Q&A with designer Nina Perdomo
Filed under: Fashion
February 1, 2015
Current student pursuing an Associate of Applied Arts, Fashion Design, The Art Institute of New York City
"When I began my internship at Diane von Fürstenberg, I realized that without the knowledge I gained in school, it would've taken me much longer to [get to where I am today]."
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Nina began sketching and designing sneakers while in high school. She served in the U.S. Navy, stationed in San Diego, California as an engineer. Being in the Navy expanded her perspective of the world—and after being honorably discharged in 2012, she decided to revisit her love for fashion design. Her education at The Art Institute of New York City has helped her to blend the skills she learned in the military with her inherent fashion creativity. Nina is building her industry experience as a ready-to-wear intern at Diane von Fürstenberg.
The Art Institutes: Describe your collection.
Nina: The "Paradigm" collection is designed for a woman that is confident in herself. This type of woman is strong, outspoken, and knows exactly what she wants from life. I call her "the conscious woman." The conscious woman likes to wear edgy silhouettes, textures, colors, prints, and isn't afraid of being distinct.
The Art Institutes: What was your design process for this collection?
Nina: I chose five different inspirations and I began to separate them by the way they made me feel visually. This included the colors, the shapes, and the textures. I then narrowed them down from five to the two that I felt the strongest about, and began to do research. I chose to research two different inspirations because it gave me something to compare. It helped me choose the inspiration [that] best represented the type of woman I imagined designing for. Once I finalized the inspiration, I started sketching. I sketched about 40 different looks before narrowing them down to ten.
Once I had an idea of what the ten looks were going to be, I began looking for fabric. I like to look for fabric after I sketch because I feel as though it's easier to look for fabrics that fit well with the design versus designing a garment that fits well for the fabric. With that said, I always keep my sketches, and copies of my inspiration with me, for reference when I'm deciding on fabric. I like to pick at least 2-3 different fabric choices for each garment to give myself a variety. Once I'm done swatching, I lay out all of the fabric choices and decide the ones that work well with each look, the color story, and most importantly—ones that will keep the fabrication consistent.
I then sketch my final croquis (a rough drawing). This allows me to get me an idea of the collection before production begins, and it also allows me to make any last minute changes to fabric choices, colors, and designs.
The Art Institutes: Describe how your education prepared you for this opportunity.
Nina: Before I attended The Art Institute of New York City, I didn't realize how intense the process of designing clothes could be. Although I naturally developed a sense of style, I had minimal sketching skills, absolutely no sewing experience, and I knew very little about the history of fashion. When I began my internship at Diane von Fürstenberg, I realized that without the knowledge I gained in school, it would've taken me much longer to [get to where I am today]. The most vital skills I learned from school would be how to sew and how to drape. I've always had the vision, but now with these skills I can bring my vision to life.
The Art Institutes: Which designers inspire you?
Nina: I am absolutely in love with Rick Owens. His designs are timeless and subtly beautiful. I love the way he uses different shades of the same color, I love the proportions he uses and how each collection is almost an extension of the previous one.
I am also inspired by Alexander Wang. I love how he is forward thinking with prints, fabric choices, and details.
The Art Institutes: What design blogs or publications do you use as inspiration and reference?
Nina: Womens Wear Daily - wwd.com, Style.com, Complex Magazine - complex.com/style, Snobiety - http://www.highsnobiety.com, Hypebeast - http://hypebeast.com, -i-D Magazine, and Nylon Magazine.
The Art Institutes: How are you preparing for the runway event? What has it taught you about the industry?
Nina: Everyone that I know has been very supportive of me, from classmates offering to help out when they can, to family members giving words of encouragement. The support has been the biggest part of preparing me for this event. Without the encouragement and faith in myself, none of this would have been possible. I'm learning that timing is everything. You have to set proper deadlines for yourself and make sure that you are giving yourself enough time to accomplish each goal accurately.
With this collection, I'm using fabric manipulation that I haven't had much experience with, such as pleats. I'm learning the difficulty of designing with pleats but this is important for me because I feel that by me perfecting such a difficult task on my own, it will only help build my confidence. [This will] help me remember techniques that will make the process easier in the future.
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