Tess Johnson


As far back as I can remember, I have always loved clothes. I can vividly remember playing dress up as a little girl. In 2007, I graduated from high school and started my life as designer. I spent 4 years studying at Parson The New School for Design, spent a semester in Paris, and many years interning. I graduated with a BFA in women’s wear designer after presenting my Senior Thesis, my first real collection. I then had the opportunity to compete on Lifetime TV’s show “24 Hour Catwalk”, where I successfully created a 3 look collection, and was chosen the winner. Since Parsons, I have shown a Resort wear collection in Miami, have been invited to participate in the AHA “Red of the Runway” event, had a featured mannequin display in Saks 5th Ave flagship store, received a Swarovski sponsorship, and slowly began to grown my brand.


My vision is to create couture, glamorous, show-stopping pieces, but with a twist. I want to make garments that make a statement, but maintain an edge of wearability. I want to see a woman walk into a room wearing a Tess Johnson piece and have the whole room notice her. My vision is to make garments that are strong, sexy and always flattering. I make pieces that have new and different silhouettes and prints, but familiar and fine materials. I love to explore nature for inspiration: birds, ocean, fish, or the mountains and the contrast and juxtaposition within these inspirations. This contrast creates interest and that is what I draw upon for my clothes.

Signature Style

Prints, draping, glamour


I am constantly influenced by contradiction. I love the play between hard and soft, strong and subtle; I think this is where interest lies, and where I find the most inspiration for my clothes.

Brand philosophy

The Tess Johnson brand strongly believes that high fashion doesn’t have to be confined to the runway. Tess Johnson creates unique garments that push the envelope, yet maintain a classic component to keep the pieces wearable.

Making it happen

I am always trying to make it happen! Fashion is always evolving, changing, and there are always new designers, ideas and trends. It is hard to stay relevant in this industry; you need to take risks and be ahead of the trends, and be true to one’s self and one’s vision. To make it happen, I need to continue to learn and be ahead of the season. I want to make my next collection just as successful as this one. Fashion changes everyday and I want to be that change, not just follow it.

Celebrity crush

My celeb crush is absolutely the late Alexander McQueen, his brilliance and talent were incomparable, he created the most magical stories through his collections and runway shows. I admire the talent and genius that he possessed. And, he was pretty cute!

What does New York City mean to you?

NYC is home to me. It gives me energy and inspiration. It is where I find my comfort and strength. As an American designer, this is the epicenter of design and I am proud to be based here.