After spending significant time at New York’s Natural History Museum, designer Colleen Allen began fantasizing about the lives of paleontologists, traveling and excavating treasures in long digs. Using unconventional silhouettes and materials for her fall ’16 collection, the Chicago-born designer said she wanted to offer a perspective of ambiguity and gender exploration, all inspired by paleontology.
“Each collection I create is rooted in science as a ritual practice in which we can interact and understand history,” she said. “At the same time, I hope to subvert gender norms and provide men a wider palette to express themselves in dressing. I wanted to give the wearer this sense of exploration.”
Allen, a Parsons student, revealed her debut collection in spring ’15, and since has been honing her craft to produce workwear that “celebrates the individual spirit away from contemporary mass produced culture.” Her new collection blends traditional masculine and feminine silhouettes—skirts or a pinafore dress made from sturdy fabrics and adorned with giant silver hardware. A chunky knit and simple shirts add effortless ease, while a wrap jacket, cargo-style pants and an updated trench offer a dystopian feel.