There's nothing more exciting than seeing brand new designers making their debut at NYFW, even more exciting when they have only just graduated. Whilst in New York for New York fashion week I went to see the Art Institute's NYFW SS17 collection where nine designers debuted their work. I took a quick trip backstage ahead of the show to interview four of the designers showing their collection, Esther Ashiru, Bianca Zidk, René Mejia, and Maria D’Ocon to chat to them about their inspiration and their plans for the future.
A Graduate of the BFA Fashion Design program, 2016, from The Art Institute of Vancouver, Ashiru has always loved fashion and even at school would make her own skirts and clothes for her dolls. She has certainly come a long way since then with her collection of couture evening wear made with silk organza and lace. Ashiru tells me her inspiration for her collection was “A castle in Dublin, Ireland. My ideal woman would be someone who walks the red carpet, celebrities, brides and of course regular women.” With a beautiful collection of couture evening wear Ashiru’s favorite piece would probably be, “The black cape and bustier.” As for Ashiru’s plans for the future, “I want to create high end ready-to-wear.” The collection was absolutely stellar, mixing traditional elegance and glamour but with a modern twist. The cape detailing that ran through the collection gave the dresses and skirts an updated twist, whilst adding depth and glamour to the pieces.
A Graduate from the BFA Fashion Design program, 2016, from The Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago, Zidk is “Dressing the forward thinking, free spirited woman. She is from 18-38 and super fun and funky. My favorite look is number 8. The dog jacket. I have a pug dog and the dog embroided on the jacket is inspired from my own dog.”
Zidk knew she wanted to be a designer from the age of 12, “I was inspired by Betsey Johnson, I actually got to meet her in 2012.” Zidk’s collection was a gorgeous explosion of color. Even for someone like myself who has a penchant for all black, the collection had me pinning to add some of her collection into my own wardrobe. Some of the stand out pieces for me included a cropped orange and pink skirt jacket with matching pink skirt and gorgeous wide sleeved pink and orange patchwork dress. The collection was beautifully cohesive, fun and ignited visions of London and one of my favorite era’s, the 60’s.
A mix of cultures heavily influences Meji as the collection has the inclusion of Egyptian, Asian influence, with the use of the mandarin collar and even Parisian culture as some of the dresses in the collection reflected Parisian architecture.
The collection was made up of ethereal, simple yet knock out pieces that despite the mixed inspiration of cultures remained cohesive and with his color palate of pink hues, greys and silk organza has created a collection that is romantic and feminine but strong all at once.
Designing itself ignites fond memories of D’Ocon childhood and her grandmother. D’Ocon took her first sewing class in high school whilst her grandmother sewed in Spain, although she has now sadly passed away, D’Ocon is always reminded of her when she goes back to Spain and sews, “It’s like being back with my grandmother." Of this collection and D'Ocon's favorite look? The last look, it’s the most traditional, the lace was sewn by hand and it took me over 100 hundred hours.” In the future D’Ocon tells me, “ I am open to any opportunity to work in bridal.” However D'Ocon is already making custom dresses, her work and talent precedes her as she is gaining more customers just by word of mouth, "The last dress I made was for a flower girl.” She smiles.