By Felicia Levine
As a kid growing up in Coral Springs, Amanda Perna designed dresses for her Barbie dolls, spray-painted sneakers in funky colors and created stages for plays starring the neighborhood kids (whose costumes she made, of course).
Fast-forward to 2016 and she’s a fashion star on a national stage. She has appeared twice on the reality TV competition show Project Runway, where her bold, playfully elegant women’s wear resonated with viewers of seasons nine and 14.
They still do.
“People now know my brand,” she says. “Sometimes they stop me on the street or at the airport.”
It happens a lot in Delray Beach, where the designer recently opened The House of Perna – a fashion atelier and boutique in the Eleven Salon and Spa, 1440 N. Federal Highway – where she offers her exclusive ready-to-wear collection and couture.
“For the first time customers can come and shop right off the racks,” says Perna, 29, who’s also worked for Calvin Klein and Oscar de la Renta.
“They can also come for custom fittings or order from our spring/summer 2016 collection,” adds Perna, a University of Alabama fashion design graduate whose famous fans include TV personality Kelly Osbourne, former Real Housewives of New York City star Kristen Taekman and WSVN Deco Drive anchor Lynn Martinez.
Locals can also choose from her new Studio Collection, a more affordable “roll and go” line of jersey separates and beach cover-ups starting at $68, along with her Home Textiles Collection and line of men’s ties.
Oh, and in her spare time, Perna is collaborating with Versakini on its spring/summer 2016 swimsuit collection.
“It’s been a crazy, busy and exciting year,” says Perna, who split her time between South Florida and New York before making Delray Beach her permanent home with filmmaker husband Solomon Strul, 29.
“I’m very much a Florida person,” says Perna, who often can be spotted walking the beach or Atlantic Avenue with Sprul and their Yorkshire Terrier, Bruno. “I love the weather and I’m very close with my family, who all live here.”
Indeed, the whole clan gathered to watch Season 14 of Project Runway — the most recent — during which Perna lasted through the fifth episode. No one was more impressed with her performance than her dad, Frank Perna.
“She’s driven and hard-working but what I’m most proud of is that she is very giving,” he says.
She pours that same passion and compassion into her work.
“I believe in creating pieces that make women feel beautiful,” Perna says. “There’s so much sadness in the world already. I’d like to make it a little happier.”