Dressing Gordon Ramsay Steak: Allison Leach on designing the restaurant’s uniforms
Fri, Jul 13, 2012 (11:58 a.m.)
You could say Allison Leach didn’t know what she was getting herself into. The LA-based costume designer, who has worked as an assistant designer on shows such as Glee and Mad Men, neither watches nor owns a television. So she had never witnessed one of Hell’s Kitchen chef Gordon Ramsay’s explosive television tirades when she agreed to design the uniforms for his new restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris.
Turns out she had nothing to fear.
“He was such a gentleman,” Leach says. “When we met and he watched the private uniform fashion show he could not have been more engaged and complimentary. He understood and got the theme without me having to tell him.”
That theme started with the interior of the restaurant and took Leach on a stylistic journey from Paris to London. She wanted to create a feeling of leaving Paris by train and arriving in London. Accents inspired by the city are visible in the uniforms, including the male servers’ British banker navy pinstripes and pocket watch details reminiscent of Big Ben. Each server carries a pen on a pocket watch chain, and hostesses wear a pocket watch pendant engraved with Gordon’s knife pirate logo to remind guests that, just like the trains, the tables will run on time. Sexy Bond girls and the original Avengers show from the ’60s inspired the cocktail waitresses’ slick superhero look.
“I’ve always been inspired by the past,” Leach says. “These uniforms have a very nostalgic design. I took looks from the ’20s, ’60s and ’70s. It is these historical silhouettes that achieve longevity because it was beautiful then and still is now. It is elegance that will last.”
Making the uniforms last, however, required a different skill set for Leach. She had to create designs that would be as durable as they are fashionable, something her theater background helped her accomplish.
“The uniforms have to be worn seven nights a week, so there is something in that skill that’s unlike fashion design. It helps that I have a theater background. There is more of a crossover with theater than fashion, because theater costumes require that same durability and mobility,” Leach says.
Today, Leach’s fashions compliment the food that is the heart of Gordon Ramsay Steak, and the designer now holds Vegas close to hers. She even keeps a picture of the Vegas Eiffel Tower on her massive vision board in LA to remind herself that this city too is part of her story.