Last week FAULT showcased the short-film “Ghostrider” from Los Angeles based designer Maria Dora staring Ira Chernova, whom was featured in FAULT ISSUE 8. The Designer was kind enough to send FAULT an amazing one-of piece from her latest Spring 2012 collection The Drammens. FAULT got a chance to speak with Maria Dora this past week. We found out about her design background, inspirations and plans for her line in 2012.
FAULT: Maria how are you? How was 2011 for you?
MD: Hey! Everything is good here, just getting over a cold at the moment. Both my brother and intern Allison are sick right now too, so the studio’s been quiet lately.But 2011’s was a great year — definitely full of surprises. Since I started the company this past February, 2011 was kind of insane — lots of up and down moments – but in a good way.
FAULT: Can you tell us about your design background?
MD: I ended up in design by accident — I was just trying to find an option besides law school, after getting a political science degree in 2007. An ex-boyfriend encouraged me to do the AAS degree at Parsons in NYC, so I decided to give it a shot. Parsons was a great experience, and I ended up interning at several brands, including Ohne Titel and (the now-shuttered) PHI. I went back to Los Angeles soon after graduation, and became the studio assistant for JC Obando in early 2009.
FAULT: You’ve worked for designer Juan Carlos Obando, what was that experience like?
MD: It was a valuable experience — I learned so much while I was there. He encouraged me to work on textile development — I think he was aware that if I constantly worked with my hands, I wouldn’t get bored. I learned how to airbrush, sculpt pleated silk and create complex embroidery because of him. It’s crazy — I currently don’t use any of those techniques, but the exposure certainly informs how I approach my own collection. I ended up staying there for five seasons, and I’m forever grateful that he took a chance on me.
FAULT: What made you decide to start your own collection?
MD: Honestly, it was age and money. I never thought I would have my own line — I envisioned myself working at a place like Calvin Klein or Donna Karen. But I was suddenly in my mid-twenties, realizing that if I was going to be making a certain income, might as well make clothes that spoke of my own vision – not someone else’s.
FAULT: Your pieces have so many details, is each piece hand-made?
MD: Most of the knitted and braided pieces are done by hand — I work with an amazing artisan who helps me pattern the knitted pieces, while the braided ones are individually sculpted and woven on a dress form. Although I have two interns who help me, some of the dresses, like the Ira and the Sonia, can take weeks to finish. We also have a few leather pieces that are completely hand-done as well. Those three pieces actually do not require sewing, besides the occasional snap. They rely on strategically placed slashes in the material to give them their shape — I drape each as one continuous piece of cowhide or deerskin.
FAULT: Do you have a preference of material you like to work with?
MD: At the moment, I really love knitting/crocheting with leather cord and tape — it’s something that will hopefully cross over from SS12 to AW12. Also for AW12, I just started working with a company from Wales that hand-dyes all of their yarns — I’m excited for that.
FAULT: What were some of the inspiration behind your SS12 collection, The Drammens?
MD: The research for this collection started with Norse armor and samurai undergarments — I wanted something clean and retro-futuristic, but still humble. The color palette was derived by my interpretation of Norse Mythology. Thinking about Odin, Sleipnir and the Rainbow Bridge — it inspired the shock of bright colors between the all of the white and black garments. The clothes are familiar and romantic, but bare in a nomadic sense.
FAULT: Can you tell us about the short films for The Drammens, was this your first time working with Mason Poole and Ira Chernova?
MD: These are the first films I’ve ever worked on, so I was really lucky to come across these two at different times, prior to the shoot. They’re incredible photographers, so I’m glad we could all get together and work on this project. Mason has a definite and strong vision, while Ira is smart and insightful — they’re both amazing to be around. Everyone clicked, and everyone was determined to get it done — I’m proud of how the films turned out. We purposely went the retro route, and I think it really works. They’re short and gorgeous, but tongue-in-cheek — hints of The Illustrated Man and Rumblefish come to mind.
FAULT: Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
MD: I love all the pieces, but the white rope dress definitely got the most time — it was the first piece started, and the last one finished. There were a lot of changes, but I’m happy with how it turned out. The girls (Allison and Sonia, my other intern) always joke that it’s a unicorn, with all the silver yarns and trinkets coming out of the ‘‘tails’’. I’m cool with that comparison. I guess humor plays a big part in the labor-intensive work, it makes the process a bit more bearable.
FAULT: What do your designs reflect about yourself?
MD: For me, design is about communicating how we feel about the world around us. I love when there’s a sense of intellect and humor present, but a feeling of disquiet or doom works too. If it’s honest, then I’m content with whatever a piece may convey. I can’t separate my designs from how I feel, but then again, I have been pretty optimistic lately – so I guess that is a good thing.
FAULT: Where is your line created, and how involved are you in the production?
MD: I am based in Los Angeles, and I work out of a studio in my home. The clothes are made here as well, and I am involved in every part of production — I work directly with the leather factory and the knitters. Because of the detail and time involved, some items have to be made in the studio, which is fine — I enjoy any personal attention I can give the clothes.
FAULT: What designers/artist inspire you?
MD: I love fashion, but I try to avoid looking at other designers — there are so many talented people out there right now, it’s easy to get caught up in the current zeitgeist. I keep looking at people who are real individuals, like David Bowie or Tilda Swinton – people who are always evolving, but have a signature attitude, intrigue me.Music-wise, I was in second grade when Nevermind by Nirvana came out — definitely the formative album of my life, I could sing you every line from it. I’m really into grunge..and Biggie Smalls. I just fucking love him, haha. Film-wise, Akira Kurosawa, David Fincher and Steve McQueen are heroes in my mind — their work never gets old to me. I could watch Fight Club or Throne of Blood all day. And I just saw a screening of Shame — incredible.
FAULT: If you could create a garment for anyone who would it be and why?
MD: That’s a hard one! I love Mila Kunis, simply because she’s the voice of Meg on Family Guy. I would also jump at the chance to dress someone like Fiona Apple — I listened to Tidal until my cd wouldn’t play anymore, I loved it that much.
FAULT: What is the fashion scene like in Los Angeles?
MD: It’s changing, for the better. Los Angeles is losing the cheesy reputation. The plastic and sleaze are still around, but their presence make the beautiful things here that much more real, if that makes any sense. I feel privileged to be here at this period of time — Los Angeles can be incredibly inspiring, if you let it be.
FAULT: What are your future plans for your line?
MD: I’m already working on AW12, since we’re doing the next film in mid-January – I’m stoked for that, the concept is amazing. I’m open for whatever 2012 will bring — so many good things are happening right now.
FAULT: What is your FAULT?
Laughing too much, watching Metalocalypse on repeat, and sneaking drinks into Disneyland – I go to Disneyland way too much.
Kevin Rogers: Photographer/Set Design
Photo Assistant: Samantha Wehlauch
Model Yasmine Staub: Next Management
Brian Rogers: Stylist
Studio Assistants: Sonia Chen and Allison Weston
Location: Barcode Studios, Culver City
Amber Griffin: Hair and Makeup
Interview Leah Blewitt