love for bridal wear.

"I just love how finding the perfect dress would light up the bride's face, no matter her personality. I love that fashion or a piece of clothing can bring confidence and change the whole look and demeanour of its wearer," she shared.

By 2009, Allen became very confident and started designing her own dresses. With her talent and her husband, Kavan's business sense, they were able to create their brand, House of Clay, in 2011.

 

MAIN STRUGGLE

 

Allen admits that though she is often satisfied by the intricacy and beauty of her dresses, their main struggle is not having the working capital to grow the business as much as they would like to. They have many aspirations and dreams for the brand, but with perseverance, patience and consistency they believe House of Clay will continue to grow tremendously.

As the fashion industry becomes more complex, Allen's love of creating beauty with her hands and her determination to leave a mark on the fashion industry keep her grounded. She explains that her designs are inspired by the things she sees on a daily basis and her usual researches.

"I pride myself in learning new techniques and can be inspired by a word, image or Bible verse. After spending days or weeks on a dress, I love the satisfaction I get from seeing how intricate and luxurious it is, knowing that I made it and that my client is happy and feels beautiful in it," Allen told Flair.

The 'Tropical Fantasy' theme for the Helen G's wedding dress competition was an invitation for Allen to showcase her talent. She said the first thing that came to her mind was how delicate and beautiful the yellow blossoms looked on the ground after falling from the poui tree. A sucker for details and pretty things, she knew she was going to create petal-like details all over the dress. She also knew she had to make a cape because she admires the Supergirl series and thought, nothing says fantasy like superheros.

Winning the competition has solidified in Allen's heart and mind the importance of trusting her instincts and vision. Going in, she was not sure what to expect as the voting process on Facebook was very hard. People expressed strong feelings of dislike towards her dress, and after spending a lot of time ensuring that every detail on her dress was perfect, the comments were heartbreaking.

"I'm happy I had a healthy perspective. People won't always like what you do but you need to always ensure that you can stand by your work. I thank God for my husband because he worked so hard to ensure that people voted because he knew that once we made it to the top five and people saw the dress in person, they would love it, and they did! We won!" she expressed joyously.

The win validates all her years of working hard behind the scenes to ensure that what the world would finally see would be nothing short of fantastic.

kimberly.goodall@gleanerjm.com