Designing My First Collection for Atelier MODA
The night before the Atelier MODA Show, I sat on my couch with two black leather shoulder plates on my lap and a sandwich bag of 200 safety pins in my mouth. I anxiously tried to stick more and more silver pins into the plates, hoping that the additions would make the look that much more striking. I suppose I conditioned myself at that point to believe that I could never have enough, and that more than anything, sticking safety pins into black leather was almost a form of meditation to calm my nerves. By that point, my backpack and suitcase were packed, excluding the plates which had to be carried in a separate bag due to their size and sharpness; the next day would turn out to be a wild and memorable night to say the least.
Designing my first collection for Atelier MODA was a truly enthralling and rewarding adventure. From start to finish, it really did feel like one big blur, during which a collection was fully realized, but I’ll see how much I can relay to you through this reflection.
I went into the whole process basically as a complete amateur. I definitely remember feeling that my lack of experience in garment construction would hamper the final result.
My illustrations seemed more advanced than what was feasible for a three-dimensional model, so I was certainly insecure in the translation process from sketch to garment. Thankfully, I had such a supportive group of designers, models and friends who constantly made me feel that my decisions were justified.
When you design, it feels like you’re translating your own perspective of life, your own experiences, your own desires and fears into design, and to have so much support for my designs without judgement gave me an immense sense of inspiration and freedom.
All of the designers had such unique takes on what fashion means and the messages we wanted to share with our audience, but I was pleased to see so much cross-pollination occurred when it came to my own collection. I tell everybody that so many of my designs have bits and pieces of other designers’ works and that connection between designers is something I find really uplifting; it’s as if we all had a common link that ran through all our collections, perhaps a common love for creativity, for fashion, or for collaboration, all things I valued throughout this process.
It’s hard to believe that upwards of 200 hours of work could all be distilled into one magical night, enough to the point where all those laborious hours feel somehow worth it. I remember that on the day of the show, I told my models that the finishing touches rested in their hands. I made the clothes and now they had to bring their personalities to the pieces to bring them to life.
And they did not disappoint.
Despite the difficulties that come with strapless tops, frayed edges and a harness covered in safety pins, my models transformed my collection into something that I could have only dreamed of. It was like watching my sketches strut off the page and down a runway. The crowd was so welcoming and the comments after the show brought me to tears; I had just realized a dream that I’ve had since I first discovered the world of fashion.
More than anything, this entire process has filled me with a deep appreciation for all the wonderful people that collaborated with me through my journey. To my wonderful co-designers and design mentors, particularly those who worked in DBC with me: you filled me with so much inspiration, so much love and support and so much laughter and joy. Seeing the way you all crafted your own collections influenced my construction so much, so I’d like to say my collection was in many ways yours as well.
To the wonderful MODA Board who put together rehearsals, the venue, lighting, hair and makeup, who supported the entire assembly of the show, I am grateful for the time and effort you put into managing so many people: the show turned out beautifully.
And finally, to my lovely models, who remained resilient despite all the unexpected turns in their outfits, who wore whatever I put them in with no complaints and who continue to inspire me as muses to this day. I could not have asked for a better team, and I am forever grateful that MODA supports this spirit of collaboration. This process likely took up more than 200 hours of my life, but I don’t regret a single second.
If you are insecure or shy or curious when it comes to designing for the MODA Show (as I once was), I highly recommend you bite the bullet and give it a go and apply for the Designer Boot Camp. Fashion design and garment construction have taught me so much about the creative process and my own personal aesthetic, and it’s an experience that I will treasure for years to come.
I can’t wait to see what next year’s show will be like!
Photos courtesy of Alexandra Nisenoff and Andrew Chang