Let's continue today the Academy of Art University thread that I started yesterday by looking at another graduate, Maria Romero. This interview was originally done for Zoot Magazine.
In May Sarah Burton, creative director at Alexander McQueen's, was invited to the Academy of Arts University.
After the BFA graduation show she congratulated all of the students for their shows and then offered two of them - Maria Romero and Zhangchi Wang - an internship.
Rather than presenting a proper catwalk show, Romero came up with a film featuring rag dolls dressed up in her darkly elegant gowns. While the film and the setting were meant to be romantic, the mood was nostalgic and harked back to childhood memories and to a world of delicate beauty lost forever.
Can you tell us more about your background?
Maria Romero: I was born in Santa Barbara, but was raised in a small village called Miramar, Mexico. I stayed there till I was 13, my dad worked the corn fields, my mom was a seamstress and I went to school. Both my grandmothers and their daughters were also seamstresses who crocheted, knitted, sew and embroidered. I always loved sitting with them while they embroidered on Sunday afternoons. I went to school in Mexico until I came to the States. I went to High School in Carpinteria CA, and when I became a senior I already knew I wanted to go into fashion.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career choices?
Maria Romero: My mum has been the biggest inspiration; I grew up watching her make my school uniforms, my clothes and my aunt’s graduation gown. I made my dolls and their dresses, and later on I made my little sisters’ dolls and Halloween outfits. By the time I was a senior in High School, I knew I wanted to go to fashion school and I found the Academy of Art. At the Academy I learnt a lot about the fashion world but one designer who really impressed me was the late Alexander McQueen, and, ever since I saw his shows online, I dreamt of one day working for the house of McQueen.
How did you come up with the idea of the dolls?
Maria Romero: For my creative process I was inspired by my childhood memories of nativity scene ceremonies where a small bag of candy is given to each person at the end, “Reliquias”. The textures and colours of the traditional Mexican candies and nativity scenes were really appealing to me. The memories of a happy child enjoying the time with her loved ones was something I kept thinking about while making my dolls and doing fabric manipulations. The idea of the film came about after showing my teacher, Simon Ungless, a series of draped dresses on a rag doll for my design class. He really liked what I showed him and we agreed on doing something different. The dolls seemed romantic and unique so they needed to come alive. When the movie played on that large LCD screen at the graduation show my heart stopped. I felt so honoured and happy I had the opportunity to showcase my work on such a scale, it was very emotional. I was really thrilled to hear all the positive feedback I was getting after people had seen the film.
Do you feel the dresses are imbued with a sense of nostalgia given the main theme of the collection?
Maria Romero: The dresses are a happy and innocent memory. The textures and the colours are meant to evoke the shades I remember from a long time ago. They are all a combination of a romantic interpretation of the memories of a child during Christmas time.
Was it challenging to make the video?
Maria Romero: Making the video was defiantly challenging, I could not have done it without my team. I admire their skills and hard work and I will forever be grateful for that!
What are your future plans?
Maria Romero: My goal was getting a McQueen internship. I am so excited I'm going to be working in the house of McQueen with Sarah Burton who is such an inspiration to me. I’m just looking forward to seeing where life takes me!
All images by Randy Brooke
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