In 4 years of writing it's only happened once - an article that didn't go to print. Here it is with location references removed. Names have been changed to protect the innocent!
IT'S MY SOUL
Growing up in a rural area of Europe, "Monica" was exposed to garments sewn from beautiful natural fabrics with unusual textures. Exploring attics with her friends sparked an interest in old found objects and her grandmother, who was amazing at sewing, knitting – any hand work, had a strong influence. But in the end, designing for her is about joy. “I'm in the business because I love it. It's the love of creating things with my hands and the love of the whole culture. I just really enjoy the ride.
Inspired by photos sent from an aunt in "The West", "Monica" moved here at the age of 19. She added to her fashion knowledge by working as a fashion model, studying design and then working for two years in Milan (“Milan really has the best quality. It is like nothing you'll see anywhere else as far as workmanship and materials.”) Returning to The West, she decided it was time to begin work on her own line and she started with a small collection in one store. Growth came quickly and she soon found herself with an international market. But there was something missing. When a retail space opened, she decided to walk away from wholesale and embrace a new direction. “I noticed when I travelled around that my pieces would get lost among all the other designers. I wanted to see my collection represented a certain way. To me, opening a store was that. Although on a very small budget, it was my vision and the way I wanted to see my collection presented.”
"Monica" began to develop her design esthetic at a very early age. She remembers, “I started out sewing because I couldn't find the stuff I wanted to wear. I made these humongous men's pants when I was 12 years old. They were crazy looking pants which my mom hated. I just wanted to wear them all the time.” The garments she produces today are influenced by who she is as an artist at that moment of conception and what materials are available. There is no spring or fall collection – just an organically changing array of shapes and textures with a European, old world feel. “I like being balanced and I have that in the collections. We have really fitted, beautiful pieces and then we have crazy, where ever it falls, it falls pieces.” The current palate leans heavily on black but there are pops of colour such as the bright red “Parachute Dress” with hand knit detail. Everything is done by hand. “I love the feeling of the fabric and I love manipulating it. I don't like structure. I prefer working with the material and whatever it gives me.”
Creation begins with the raw materials and that involves constant travel. She looks for old-style, natural fabrics (particularly hand-woven) and found objects including old leather belts and skeleton keys - all sorts of “rusty, old objects that no other designer would consider.” "Monica" stops by people's homes when visiting Europe and scours flea markets in "Asia". Even her parents keep a keen eye out. With limited supplies, everything is used sparingly. “That's why my collections are so special. Everything is hand-made and hand finished. I go all over the world to collect things and I incorporate those objects to make it an art piece. It's not just fabric, it's everything like little knickknacks, leather bits, buckles and buttons from 100 years ago.
Natural fabrics, organic designs and unusual found objects, "Monica"'s collection is flowing, edgy and imbued with an old world charm - timeless garments for those appreciate fashion as art. “Every single piece that comes out of my hands are my thoughts and what I feel. It's my soul in everything that I do. It's a form of expression and something that's really dear to me.”