Style Counsel: Project Runway Vet Tessa Clark Says Her Parents Inspired Her Luxury Clothing Brand

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Occupation: Owner, Grind and Glaze; manager, Idlewild Woman
Style: Unrefined luxury

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

What inspired your luxury women’s clothing brand, Grind and Glaze?
My upbringing in rural Greenville, Ohio. My father is a miller. My mom is a self-taught ceramicist. Grind and Glaze—grinding of grains and glazing of ceramics—is inspired by them.

Your designs use “a refined approach to rural roots.”
Refined being more feminine and sexy, and rural roots being where I pull my inspiration. I’m attracted to unrefined aesthetics, like raw hem and textural fabrics, but I really like sensual silhouettes and luxury fabrics, so I combine those.

You sell online and at Idlewild Woman, where you’re the full-time sales and marketing manager and buyer.
Selling at Idlewild has given me the opportunity to hear feedback from real women wearing my clothes. I would love to [lower] my production cost so I can [sell] wholesale and get in more stores.

Sustainability is important to you. Why?
In school, I learned [the fashion industry] is one of the most polluting industries in the world. I vowed to never add to the destruction. It’s important that people who make my garments are paid livable wages. I choose natural textiles. If I’m using synthetics in my clothes, they’re sustainably made.

You’re a cast member on the 17th season of Project Runway, which airs into June. What did this experience teach you?
I learned techniques that I had never learned in school. I definitely grew as a designer. Christian Siriano’s mentorship and hearing the judges’ feedback was unparalleled to feedback I’ve received before. The whole experience was amazing, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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