A designer who hand-knitted Lizzo's rainbow outfit for an NYC Pride concert recalled how the star brought it to life
- Fashion designer Grace Insogna reflected on a hand-knitted rainbow outfit they made as part of their senior thesis in 2018 at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
- Insogna's design caught the eye of Lizzo, who commented "I need this" on an Instagram post of the outfit and asked if she could wear it to a 2018 Pride performance in New York City.
- The designer recently recounted the experience in a TikTok that was viewed thousands of times.
- Insider spoke to Insogna about their design philosophy and what it was like seeing their handmade garment on Lizzo.
When fashion designer Grace Insogna was a senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2018, they spent seemingly endless hours in the design lab creating a hand-knitted, head-to-toe rainbow outfit as part of their thesis project.
At the time, the designer had no idea that pop culture icon Lizzo would end up wearing the technicolor ensemble.
Insogna, whose personal design brand is known as DisGraceNY, recently posted a TikTok where they recounted the making of the meticulous rainbow outfit, and the moment they found out the "Truth Hurts" singer wanted to wear it for an NYC Pride performance in 2018.
Nearly two years after seeing Lizzo perform in the outfit that Insogna created from scratch, the fashion designer told Insider that the memory is still just as exciting as it was then
"It was hundreds of hours and sleepless nights. It was staying at the studio for 12 hours without any breaks and just knitting nonstop, and I did all of this without knowing what the outcome is going to be," Insogna said. "When I saw [Lizzo] had commented on one of my posts of the outfit and said 'I need this,' I completely lost it."
Insogna said they consider Lizzo a "personal hero" and someone who exhibits core values of the designer's style philosophy — which centers around inclusivity and creating fashion for people of all body types, identities, and abilities.
"I have younger nieces, and I hope that I'm a role model for them in accepting their own bodies and being comfortable in their own skin, but Lizzo is somebody who I would tell them, 'Look at her, she's so confident,'" Insogna said.
Insogna's design inspiration came from the LGBTQ flag, which made seeing Lizzo wear it during a Pride performance twice as special.
The designer, who became the first FIT student to send a plus-size model down the runway, said they went to great lengths to represent size inclusivity at their school's runway show.
For example, Insogna had to find their own supplies like mannequins and dress forms, and use their own money to hire a model for the garment fitting — while students who made non-plus-size designs were provided models and design supplies for free.
"It was very disappointing to me that I had to even advocate for having a plus-size model," Insogna said, adding that later seeing Lizzo performing in the handmade creation was a full-circle moment.
Insogna, who has been making clothes since they were a teenager, wants to play a role in giving all people the opportunity to participate in fashion
"My interest in fashion design started because my grandmother on my mom's side was a master seamstress. She could pick out the fabric and just make a custom-tailored garment," Insogna said. "I never got a chance, unfortunately, to learn from her because she had dementia and lost her memory and lost all of those skills. That, for me, was such a huge tragedy that her expertise wasn't able to be passed down."
Insogna said that as a teenager, they bought a sewing machine and started making size-inclusive clothes that, at the time, existed only in their imagination.
"I just experimented with pieces of fabric that looked like they were the right shape, and then I would cut and sew them together," Insogna said. "It was hard for me to find clothing that felt good on my body, either from me being fat or for me being gender nonconforming, so I just made my own clothes, and I did that for a while because I couldn't find what I wanted in stores."
Insogna, who now works full-time as a knitwear designer for a commercial women's fashion brand, said that they hope designs from their personal style brand — which can be explored on TikTok and Instagram — inspire all people to participate in fashion.
Insogna said they want to keep making clothes for people who are underrepresented in the fashion industry.
"My design philosophy is about designing with inclusivity in mind," they said. "I don't want people to feel like they can't participate in fashion because that's how I felt when I was a teenager and throughout my life."
Representatives of FIT did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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