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The Althea Harper look. (From left) A creation for "Project Runway," a model wearing Harper's TurnItOnFitness line, and a selection from her upcoming resort collection, due in May. (Photos courtesy of A. Harper)
CINCINNATI - The UC DAAP graduate who was a finalist on Lifetime's "Project Runway" is busier than ever, with several collections and a new arrival on the way.
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CINCINNATI - Remember when Dayton native Althea Harper became a finalist on "Project Runway?" That was season six of the show back in 2009. A graduate of University of Cincinnati's DAAP program (and Central Saint Martins in London), Harper continues to make her mark in the world of fashion.
She was selected to be on the fashion reality show shortly after graduating from DAAP. Since her TV stint, she's worked for Tory Burch, started her own label, ALTHEA HARPER, and expanded her collection.
"As many who are in creative fields, it's a dream to be able to work for yourself and have that flexibility," Harper said. "I love art and fashion but also enjoy the business side because it enables you to use both sides of your brain."
Harper now currently designs for her eponymous line and is a brand ambassador for Rowenta. She launched a fitness wear collection in October.
"A lot of times you'll see this nice high quality workout wear, but it lacks fashion or doesn't necessarily flatter a woman's figure," Harper said. "With Turn It On Fitness, I wanted to change the way workout wear is portrayed. I want it to be cute, sexy and something that has an element of that fashion from the runway."
WATCH: How to wear Turn It On Fitness
Harper will roll out a resort wear collection in early May. To top it off, she's working on what may be her best creation yet: her baby girl is due in two months.
Making it big
The world's leading labels only pick the most talented designers to work for them, and Harper fits the bill.
During her "Project Runway" moment, host Tim Gunn said, “Everyone thinks she’s only on the show because she’s a tall blond beauty. But she’s extremely talented. She’s going to blow people away."
While studying fashion design at DAAP, she interned for some of the best labels in the world including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Zac Posen and Ana Sui.
After filming "Project Runway" in Los Angeles, Harper's moment just kept going. She moved to New York City when Tory Burch invited her to design under her label.
And, if you think buying designer clothing is off the market, think again! Harper's line is well-made and affordable--with prices ranging from $25 on sale to around $450, depending on the season, fabric and complexity of the garment.
Connect with WCPO contributor Megan Fenno on Twitter @FENNOFashion and check out her website, FENNOFashion.com. Look for her column each Friday!
Correction: Season six of "Project Runway originally aired in 2009, not 2011"