Designer Profile: Ian Hargrove

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Designer Ian Hargrove’s collections are proof of that.

His workspace is covered in boards for Hargrove to pin anything that catches his eye. ‘“I’ve always been very easily inspired,” Hargrove said. “I try to be open to inspiration by any avenue. I once did an entire collection that was predominately white, inspired by a black and white image of an albino peacock.”

Hargrove focuses on designs for the well-rounded modern woman: versatile pieces that can be worn to a business event and then the jacket removed for cocktails that evening. They feature a mix of over-the-top expensive- and inexpensive-looking items, a “mishmash of non-trendy things to wear in a trendy way.” He describes his clients as “Hamptons hipsters” or “Lollapalooza VIP meets champagne at J. Parker.”

Hargrove didn’t start out as a designer, though. His first love was painting. “I always had a paintbrush in my hand.” After his fine arts education, he specialized in live still contemporary portraits. “But I didn’t want to be a starving artist. My mom pushed me to look at fashion because it was more marketable.” He soon fell in love with fashion and did wardrobe styling for a year and a half. “I got tired of putting other peoples’ designs on models, though. I wanted to get my designs out there.”

A nudge from Project Runway soon helped Hargrove become a household name.

“A producer emailed me and said he was interested in my collection.” When Hargrove sent in his application, he immediately got a call to audition the next week. “They loved my collection. Then, they asked me to come the next day for a screen test.” Within 2 weeks, he received a contract for the show.

Being on Project Runway wasn’t quite what Hargrove expected. Of course, “reality TV” is a really loose term. “No one wants to just watch people make clothes for 16 weeks.” So a lot of what they tape ends up cut. The results? You see characters instead of people, and they aren’t always portrayed in the best light. “I was painted as being bratty, and that’s just not me.” The crew creates a story to keep the audience interested.

But what followed has been an amazingly positive experience! “Everyone from our season celebrates each other’s projects and helps each other. One contestant is from Milwaukee, which is near Chicago, where I live, and she invited all of us to do a charity fashion show. A lot of good has come out of this.”

So what is Hargrove doing now? “I’m in the process of finishing my spring 2019 collection. Our fall looks were a big shift from what we did before. They were more detailed, and I’m continuing in that vein for spring. Everything is more intricate and one-of-a-kind.”

For the fall collection (images featured here), Hargrove developed a unique lookbook to showcase the work. “Lookbooks are done digitally now, so we wanted to shoot the whole thing on an iPhone like friends taking pictures of each other using filters from Instagram and make a quality physical lookbook with the Zno app.” The results are outstanding and unique, just like Hargrove’s designs.

Hargrove is also looking into contracts with stores and is doing custom work on the side, which can be seen at againstallodds.us or on Instagram at againstallodds_chicago. Because he wants to use his passion to help others, he is also working with charities like Art of Freedom, which fights human slavery and trafficking.