If you’ve picked up one of the classic, feminine pieces by Pearl Southern Couture at your nearest Hemline boutique, you might recognize the name responsible for the dainty label: Fashion Star competitor and LSU alumna Amber Perley.
Last year Perley finished seventh on Fashion Star, NBC’s answer to design competition Project Runway. After launching her own business and clothing line in 2008, Perley took the leap to televised competition at the encouragement of family and friends.
Even with five years of professional fashion design under her stylish belt, working under the camera lens was a new level of stress.
“I don’t know if I ever got used to it,” Perley says. “You’re always on camera. You just have to try to pretend that they’re not there and focus on your work and tune them out. It was something like I never experienced before.”
Small-screen glory for this Dallas native meant bringing a taste of the South to a national audience. Perley describes her design style as the essence of feminine southern charm, full of flirty skirts and ruffles. The cultures of Austin, Baton Rouge and Dallas—the Deep South cities she’s called home—remain her greatest inspirations.
Though she bowed out earlier in the season than she had hoped, Perley has no regrets about the grueling weeks she spent competing on location in California. “I turned 30 on set, which was crazy,” Perley says. “The producers got together and bought me a birthday cake.”
Her time on Fashion Star made her childhood dream of selling her designs to Saks Fifth Avenue a reality, and the exposure has pushed Perley’s brand into the public eye.
So what’s next?
Her football-inspired line hit stores ear- lier this fall, with chic game-day wear in the colors of top athletic universities like Texas A&M and, of course, LSU. Baton Rouge fashionistas can check out the collection Oct. 8-11 at Hollydays at the River Center, where Perley will be a featured designer. pearlsoutherncouture.com, juniorleaguebr.org/hollydays