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Q&A with designer Jesus Romero

By: Georgia Schumacher Filed under: Fashion

February 1, 2015

Jesus Romero profile

Jesus Romero
Current student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fashion Design, The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

"I realized that fashion school was not that different from the military. Discipline and dedication were key to both and the skills I had acquired in the Army would come in handy to succeed in this new endeavor."

Jesus Romero was born in Tucson, Arizona, but grew up in a small town in Mexico. He returned to the United States when he was 17 and joined the military a year later, serving in Afghanistan and Korea. When he completed his military service, he relocated to San Francisco to study fashion. Jesus enjoys drawing but his passion lies in 3-dimensional design development, with ideas evolving as he drapes, cuts, and sews.

Jesus was awarded 2nd place in 2013 the Cool vs. Cruel fashion design competition, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and The Art Institutes. In June 2014, he won student awards for Most Marketable collection and Best-in-Show. Jesus interned at the San Francisco Play House and currently works as a personal stylist and fit specialist at a custom men's suiting company. He is also part of a four-member design collective at his school, helping each other to develop and grow as designers.

The Art Institutes: What is your point of view when it comes to your collection?

Jesus: My point of view as a designer evolves every day. What remains the same is that I want to create something modern, yet nostalgic. Relevant to tomorrow—yet with a yearning for yesterday.

The Art Institutes: Describe your design process for this collection.

Jesus: What originally inspired me to enter the field of fashion continues to inform this collection: Art Deco architecture with its strong lines and bold curves, and black and white movies from the 1920s and 1930s. I was drawn to this world of glamor and luxury—and what it meant to be part of the Hollywood fantasy during this era. I wanted to bring that world into a modern setting.

I often ask myself what would Marlene Dietrich have worn in certain situations—how would she behave and move? I base a lot of my decisions on scenarios that play in my mind and I try to incorporate the spirit of that era into every piece I design. One of the things that strikes me the most is how the silver screen was able to communicate so much color, texture, and life in only black and white. I restricted myself to this color palette and then I begin playing with texture and patterns and lines.

My design process develops through problem-solving in three dimensions. My work is a product of research and development—for that reason I can't judge whether it is cool or not. But I know for a fact that my work clearly reflects my state of mind.

The Art Institutes: Describe how your education prepared you for this opportunity.

Jesus: When I started my education, I had a completely different road planned ahead of me. [My fashion courses have] helped me push my creativity and gain a better understanding of the industry. I never sewed a single thing in my life previous to being in school, and sometimes I felt I must have been crazy to make such a drastic change from my past life in the U.S. Army!

I remember my first sewing class with instructor Cindy Chow. Watching her professionalism and commitment to perfection, her knowledge and ability to make the impossible happen, I realized that fashion school was not that different from the military. Discipline and dedication were key to both and the skills I had acquired in the Army would come in handy to succeed in this new endeavor. Since then I have been fortunate to have many mentors at school, many of whom I call my friends.

The Art Institutes: Which designers inspire you?

Jesus: My favorite designer of all time is Cristobal Balenciaga. I can't help but be mesmerized by the results he got draping and molding fabric on the body.

Other designers whose work I admire [include] Madame Vionnet, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Charles James, and Christian Dior.

The Art Institutes: What design blogs or publications do you like to read?

Jesus: I have the Conde Nast Vogue app on my phone. I love The New Yorker, and because I work at a menswear suiting company, I keep up with a lot of the menswear trends and styles. I collect large-scale fashion books. The last one I bought was "David Bowie: Album by Album.” I'm inspired by an eclectic mix of things, including publications and blogs.

The Art Institutes: How are you preparing for the runway event?

Jesus: I'm very excited about New York! I have never been there in my travels, but I feel as if I am going home. I'm getting a pinstripe suit made that I may or may not wear for the show. I'm working really hard on getting everything ready for the show—not sleeping a lot. I know Fashion Week will be a loaded schedule, but I want to make sure that I can visit a couple of places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I'm trying to learn as much as possible about what I'm getting into, so I don't look stupid. And finally I'm focusing on learning about social media, as I'm a little technologically challenged.

Stream the show live at 8PM on Tuesday, February 17. Find out how—and get the date on your calendar!

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