Mixing the right elements in an outfit has always been natural for Isabelle Carter, the designer of Alms , whose personal style helped her climb the ranks as a stylist in Los Angeles.

Carter modeled in runway shows for designers such as Martin Margiela in her native country of France. She moved to Los Angeles in her early 20s and found her way into the fashion scene after modeling in music videos and other commercial projects, where her unique look helped her befriend stylists. “I think people saw me more as a personality or character [than a model],” Carter said.

After eight years working as a stylist, Carter decided she was finally ready to start her own clothing line. She moved to New York and studied fashion design at Parsons, The New School of Design for two years. Then she moved back to Los Angeles and launched Alms almost two years ago.

“Styling is having an eye,” Carter said. She elaborated on why she went back to school to learn clothing design: “You can have an eye, but when you have to construct, then you have to explain to someone [your ideas]. I’m French, so I’m already having communication issues. I wanted to be able to communicate my ideas and know what was possible to do and not.”

Carter’s collection, Alms, has a flavor of the avant-garde and a risky style that is her own, as found in a silk charmeuse dress that is cut down the middle with one side ruched and the other side clean and pressed.

Other pieces mix a whisper of vintage—such as an art deco trim on a natural cotton gauze dress—with a non-specific ethnic hint, such as an apron. “I’m trying not to make it obvious. I’m trying to adapt it to something that’s a bit more new,” Carter said.

Though it has been a bumpy transition from stylist to designer (Carter recently had a baby, which slowed down the work process), translating her style into clothes that are wholly her own vision was worth the effort. Friends she met through styling, such as designer Michelle Mason, have helped her learn the ropes on the business and production end.

“As a designer, there are rules for sales, but ultimately it’s your vision and your ideas so your story goes from A to Z. It’s yours,” Carter said.

The line is being sold in stores such as Scout in Los Angeles. Sample wholesale price points are $139 for a silk charmeuse pin-tucked shirt, $133 for a Modal jersey tank dress with an apron skirt and $231 for a cotton gauze dress with antique art deco trim.

For more information, contact the EM Productions showroom in suite 216 of the Cooper Design Space at (213) 614-9292 or visit www.almsdealer.com . — Rhea Cortado

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