Shortly after her first runway show, Northwest Arkansas fashion designer Alyssa Graves joked that maybe someday she'd make it to New York Fashion Week.
Just six months later, she was showing her designs on one of the biggest stages in fashion.
"It was just one of those things I joked about, but it was a wonderful experience that hasn’t hit me yet," Graves said. "It happened so fast. But I got to walk out at the end of the show and say thank you to the crowd, and it was a very humbling experiencing."
In only her second show, the 25-year-old Bentonville native presented six pieces in a combined show with emerging designers from around the world. Her line of formalwear geared toward spring and summer 2019 included a trumpet-style white-and-silver gown, a gold sequined dress with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a rose gold jumpsuit.
"I love making special, different types of things because it’s something you don’t typically wear," said Graves, whose design company, A. Brook's Designs and Apparel, specializes in bridal and evening wear. "It’s the way it makes you feel. It gives you confidence and makes you feel beautiful. I love seeing faces just light up. It makes my heart happy."
The opportunity to present at New York Fashion Week arose after Graves completed her first show at Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week in late March. After the show, she received an email from a publicist at Above Time Designs — a marketing and public relations firm specializing in social media, campaign launches and event planning — asking her to participate in a show dedicated to showcasing the talent of emerging designers.
"If I hadn’t been included in that [Arkansas] show, none of this would have been possible," said Graves, who received a grant from the Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum to help with travel expenses. "It’s nice to know that my home state and the people there are supporting local designers to go out and succeed in other locations."
Graves, who graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in apparel merchandising and product development, spent the next six months completing her looks on nights and weekends when she wasn't working her day job as a dance instructor.
The designs Graves showed at New York Fashion Week can be viewed when she returns to Arkansas to present at this fall's Northwest Arkansa Fashion Week, which will take place Sept. 20-22.
"Timing is everything, and [New York Fashion Week] fell at a really great time in my career," she said. "I’m on the front end, so hopefully this leads to more exposure and me being able to make more custom designs for other people."