Edgy, Bible-inspired design wins fashion contest

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Sunday, March 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When designer Alicia Akrie sat down to create an entry for a fashion contest, the Bible was her inspiration.

“I was looking at Psalm 23, where it talks about preparing a table in the presence of enemies and how incredible it would be to know you are going to be seated at dinner with enemies and come out triumphantly,” Akrie says. “So I named my collection Dinner With the Devil.”

One of the pieces from the line was chosen as the winner of the wild-card entry in the M. Jack Anderson Emerging Talent Award competition. Akrie entered the outfit that she felt was her strongest look — an accordion-sleeve jacket, zipper blouse and pants. She used different wool blends for the jacket, silk for the blouse which has magnetic closures and woven-silk brocade pants.

She and other winners were recognized on March 21 at the National Black Arts Festival Fine Art + Fashion event at Neiman Marcus in Atlanta. Her piece was featured in a fashion show.

“The whole thing has been such a whirlwind,” says Akrie, who is from Chartiers City and is a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. “It has been really humbling. I didn't expect to win. This was such a great opportunity, I thought, even if I didn't win. I can't believe my design is in the window at Neiman Marcus.”

The Emerging Talent Award recognizes students who have excelled academically and distinguished themselves as creative innovators in the field of fashion design.

Students were challenged to create a day, evening or wild-card design and describe their design philosophy as well as their aspirations and use for the award scholarship. This is the second year Savannah College of Art and Design students have taken all three awards.

The award was established in honor of the late M. Jack Anderson, brother of noted philanthropist and Fine Art + Fashion chair, Sandra Anderson Baccus.

Akrie's designs also are inspired by her family, particularly her grandmother Dorothy Akrie, a home seamstress for family and friends who taught her granddaughter to use her talents and push the boundaries of her artistry.

“She demanded the very best out of everyone and pushed me to raise my own standards,” Akrie says. “I think she would be very proud.”

The Bible is a big part of Akrie's life. Her father, Gerald, is pastor at Community of Grace A.M.E. Zion Church in Chartiers City. Her mother, Carol, also is very involved in the church.

“My parents have been so supportive of me and doing it from a distance from home,” she says. “All is good.”

Akrie attended Perry Traditional Academy where she graduated in 2007. She started thinking specifically about fashion in high school, but has always loved the arts. She first started with a project in high school for interior design.

“I don't have the focus for architecture,” she says. “But fashion seemed to be where I should be.”

Her personal style is a clean, edgy look, she says. She loves vintage pieces and mixes them with modern items.

“I am a big fan of second-hand stores and consignment shops,” she says. “Some of the best pieces I own are from those kinds of stores. I go there to find treasure, and it is always exciting what you find. You just need to be open-minded when you are looking in those stores. The search is part of the fun. Sometimes I buy things that are great deals, even if it's not my style, because I know someone who might like it.”

Akrie says through fashion she hopes to empower women and have them realize their strength comes in different forms and shapes and sizes and that there is beauty in every woman. She wants women to feel comfortable in their skins and to know that each was created for a purpose and to find beauty in that.

She will be graduating June 1 and is planning to move to New York City.

“I have been thinking about giving that a shot, going to New York,” she says. “I know it will take hard work to make it there, but I plan to hit the ground running.”

Wherever her fashion career takes her she will be successful, says Stephanie Taylor, one of Akrie's fashion professors.

The two met in Akrie's early days studying fashion.

“Alicia's enthusiasm for fashion design is contagious. She pushes herself, taking on new and more difficult fabrics and design ideas. Her projects were always amongst the best in the class,” Taylor says. “I know she will be successful in the fashion industry. She's what we call a total package. She's smart, talented, friendly and very focused.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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