Dressing the Part

A breakout Georgia designer finds inspiration in her Southern roots

Photo: Jamie Hopper

Rising fashion star Abbey Glass crafts traditional-meets-modern clothing with Southern women in mind.

As a high schooler in Atlanta, Abbey Glass dreamed of fashion—literally. These weren’t flickering montages of runway glamour but rather ideas for specific clothing designs that woke her in the middle of the night. She soon learned to keep a pencil and sketch pad beside her bed. By her senior year, Glass had constructed dozens of garments and staged a runway show.

She went on to study her craft at Central Saint Martins in London (the alma mater of designers Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo), and then at Rhode Island School of Design, landing choice internships at both Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs along the way. But instead of heading to Manhattan or Los Angeles, as so many budding designers do, Glass set up her atelier in Atlanta.

“The personality of Southern women inspires my clothes,” she says. “And I have a breadth of ideas to pull from here.”

Her eponymous line of mostly dresses, skirts, and outerwear is at once youthful and mature, traditional but not derivative. “There is a poise and beauty in the timeless

Sketches and fabric samples.

Photo: Jamie Hopper


Sketches and fabric samples.

style of Southern women,” Glass says. “I design to find the perfect balance, classic with an unexpected twist, feminine without being frilly.” She relies heavily on mid-century Southern sartorial signatures—precision tailoring, elegant shapes, luxe fabrics—and then reinterprets them in a modern way. Her glamorous floor-length gowns, for instance, pair unlikely materials such as featherweight lambskin and chiffon, or charmeuse and striped organza. The effect is subtle but impactful.

Glass also frequently incorporates organic textures and elements into her designs. A black skirt adorned with gold-leaf foil nods both to nature and to the knack Southern women have for outdoor entertaining. “For next fall,” she says, “I found these really amazing textiles that remind me of tree bark and rivers. Still, we’re keeping shapes pretty similar. We design for our ladies.”

Glass’s clothing falls in the “bridge” segment of the fashion industry, a sweet spot between haute couture and off-the-rack designs. Like many young designers, she works primarily through showroom appointments and trunk shows, selling direct to customers and making the garments to order.

In addition to cultivating a loyal following in Atlanta, Glass is also picking up traction outside her hometown. The high-end boutique Gus Mayer plans to host upcoming trunk shows in its Nashville and Birmingham shops, and Glass recently held her first trunk show in Manhattan. A growing business presents a new set of challenges, but a year  and a half after producing her first full collection, the designer has no regrets about staking her livelihood on her dreams.

“A lot of people have told me that as soon as you make your passion your job, you risk ruining it,” she says. “But I think it has given purpose to what I do. You get to see other people enjoy the clothing, and be a part of the creativity. It’s a risk, but the reward is much, much higher.”