These days there can be so much retro in the clothes we wear that the style loses meaning to abundance. By definition, the 1940's and 50's custom-made dresses Alana Felton of Peekskill produces could easily fall into that category. But her Retro Shreds stand the most import test to originality that any girl could ask for.
One of her own biggest customers, she says, "Not a day goes by when some boy asks me out on a date."
At this point with a boyfriend of four years, she's not a taker but her original interest in dress design began on a much smaller scale when she was 10. "I sewed clothes for my dolls," she says.
Eventually, actual sized dolls - like herself - became a fit to her fashion sense. "I learned to sew grownup clothes when I was 16 and it took off from there," she says.
Starting with plaid and mini skirts, her high school interest in Punk Rock was the vehicle that let her time warp to where she wanted to be fashion-wise. It's a short step from old school Rock 'n Roll and then rockabilly, she says. Off that continuum, she took on a new look, and going back to the future, became a business through all the compliments she got from both boys and girls.
Officially, that would be in 2007 when she went to a rockabilly festival in North Carolina with nothing but a dress and a new business card. Nonetheless, she says, "I wouldn't sell my first dress until 2009."
In turn, with a dress like the "Goody-Goody" or the "Going Steady" a Retro Shred can eliminate a girls biggest fear. "You don't want to be caught out wearing something another girl is wearing," she says.
At Chucky Cheese or out to dinner on a date - probably not a big concern, but at a swing convention or square dance, the wrong retro could easily make a chick look like a copy. Starting with seven baseline dresses, she has a long conversation with the client to iron out the right fabric, trims, colors and buttons. So once she buys just the right amount of fabric, it takes a few weeks to make a dress that no one else in the world has.
Of course, what a great gift for a GI to give his girl but should a strong man really know how to sit down with her to custom piece a dress together? A gift certificate is so the boy can pick out a baseline dress for his riveter, she says, and Rosie can take it from there.
Either way, she'll make no judgment as to the fact that he always picks out the sexiest 50's dress, but it evens out as she finds a lot of girls are weary of dropping two or three hundred dollars on her designs.
As is, she sold nine dresses last year in between her work at the Peekskill Coffee House and the Coop at 103 South Division Street . It's just a small business, and I don't really have time to branch out, she says.
On the other hand, if she does get a sudden bump in sales, her wardrobe would be the only thing suffering the shortage of time. I still make most of my own clothes, she says, and I'm sewing all the time anyway. That's just as well, it seems there's no time for boys anyway.