Photography / Editorial / Print

As featured in Unfolded Magazine Issue 04

We interview Mandi Gallegos, the designer behind Mikailee Alton about her work, interests and creative expression through fashion.

Being a designer, how important is it to be creative and explore new boundaries with your work?

Design is an art form and expressing my creative side through my designs is everything. I believe that any artist sees their surroundings a bit differently than others and create from those images. For me, inspiration can be set off by a flower, a colour or even nature itself; anything can bring back a memory and shift my mood. I am bolder in creating pieces that reflect what I am feeling at the time.

Where did the name of the label originate from?

The label name actually comes from a mixture of my twin nieces' first names, Mikayla and Brilee (Mikailee) and my sons' first names, which are Alec and Easton (Alton)

What would you describe your label as?

The Mikailee Alton label creates designs that have a unique blend of structure, nature and grace enhanced only by the individual who wears it.

How important has the education at IADT been in allowing you to experiment with patterns, cuts, design?

When I enrolled in design school, I more or less knew what I was getting into. It wasn't until my first pattern making class that I realised how wrong I was in understanding the way designs took shape (I laugh at myself when I say that). Some teachers were amazing at helping me see design in a whole new way. I don't think everyone says that they "LOVE" pattern making in the beginning, because for some it's difficult to understand. I adore pattern making, even when I am off by half an inch, the design goes terribly wrong and I must unravel to start again. Schooling is very important, even if you’re good at something, perfecting your craft can only make you better at it.

Could you briefly describe the design process you go through in making a signature piece?

Sketching is first and foremost my beginning. I sketch in pencil, outline with a black fine tip marker and hardly ever colour in my designs. Colouring to me is restrictive to my creative process. One day I might like red and other day blue, so I leave it raw.

Finding my colour palette is next: Should I pick monochromatic or split complimentary colour's? I fight myself a lot on this subject. I don't like colour trends, I believe fashion is open to every colour.

Fabric shopping is the hardest for me to decide on, because I am picky with material. The feel of the material can make or break a design.

Next, comes pattern making. Always my longest process, not because the difficulty of it, but because the pattern IS the design.

Cutting the material is where 90% of my second guessing takes place; because once you cut it out... it’s a done deal.

Sewing out of all the others steps is a breeze for me.

Lastly my favourite part of my design process, the detailing. Perfectionism is my worst enemy, so this is when I say I can always make it better… even when everything fits into place.

Where do you source your materials and fabrics from?

Joann Fabric, Hobby Lobby or Sew Elegant in San Antonio, Texas. Sadly, San Antonio is not very fabric friendly; I try to make do with what my community offers me. Beauty in the most unlikely places!

You have had to endure life changing experiences before you decided to embark on a career in fashion, how has it c