“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller
No better quote expresses the philosophy of the exciting and avant-garde designer Dr. Quinton de’ Alexander. Living in New Orleans, an area rich with diversity and culture, Quinton’s curiosity about the clothes and how they were structured was recognized by him and supported by his family at an early age. At eight years old, he saw a sewing machine at a local garage sale and asked if he could have it. Thank goodness for the world of fashion and for those of us who benefit from that world, that young Mr. de’ Alexander was not denied.
Quinton began by teaching himself, through trial and error, how to make things. At a rate belying his talent and imagination, he saw his first creations within hours of setting up his new “toy” -perfect potholders – an event that sparked the journey of his life’s vocation. Day after day, he would feed his newfound passion and sit at his Singer sewing machine and recreate garments that he had studied. Without any patterns or formal education in design, he worked at the concept until he got it right. Now, due to that unstoppable spirit and determination he demonstrated as a youth, every design created by Quinton is not only right, it’s breath taking.
Based in Chicago, Illinois, Quinton is the Founder/President of Chez de’ Alexander. He has created designs for an impressive range of clientele, from celebrities to small nonprofit organizations. He is a strong believer in giving back to the community and has been doing so throughout his career. Quinton is known for what is referred to as “Drama Dresses” – dresses designed to display and say so much that every head must turn to admire that “incredible work of art.”
In addition to his extensive line of women’s apparel, he also has a line of distinguished men’s apparel. Featuring powerful suits and relaxing eveningwear. The sky is the limit when it comes to his creativity. Quinton de’ Alexander is taking the fashion industry by storm, with ease and astonishing style, as he continues to please and amaze clients throughout the United States with his unquestionable talent and passion for making fashion come to life.
Quinton’s designs were showcased in the 1995 “Canadian Club Tribute to Black Designers” held in Oakland, California where he was the feature designer for “SONGDIVA”, which he also Executive Produced, and Co-Directed,
Additionally, Quinton has received numerous local and national awards such as the Fred Hampton Image Award, the 2000 University of Illinois “Hester Bates Foundation Community Service” Award, the 2003 Russell Maryland “Community Service” Award, the Westside Youth Technical Entrepreneur Center Youth Center 2010 “Thanksliving” Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service, the 2011 Teen Parent Services “Central Outstanding and Dedicated Service” Award, the 2011 Mahogany Foundation “Image Award for Excellence” in costume design, the 2012 Black Heritage Award (clothing designer of the year), Lakeside Community 2016 ‘Humanitarian of The Year” Award, and Chicago Drifters, Inc. 2016 “Community Service” Award.
In 2019, he received a Proclamation from the Honorable Lori Lightfoot for his vision of “We Dream In Color” Humanitarian Celebration. The plans are limitless for Dr. de’ Alexander, as he prepares to launch the “BLUEPRINT” exhibit tour, and a design program for “at risk youth,” both in the fall of 2020.
Dr. Quinton de’ Alexander…an eight year old young, self-taught designer, who wasn’t afraid to dream BIG and DREAM IN COLOR!
GO BANG! Magazine: What about fashion design attracted you as a child?
Quinton de’ Alexander: I was a true fan of watching the old black and white movies with actors such as Clarke Gable, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Nat King Cole, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis and Marlene Dietrich to name a few. One thing I noticed, and was well aware of, is the clothing they wore was something special. I even took notice early on of the way my father dressed on Sunday’s going to church. Not only did I take notice of their clothing, I was fascinated by the furniture in the television homes/castles like ‘Gone With The Wind’ and ‘Dracula’ movies. I found myself taking notice at the way various people around were dressed and knew within that I wanted to not only dress like the people on television, who was obviously rich and famous, I wanted to learn to make them as well. Mostly because as a young eight year old, I didn’t have money to purchase them myself. Let me point his out. At eight years old, I refuse to play with toys and almost demanded I get clothing for Christmas and birthdays, instead of toys. My Father honored my wishes and allowed me to have clothes that I selected, which looked very similar to the clothes I saw Grant and Gable wear. I can remember clearly the remarks people made as I walked into church on Sundays and holidays. Church members would always say, ‘Your father know he be dressing you sharp, all the way down to the shoes,” which is why I surely develop my love of shoes. I must have over 200 hundred pairs of shoes, half never worn.
GO BANG! Magazine: Knowing how cruel children can be, as a kid, did you ever get teased or bullied by your peers for being a young boy that was interested in sewing? If so, how did you deal with it? If not, how did you avoid it?
Quinton de’ Alexander: This question makes me think. Looking back on it now, I guess you could call it an attempt of bullying. In the beginning, I would have to say no. It would come into play as the pre-teen years came into existence. Back then, I probably look at it as jealously because we were able to get the things we wanted and needed. My father was a excellent provider of wants. Now besides sewing, I was very active in after-school activities with choir in school and in church, as well as participated in sports. I played football, ran track, played basketball and snuck secretly to participate in boxing. What the bully’s weren’t aware of is that I could box well too. I’ll just say, once they bullied, they stopped quickly. That was once or twice, that I can remember. News travels fast. I honestly think it was the difference in living circumstances.
By my teen years, not only was I designing clothing, putting together fashion shows, and organizing dance troupes for talent shows, I was doing hair in the neighborhood…the good old “on the stove flat iron and curlers.” I had two wonderful muses, Vernelia Harris and Sally Ross. These ladies allowed me to do their hair or make clothes which gave me the confidence to pursue my dream. Fifty years later, we’re still in each other’s lives. All self taught, I can easily remember my mother telling people “I don’t know where he gets this talent from.”
GO BANG! Magazine: When designing a gown for a woman, how are you inspired and what guides you to design that specific gown?
Quinton de’ Alexander: My desire is to bring out the beauty of each client individually, by accentuating the positive and burying the negative deep into nonexistence. I grew up watching the most glamorous movies in black and white, when women truly dressed like ladies. So, I have the frame of mind to bring forth the most glamorous grande dame, even if she’s young in age. However, it’s very important to give the client what she wants, unless it’s harmful to your brand. I’m very firm on not designing clothes that are not ladylike or too revealing. My clientele generally ask for my input. I listen to the client’s concerns, view past images of things they like, and ask “what is the impact you want to make at your entrance and what do you want them to say after your exit?” This allows me to go into my creative state of mind, returning with the designs to rise to the occasion and to deliver the desired outcome. In the end, it’s all about manifesting the clients dream gown into reality, with style and class.
GO BANG! Magazine: You also design men’s formal wear. Men, in general, are usually a little less fussy and/or particular about their clothing. What type of specific designing ideas do you explore when designing men’s clothing?
Quinton de’ Alexander: I beg to differ. That may have been in the olden days, but men are sometimes just as fussy as women in regards to fabric and fit. Over the years, men have evolved and consumed the importance of making a statement or entrance in grand style. All clients deserve the same attention to details and time. I find that giving them inclusion in the creative process and teaching the quality of fabrics bring them as much joy as if I was dealing with a client of the opposite gender. Educate today, satisfied client tomorrow.
GO BANG! Magazine: Over the years you have designed for a very special group of people and received several awards for your outstanding designs. Are there any celebrities or other individuals that you would like to design for, or any designers that you’d like to work with, that you haven’t thus far?
Quinton de’ Alexander: I’ve been blessed to design, dress and work with many influential people. I learned early on to treat each client the same, no matter of social status. In my eyes they are my celebrity. I’m just grateful and humbled that they selected me for guidance and to bring their vision or dream creation to life. I’ve also worked with many designers who I’ve become friends with. I’ve always appreciated the uniqueness that each designer brings forward. I find there’s harmony in unification of the creative mind and forces. If at any time a designer brings the desire of collaborating and time permits, I’m all aboard.
GO BANG! Magazine: I know that you have the We Dream In Color Foundation Inc, which gives back. Why do you feel it is important to give back to the community, and in what ways does your organization give back?
Quinton de’ Alexander: As I traveled my journey of becoming an independent designer, as well as in life, I not only experienced, but I’ve witness what the lack of support from family and peers will do to individuals that weren’t capable of making the impossible become possible. It takes a village to raise a child. The same goes for life. No matter who you are, no one can survive the journey of life out here on their own. Therefore, I promised myself that the first time I was able to assist others freely, I would do so. Be it financially, utilizing my God given gifts, or simply sharing the knowledge I gained from ‘trial and error’ along my journey of independent living and life. I founded ‘We Dream In Color Foundation Inc.’ to be used as a vessel to assist individuals in need of a little assistance during challenging times. I hate when others call people down on their luck “The Needy.” We Dream In Color Foundation Inc. has established a community outreach, which includes a monthly feeding program for individuals living outside, we’ve organized various fashion and entertainment events for senior residences, and deliver new clothes and toys to various children’s hospitals, such as La Rabida and Advocate, with wards servicing survivors of cancer. We do that every Tuesday in December. It’s our extended version of “Giving Tuesday,” However, I find great joy blessing survivors of various life challenges, such as domestic violence, homelessness, cancer, and low self-esteem, with my “Encourage Yourself Makeover.” It’s a total image makeover created for assisting to bring the “confidence to live life” to the fullest, bringing the hidden in the darkness back into the light. It’s truly a blessing to be a blessing to those who truly appreciate human kindness. The one song that I find to be extremely true is “People Who Need People Are The Happiest People In The World.” Just imagine the positive results if we all took a moment to assist others to Dream BIG and DREAM IN COLOR.
GO BANG! Magazine: Designing is a very personal craft. You must not only please yourself, but you must also please your client. How do you manage to reach that sensitive balance, when you design your creations?
Quinton de’ Alexander: My pleasure comes with knowing that my client is 100% satisfied. It’s all about listening and seeing the clients vision clearly, then discussing each other’s interpretation in full details to make sure we’re on the same page of understanding. This way leads to no miscommunication. It’s like tomayto/tomahto. As long as we discuss our interpretations fully, the end result will surely equal a successful project and a very satisfied client.
GO BANG! Magazine: Later this year, you’re planning to launch the “BLUEPRINT” exhibit tour, and a design program for “at risk” youth. Please tell our readers what to expect from these two fascinating events.
Quinton de’ Alexander: The ‘BLUEPRINT’ exhibit tour is all about empowerment. It will consist of an exhibit that shares my journey of becoming a fashion designer. It’ll cover from my younger years, stepping out on faith, tackling the world on my own, up to the present showcasing some of the successes I’ve achieved, because I wasn’t afraid to dream BIG and DREAM IN COLOR. Mostly achieved with lack of support. I’ve secured survivors who are willing to travel, sharing their story of surviving their life’s challenge, with the hope of inspiring others to stay the course of finding their way from darkness into the light. As the tour travels, I will select various non-profits that are assisting “at risk youth.” We’ll partner with them and incorporate a design program, to not only keep the youth off the streets, giving them a safe haven, but teaching them the skill of sewing. This way, they too can possibly step out on faith, creating their own clothing design blueprint and then journey.
GO BANG! Magazine: If, God forbid, you were unable to design clothes anymore. What would you do then as a career, and why?
Quinton de’ Alexander: That’s a great question. I’ve been designing clothes my entire life. I would have to say the Mental Health field. I say this because I find pure satisfaction in assisting others with low self esteem find their way into feeling empowered. There’s nothing greater than seeing a person smiling after they look in the mirror and feel good about themselves. I can’t express to you the looks I’ve witness, or the tears of joy, after I turn survivors around and they see what they feel is a positive image of themselves in the mirror. This happens after performing one of my ‘Encourage Yourself Makeovers.” I’ve had family and friends say, “Thank you for giving me my mother, father, sister or brother back.” These words fill my heart with joy. Knowing that I did a small part to rebuild the confidence of a human spirit, which I hope in return will give them the strength to push forward to reach for the “unreachable star.”
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has caught the world off guard. How are you dealing with it?
Quinton de’ Alexander: To be quite honest, the current COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected me at all. Mostly due to the fact that I’m a serious planner and I’ve been preparing for retirement in the years to come for the last three years. I’ve downsized my home to a size in a very quiet area that I can manage in my seniors years, I’ve added the things that I enjoy for entertainment, as well as the things I utilize to manage my exercise regimen, things such as a fitness room with sauna and steam. I also incorporated an entertainment room with a theater area, pool table and Pac-Man machine included. Lastly, I turned my back yard into my own destination getaway, accented with tropical plants and a hot tub. So the things I’ve been blocked from attending outside, I’ve been enjoying in the solitude of my home. Not forgetting to mentioned that my business life can be extremely busy, I find great joy in quiet/me time. I’m mostly a loner in my personal life. Rarely do I have personal guests. So being home during this pandemic lockdown alone has been quite relaxing, rejuvenating and totally stress free.
You can learn more about Dr. Quinton de’ Alexander or We Dream In Color Foundation Inc., visit: http://www.wedreamincolor.org
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.