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Interview: Alicia Estrada, Founder and Head Designer of Stop Staring!

A model shows off some Alicia Estrada designs
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By Gareen Darakjian, Special to LAist

Now that the future is looking grim, maybe embracing the past isn’t such a bad idea. While fashionistas look to ultramodern silhouettes for inspiration, Stop Staring! founder and head designer Alicia Estrada sees her visions in black and white. With a retro sensibility stitched through every piece, the vintage-inspired label which launched in 1996 samples from every era starting with the silver screen siren of the 40s to the groovy 60s pin-up to produce the ultimate in feminine fashion. As a begrudgingly aspiring accountant, the former punk chick could have never imagined trading invoices for inseams, but climbing the couture ladder, she discovered the formula for the perfect fit. We chatted with Alicia about her days of donning shower curtains, Paris Hilton’s brand loyalty and confessed our envy of her college experience. Hanging out with Sublime and No Doubt pre-fame? Jealous. ~

What about retro clothing draws you?

Back in my college days, I really loved retro. I was punked out and into bands like The Cramps and Agent Orange. I’d make my own clothes to mimic 60s meets punk rock. I’d wear leopard cigarette pants and fancy 40s-style dresses and turn them into punkish type dresses. I was really into the 60s in college. When everyone started wearing low rise pants and tube tops, it wasn’t punk anymore to me, so I decided to switch it up. As a girl who loved to be different, I naturally stared going 50s.

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When did you start designing?

I actually started sewing at age 16. I have six sisters and three brothers and money was kind of tight, so my mom taught us the basics of hemming and patching so we could sew our own clothes. We wore a lot of hand me downs so I had to get creative to wear clothes that matched my personality. I took it to the next level just sewing and sewing and eventually bought a heavy $30 machine and kept practicing.