In celebration of our new marketplace we're giving you the inside scoop on the artists we have on board with us for this exciting new venture. Alison Mahoney is the owner and creator of Aria by Alison. She hand makes gorgeous bridal headpieces and wedding accessories. Each piece is one-of-a-kind and given special care. Vintage style wedding veils and wedding accessories are timeless and classy. We're very excited to have her with us in our handmade marketplace.
Aria by Alison — The Story Behind the Chic Wedding Accessories
I guess you could say I became a designer/crafter by accident. I'm primarily a singer/actress, and when I was backstage at one show, waiting to make my entrance, I was crocheting holiday gifts. My fellow cast members and crew encouraged me to sell them by placing orders for my vintage-inspired creations themselves.
A couple of years after ARIA began, I started designing headbands and they became wildly popular with young, hip brides who were looking for something a little different. It was also around that time that I started to notice there was a move towards classic, vintage, 1940s-style bridal headpieces, while bridesmaids and guests were gravitating toward wearing fascinators (and this was two years before the Royal Wedding!). Since I love vintage fashion and I adore classic glamour, I thought, what a great opportunity to start making veils and fascinators. Early on some bridal editors saw my pieces (and wore them for their weddings!), so I've been featured in the magazines, which has given me some great national visibility. Today, each new design is inspired by the musical in which I am performing in at the time I first make it.
What inspires your work?
I mostly find inspiration in 1940s fashion and music. I am a classically trained opera singer, so I often hear something that inspires me to create a hat or headpiece that is evocative of that song, production, or a specific singer. But sometimes I can look at a lollipop and it will inspire me to make something!
I am a trained opera singer and when I was brainstorming ideas for my company my sister recommended using a musical term so that all my loves were encompassed in one name and thus ARIA by alison was born. ARIA is Italian for song and since I am inspired everyday by the song in my heart and songs playing on the radio it felt like the perfect name. Each piece of the one-of-a-kind collection is handcrafted and designed by me. The accessories are named after influential operas and famous roles, as well as musical theater characters and songs.
How many hours a week do you spend crafting? What's your favorite time of day to work?
The amount of time I spend designing varies depending on demand. During the spring, summer and fall I can be a busy little bee and during the winter months I am working a new spring/summer collection. I am a bit of a night owl so I love to work at night. I usually won’t start working until 9 or 10 and can stay up until 2 finishing a veil. Once inspiration hits I have to ride the wave!
What’s your personal favorite item in your shop?
It's hard to pick a favorite in my bridal line, since each is an individual, usually custom, piece, but I love the feather sashes, like the Ariadne feather and rhinestone silk sash. They not only work on brides, but they also look great on a cocktail dress. One time Jenna Lyons, from J Crew, said she loved a feather fascinator of mine, Papagena, and I almost fainted. It was the best compliment ever!
I am obsessed with Bhldn. I think that the dresses are whimsical and romantic. I think the modern vintage aesthetic is so chic and perfectly executed and I think any woman would feel incredibly gorgeous, lovely and sophisticated on her wedding day wearing one of my veils and one of their gowns!
What blogs or sites do you enjoy for tips and inspiration?
I like Green Wedding Shoes blog and I honestly love looking at photos of women from the 1940s – 60s back when it was uber chic to wear hats, fascinators and embellished netting. I wander through the photos and imagine how a modern day woman would interpret that look and then I design it.
What is your dream project?
I would love to go back in time and design hairpieces for Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and old movie musicals.
If I'm inspired I'll try to make anything, and on a first try it can be a hot mess. Or I miscalculate as I am making up the pattern and the headpiece is too small or looks crazy, but in those mistakes come the greatest inspirations. Many of my disasters have turned into total triumphs!
Have any advice for those aspiring to do what you do?
Have fun, experiment, and don't take anything too seriously. Listen to your customer, but follow your gut. Be inspired by the things around you and use materials that make you feel luxurious and excited because then your bride will feel the same way on her special day. And never ever shy away from a little sparkle.
Please don't forget to stop by the marketplace to check out what one of a kind creations Alison has available for you!