Designer’s spotlight QuestionsBy Admin | Comments: 0 | March 16, 2018
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- Tell us about a day in the life of MARIANA VALENTINA
Before I get into designing, I usually go out for a big lunch and refresh my mind and then begin to go over everything I have to do that day. I am not a morning person- I work best late at night so I usually start my day around 10-11 am. Without sleep, I lose inspiration or motivation- it’s really important to me even if I am up working until 3 in the morning. I get most of my inspiration/ideas as soon as I get to bed at night. Then I usually try to get up and write it all down before I fall asleep. I also get a lot of my ideas in the shower. If it’s the summer, I am usually in the Hamptons and I like to take a dive in the ocean before getting to work. The serenity of the ocean really puts my mind at ease which helps me to concentrate later in the day.
- Growing up, did you always know you wanted to be a designer, if so who were you influenced by?
Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a designer. I was at a ballet school for 15 years until I left high school which could have lead to another career path for me. But I always knew fashion and creating was my real dream. So I decided to quit dancing and moved to NYC to attend FIT. I couldn’t have been happier. During my years at ballet, beginning around the age of 7, I found an old sewing machine in my mother’s house, taught myself to sew, and started making my costumes for the ballet performances. As I grew into a teenager, I started making my own clothes to go to class. While my friends were watching cartoons, I had the European channel on to watch the Paris fashion week shows. I became obsessed. I loved every part of it. My grandmother, from Argentina, used to have a tailor make all of her clothes from scratch in the 50s and 60s- she would design and buy all of the fabrics herself. My father is a landscape architect and designs properties for his clients in the Hamptons. I think the creative side runs in the family for sure.
- What project(s) have you worked/working on?
Right now I am focusing on promoting the Spring/Summer 2016 collection. The collection was inspired by Indian spices and its rich vibrant colors. Most of the pieces were actually embroidered in India and I feel like the designs really bring out the original inspiration. I usually work with fluid jersey fabrics that are comfortable but sexy with enough drape to accent the womans sensual body. In this collection I used some beaded embroideries to bring out more of the colors in the story. I am also working on a lot of custom designs for clients who have events, parties, and weddings to attend. I am also working on 2 custom wedding gowns.
- You have created numerous collection/design such as [The Land of Spices]. These designs were inspired by [India- specifically its spices and volcanic nature]. Give us full details why these design where inspired by [India and its vibrant colors/land] and how it relate to you as a designer.
Before I begin designing a new collection, I try to gather all of my ideas and put them all together into one story. I am usually sketching my different visions onto paper all year long and somehow most of the sketches translate into one theme. I then put them together and create the story. My inspiration for my designs usually come from a film I saw that year, an art exhibition, architecture, foreign lands, nature, or music. I then put together a color scheme that correlates to the story I am creating and makes sense with the upcoming season. Then I source the fabrics according to the colors and story that I chose. I usually work with fluid fabrics such as silk charmeuse, silk jerseys, silk chiffons, etc.
- Provide us some illustrations of how your designs have transformed into higher sales or greater visibility for your clients?
I have learned what my clients really want after getting feedback at the boutiques. It is good to hear criticism whether it’s positive or negative so I can really understand if the construction if the garment is working on the woman’s body. My main goal when designing is not only to make a woman look beautiful, accentuating their bodies and sensuality, but to make sure they are comfortable and confident in what they are wearing. Confidence makes you feel more attractive. I’ve learned that color is really important when selling to different clients- every woman has a different skin color and hair color, so the color of the dress she is wearing really makes a difference.
- MARIANA so have you ever had a project go over finances or beyond schedule and tell us how you’ve dealt with this?
Yes- this can happen often and you really have to try not to stress about it and figure out the most logical solution possible. Sometimes I am prepping for a runway show and I may have not finished all of the designs for the show and I will be up all night sewing something completely new because you cannot always rely on your seamstress or patternmaker. Sometimes a client will ask for a dress to be made in a specific fabric that is way too expensive and after I make and she is not fully satisfied with the design I have to start over and I end up not making any profit. Everything is really a trial and error along the way. You just have to see it as a lesson learned every time.
- Has there ever been a time, were the general public have been critical or praised your designs, do you let success or negative feedback get to you and if so what keeps you motivated?
I really have no “manpower” or “design team” helping me with my design process or inspiration- it all comes from me. Of course I have a seamstress and patternmaker to help me with the sewing but they really have no say in the design aspect. I honestly never hear negative feedback except for my designs might be too “racy” but I do easily get discouraged if a boutique or buyer I reach out to doesn’t respond to me or simply isn’t interested. I stay motivated by focusing on the positive parts of my business and moving forward to the next step. There is always something better, bigger waiting to happen so you just have to keep going. If you stop, you die. And if I stop creating, I really do feel lifeless, depressed.
- What separate you from other designers?
I try to stay as true to myself as possible. Sometimes I won’t look at a Vogue or a recent collection from designer for months at a time so I can think fresh without getting too influenced by what’s going on now and what everyone else is doing. I want to stay as original as possible, yet classic, keeping my “signature” look so people can actually recognize my work and relate to it in a way.
- If you could make anything where budgets, resources or time in not an obstacle, what would it be?
I have recently been invited to several international shows that I would love to be a part of but unfortunately way over the budget at the moment. For example I was invited to show on the Seine River in a glass boat with a runway in Paris. I was also invited to Dubai fashion week, which is one of the places I have always wanted to visit. I think there is a huge opportunity in the Middle East for me, especially when it comes to evening wear and dressing women up. I will be reaching out to boutiques around the Middle East this winter. I think it would be amazing to put a show together in the penthouse of the Burj Khalifa which happens to be the tallest building in the world, with a collection made from gorgeous fluid fabrics that are hard for me to access right now.
- Where do you normally source your raw material from?
I usually source my materials from a few local fabric stores in NYC, especially for my custom pieces- I want to make sure I can see it, touch it, feel it to make sure it is the exact fabric I am looking for. The past year I have worked with a manufacturer in India and they have provided a lot of silks and beadings for my latest collections.
- How would you rank collections you’ve designed and your level of experience to your market?
I have been showing with NY fashion week for about 3 years now and I feel that I have improved my collections every year-specifically when it comes to a better fit, more creative stories, and my overall vision. I am creating what I think women really want, not just what I want now. I am also thinking more about what is sellable (when it comes to a silhouette, fabric or color) and less of what just “looks good” on the runway or model.
- What strategies do you employ when it comes to choosing the right team to shoot your collection(s)?
When I am putting together a shoot for a new collection, everything I choose depends on the story/theme of the designs. The look of the model is super important whether we are going dark, sexy, light, fun, classic, etc. She has to exude that feeling and she has to have a strong character/personality because that is the woman who wears my dresses. She has to tell the story of my inspirations through the camera. I tend to use the same photographers a lot if I like what they did on our last shoot. I am shooting next week with a new photographer but I am excited to see his vision. It is really important that we are all on the same page when it comes to the overall execution of the shoot. It takes a lot of time and patience and you have to keep everyone in a good mood and let them express their ideas as well. The location is also really important to reveal what I am trying to envision.
- You graduated with [Bachelors in Science Degree] from [The Fashion Institute of Technology] tell us about the collection you designed for your final year and tell us about your final year thesis.
I attended FIT to learn the business side of the industry. So I first studied Textile Developments and Marketing, then onto Advertising and Marketing Communications where I learned SO many different aspects of the industry. The design major was so focused on sewing and patternmaking and I really wanted to leave with something more than that. I wanted to feel more aware of the real business world out there.
- Three to two decades ago, fashion and art are entirely unlike, do you incorporate art or other mediums in your design if so, what does fashion mean to you and do you have any muses?
I think I really create as a form of an outlet for my feelings. I am a really sensitive person- I feel everything very deeply. My mind is always racing with ideas, emotions and moods. Some people meditate or go to therapy or exercise- I design. This is my own form of therapy. It’s really hard for me to control my emotions and designing something beautiful sort of just makes everything feel better. I definitely consider my designs a form of art and I am inspired by all other forms of art as well. I find myself feeling inspired by different women at different times- kind of like phases- I never really had one muse.
- When you aren’t designing what else do you like to do?
My other love in life besides designing is the ocean. I love being at the beach, swimming and inhaling the sea. It calms me down. I also enjoy writing. I usually write songs or poems depending on my mood. If I have any free time I love to travel. I really enjoy visiting countries I haven’t seen- exploring their people, food and culture. I used to dance ballet for many years, but I can’t ever seem to find the time to take classes- maybe I am afraid to see I have lost my talent. But I always miss it. I go to watch the ballet several times a year. For fun I love going to new restaurants with friends and enjoying a good bottle of wine.
- MARIANA any advice for aspiring designers or anyone looking to get into this market?
The most important advice I could give is don’t give up the dream or vision you have no matter how many times you have been turned down or discouraged. Stay true to yourself. Believe in yourself. And follow your instincts.