Fashion Week Q&A with Stephanie Castanon

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

January 28, 2016

Stephanie Castanon was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Spring Hill, Florida. She first explored her creativity by painting landscapes in high school. “I became moved by the idea of taking this [painting] concept and creating wearable artwork with fabric as my medium,” she says.

In 2012, Stephanie entered the Charlene Parsons Design Competition and won. In the years since, she’s earned second place in the 2013 Diet Coke Young Designer Challenge, won the Perry Ellis Award for womenswear during Miami Swim Week 2015, and was selected to present her designs in a fashion show sponsored by McDonald’s. The designs were created entirely out of McDonald’s packaging and were featured on sites including “Seventeen,” “The Daily Mail,” and “US Weekly.”

Stephanie volunteers in fashion shows to build experience and has worked in fashion events for Alexander McQueen, Michael Kors, Perry Ellis, Carolina Herrera, and Neiman Marcus with Ken Downing. She is a 2015 graduate of Miami International University of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design.

What was your vision for the New York Fashion Week collection?

My vision has always relied on the elements of nature. My latest collection embodies the quietude of winter after a thin layer of ice has formed on the sea surface. The designs capture soft, flowing movement, cave-like silhouettes, and iridescent glimmers that continue to exist beneath the surface.

I wanted to express the beauty of underwater life through colors, textures, and most importantly, reflections of light. The sequin material is the standout fabric of the collection, and it perfectly embodies the iridescent lighting that shines through water. The fabrics chosen all serve the purpose of portraying qualities that one would find beneath the ocean surface.

The overall collection is sporty with a hint of glitz.

How did you begin the creative process?

The first step in the process was establishing the inspiration, which ultimately [defined] the colors and textures that I kept in mind when searching for fabrics. I made sure to pay attention to the detail in textured surfaces, which I believe will allow the audience to instantly understand the concept behind my collection.

The silhouettes also play an important role in creating this story. I chose fabrics such as silk chiffon to imitate the gentle flow of water. I contrasted this with fabrics such as neoprene mesh to add a texture that can be found in underwater rocks or caves.

[I use] feedback from Stylesight/WGSN to make sure my fabric selections and design silhouettes are headed in the right direction [and in line with] upcoming trends.

How did your Fashion Design education help you to design the collection?

My education allowed me to take part in [this] incredible opportunity. I began school without ever having touched a sewing machine. Through each class, I gained a greater perspective in draping and construction.

In my Couture Techniques Class, [I had a real breakthrough]. This was when I first began to create intricate pieces with much more confidence and ease. This course allowed me to develop my own techniques and realize the endless possibilities that can be achieved through fabric manipulation.

How are you getting ready for the runway event?

A typical day involves spending many hours in the sewing lab, surrounded by endless rolls of pattern paper, tape, and crinoline. The biggest challenge is trying to maintain a balance between putting in enough time to perfect each garment and time itself—it tends to slip away pretty quickly throughout the process.

This opportunity has served as a great reminder of how far I have come [in] this journey. I’ve learned a lot about my ability to push forward through any obstacles that are encountered along the way.

What would you tell current fashion students?

I’ve realized that passion and determination are the two most important elements that will allow any aspiring fashion designer to succeed. It doesn’t matter where you begin as long as you are willing to give your best to create something you can be truly proud of.

Which designers, blogs, or publications inspire you?

Riccardo Tisci and Alexander McQueen are great examples of what it means to create art through fashion. Their designs portray a deep sensibility and romanticism that is captured through fabric textures and silhouettes. I admire how these designers are able to successfully carry out innovative concepts while also sending out powerful messages through their clothing.

WGSN/Stylesight and Style are my most commonly used references when it comes to researching the latest trends and materials for upcoming seasons. I am [also] drawn to photography that I find on websites such as Pinterest and Tumblr, as well as other artists I follow on Instagram. Not only do I focus on the subject matter of photographs, but I become inspired by the feeling/mood that they emit.

Watch the live broadcast here!

Check out the other designers participating in Fashion Week

View Stephanie’s sketches and inspiration board by clicking on the thumbnails


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