Allison Leach is a well-recognized international wardrobe and costume designer who just formed a new company called RoboUnicorn. Bringing her extraordinary talents from working on huge blockbuster movies, television shows, celebrities, restaurants and corporations such as Mattel, Microsoft, Caesars Entertainment, Ted Talks, BMW China and others, it’s about time the woman behind the magic steps forward! Leach and her new company are embarking on an exciting future and we couldn’t be more excited.
The Levity Ball was privileged enough and caught up with Leach in Hollywood where she opened up to us about all, and gave us a personal look into the mind of one of the most creative individuals we’ve ever had the experience in chatting with.
You are like the Vincent Van Gogh of the costume design world, you are everywhere! What exciting projects do you have planned so far for the rest of this year?
I have many incredible projects in the works right now, some of which I cannot announce just yet, but one project I’m so excited about is a 3D printed fashion collaboration with CIDEAS in Chicago. They specialize in 3D printed prototyping and engineering for various industries. We met at the 3D printing show in Chelsea last winter and couldn’t stop brainstorming! We’re currently collaborating on an innovative textile and whole new kind of garment, to be unveiled in 2015.
If you weren’t in costume and wardrobe design, what would you be doing?
Traveling and volunteer scuba diving. But even then, I would inevitably start designing the ultimate wetsuit in my mind. Even if I try to stop thinking about clothes, the subject keeps creeping back. I really can’t even look at a tide-pool without getting inspired for a new textile or color scheme. It’s a blessing and a curse!
What do you hope people walk away with in their mind after seeing one of your costumes?
I hope that the image of at least one character I’ve helped create gets seared into someone’s long-term memory. The way so many beautiful costumes and memorable characters live on in my own memory: Leslie Caron’s final look in Gigi (CD: Cecil Beaton), Rita Moreno’s dancing dress in West Side Story (CD: Irene Sharaff), or Michelle Pfeiffer wearing head-to-toe ice blue denim in Married to the Mob! (CD: Colleen Atwood)
What has been your greatest memory thus far while working in Hollywood?
One of my greatest memories from the last year has to be: While designing a commercial campaign for Microsoft Surface and director Jon M. Chu, one of our lead dancers proposed to his girlfriend during their duet in the last take of the shoot. All of the cast and crew were in on it, and we all played along like it was a “real take”. She was so surprised and of course said, “Yes!” That was a proposal that really did ‘take a village’ to execute. Very romantic and grand! I felt honored that they were wearing my costumes for such a special moment in their lives.
How important is it to have a solid team working alongside you when creating costumes for shows, restaurants, movies, etc.?
Essential! Deadlines seem to come quicker and quicker these days. I rely on partnerships with so many talented and trusted illustrators, craftspeople, specialty manufacturers, and assistant designers/costumers to meet these crazy deadlines! This is definitely a collaborative line of work. And here’s a secret: that’s actually my favorite part!
What is the best advice you were ever given?
A professor once told me to “find some brutality” in my design work. In hindsight, this was some of the best advice ever. It pushed me to explore scary subjects in my work, not just double rainbows and the pretty things in life, like lace and peach chiffon. Now I enjoy designing for Super-villains as much as Super-heroes. Even evil characters deserve good clothes! In fact, they often end up with the best looks.
What was the worse?
RE: Worst advice, if it’s bad advice, I don’t bother remembering it. Just don’t have extra space in my brain with all the good quotes and good advice that I try to “keep on file”.
Inspirational quotes are something I ingest daily, like coconut water. Quotes from famous thinkers & friends, awesome musicians, and tea bags. For example, today’s quote is: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice” -Steve Jobs. Good quotes help keep me focused and inspired, and often inform themed-looks for characters and my own outfits!
Your new company is RoboUnicorn… Tell us all about this unique name that brings two different worlds together it seems and why you started this company.
I had an epiphany that fashion and costume design require equal parts skill/precision (ROBO) and unbridled creative flow (UNICORN). You gotta have both to do this thing well. So I figured it was time to turn my values into a brand. Something larger than just me. And be able to hire likeminded, talented people under that same umbrella. I believe one person can change the world for good, and even a small business can have a big impact.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Sexism and any other -ism/phobia standing in the way of 100% equal human rights, everywhere and every day. Humanity is pretty epic. Imagine how much further along we could be if we stopped wasting our energy trying to strong-arm each other?! We could get busy exploring the universe, together, full time.