During a recent trip to the Ant Hill boutique, North Loop 1604 East, designer Anthony Ryan showed off his new designer collection, including reasonably priced accessories such as purses, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. The boutique opened in April of 2015.
You might remember Ryan, who was a contestant on season nine of ‘Project Runway,’ but lost out on the big win. He came back for season two of “Project Runway Allstars” and won. Since then, he opened the The Ant Hill in Stone Oak Plaza. The store is upscale chic, but the prices are affordable, even for students.
When it comes to fashion philosophy, Ryan has a few simple rules every student will understand: “Everyone should be able to afford it. Spend more on basic pieces. And, cool separate pieces work together.”
He also has some fashion no-no’s: “I believe too much jewelry is a bad thing. If you put five pieces of jewelry on, take two off,” Ryan said. “I also believe that showing too much skin isn’t sexy. It’s better if you show skin in one place, not everywhere. Less skin is sexier.”
On the afternoon of my visit, a customer came in looking for a black and white gown for an upcoming ball. Ryan was on the move, and went looking in the back. The clothes around the boutique range from casual-business attire to a night out on the town. Ryan does it all on his own, without any employees.
Ryan said his favorite designers at the moment are Alexander Wang, Kate Spade and Diane von Fürstenberg.
“I feel that fashion should tell a story,” he said.
On the Runway
Lots of designer’s stories were on display last week when fashionistas and fashionistos all around San Antonio gathered in Market Square’s Centro de Artes for Fashion Week, held Nov.1-8. Anthony Ryan was there too, showing off his Spring/Summer 2016 Collection.
The normally quiet downtown campus of A&M-San Antonio was transformed into an up-scale, white-on-white fashion hotspot with pink and blue lights. Cocktails were encouraged. Bars were set-up throughout the building so those in attendance could linger before and after the show.
Spotted: VIP labels BCBG, Urban Outfitters and other brands. From brightly colored dresses to dark colored pantsuits, fashion was the topic for the night and and international designers put their best foot forward.
“My inspiration for my collection would be ‘Star Wars’ meets the 60’s with some floral,” Ryan said, on the scene. “Movies and music really inspire me with my pieces.”
“I feel like my line is something you can wear all year, it’s not seasonal,” he added.
“My favorite non-conventional piece for ‘Project Runway’ would have to be my birdseed dress. Even though it was made out of bird seeds, it looks like something you could actually wear.”
Originally from Baton Rouge, Ryan said he knew he wanted to get into design when he sewed his grandmother’s quilt at a young age.
Ryan had no plus-size clothing in the store or on the runway, offering that making plus-size clothing is something he’s always struggled with, even during ‘Project Runway’ where one of his challenges was to make an outfit for a woman with curves.
The last winner of ‘Project Runway’ was plus-size designer Ashley Tipton. “I think it’s great that she won. Her designs are interesting.”
Ryan said even though it’s a challenge, he’s in the process of making plus-size clothing.
“Right now I’m afraid to embrace curves but I do know a little stretch goes a long way,” he said.
His current line runs extra small through extra large and prices range from $25-$125.
Ryan said he does want to expand his boutique, but not in San Antonio.
“I would like to expand but in another city,” he said. “People always ask me why I didn’t open the shop in Baton Rouge, but honestly, I had to get out of there.”
He’s considering opening another boutique in Dallas, Houston or in Baton Rouge.