An Intimate Interview with New York City
(and Fashion's) Next Big Thing: Catia Alati
Catia Alati, founder and designer of Alati NYC, grew up in Sora, Italy, about one hour outside of Rome. As a young girl, Catia watched her mother pick clothing designs from magazines and put her own spin on them. Catia’s mother enjoyed relaying her vision to the local seamstress who would then bring it to life. Her grandmother loved clothing as well. “Nonna,” as Catia refers to grandmother as, used her old Singer sewing machine to produce stylish tank tops, skirts and jeans for her budding fashionista granddaughter. This is how it all started for Catia - she was born into an intuitively creative world where the women around her developed their own design sensibility and had a keen eye for what looked good on different body types.
Catia moved to the United States in 1985 with her family when she was 14 years old. Given her studious nature, she immediately immersed herself in her school work and begrudgedly began to take fashion design classes upon rigorous requests by her mother, Lidia. She developed a natural talent for designing and illustrating clothes but the timing was not right and opportunities led Catia to eventually get a job in the insurance industry while pursuing a degree in business at night. Further opportunities took Catia on a typical corporate America path while her innermost desires were continuously at odds with her daily work routine. But as time progressed, Catia saw an opportunity to beautify the often rigid and conservative corporate America dress code. She founded Alati NYC in 2006.
For her collection, Catia draws inspiration from the past, from her surroundings, from different observations of people and from nature. New York City was the perfect place to launch her vision as she has always loved the idea of the New York City girl: self-defined, confident, on-trend and not afraid to take risks. Yet, she picked up on some different fashion cues while working in the insurance industry in Manhattan’s financial district for 15 years.
“Fashion is almost non-existent,” Catia stated. “It’s a very conservative world and it’s definitely run by men. There is no inspiration in the clothes. So I decided I wanted to start my own clothing line to show the world that you can be professional, yet stylish, at the same time.”
Catia has studied the styles around her and has taken note of what types of cuts flatter the female body. Simply put, she has a keen sense of which looks are acceptable for women working in traditional, often male-dominated fields.
“I’m trying to be creative, but not cross the line,” she said. “So a girl who is going into that work environment will still be respected and recognized, but without coming across as vulgar or contrived.”
Her designs are meticulously crafted to meet her visionary standards and her creative intuition does not miss a beat. “I can just close my eyes and see a runway,” Catia said. “I can close my eyes and instinctually see a design I have never seen before. Immediately I reach for my drawing board and sketch it as fast as I can.”
For her debut Fall 2013 collection, Catia will propose versatile silk shirts, illusion prints, a three-quarter sleeve tweed wool coat, luxe fabrics featuring the juxtaposition of sheen and opaque, and most importantly, slimming silhouettes. The entire line will be incredibly “user-friendly.”
“Even though the new collection will have a fitted, tailored look, because of the choice of fabric, there will be a lot of movement [in the clothes,]” said Catia. “You’re not going to feel constricted. You’re going to feel liberated and sexy, beautiful and empowered.”
Catia wants a woman wearing her designs to feel confident and comfortable in her own skin. “I’m excited to see the effect that my pieces will have on people. I dream that women wearing Alati NYC will feel like they own themselves and every room they walk into.”
Catia names Gabrielle “Coco” Bonheur Chanel as her designer inspiration; she is drawn to Coco’s life more so than the clothes she designed. Catia has long admired Coco’s ability to challenge the common notions of how women should dress during her time. Coco was a liberator of women and Catia wants to retrace Gabrielle’s brave footsteps by channeling Coco with her mission for Alati NYC.
“She had a vision of a woman that was completely different from the time and she took that vision and created a phenomenal brand that has successfully stood the test time,” Catia said. “I admire designers for their personality, not just their clothes. [Coco] didn’t conform and I’m not a conformist either. I want to break boundaries.”
It’s Catia’s dynamic personality, positive outlook, unique take on fashion and her die-hard respect for the industry that makes her a brilliant addition to the New York City scene.