Fashion Week Preview: AAU’s Maria Korovilas at New York Fashion Week!
One student discusses her final collection, her fashion icons, and 600 hours of beading!
BY BROOKE SAGER
Some schools give exams. But one school, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, has a select few students premiere their final project during New York Fashion Week. On September 10th, six students will be unveiling their Spring 2011 collections at the AAU runway show. Maria Korovilas, a talented designer from Baltimore is one of the lucky six. “Showing a collection at [New York] Fashion Week is like inviting the world to glimpse your soul,” she says.
Fashion Week is quickly approaching. What’s going through her head? “There’s no time for thoughts, just work, work, work!” Maria says.
Betty Confidential: What made you want to get your M.F.A. in Fashion Design?
Korovilas: I was always obsessed with fashion. As a child, I would trace outlines of dresses on fabric for my dolls and hop on my mom’s sewing machine to sew them up. I would get so excited about back-to-school shopping, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. It seemed like a natural evolution when I made the choice to study it. Someone had to design clothes, so why couldn’t that person be me?
BC: Do you remember your first encounter with fashion?
Korovilas: When I was about 8-years-old, my mom came home with a fat September issue of Vogue that an employee had left her with. That became my Bible of sorts. This was way before I realized that fashion magazines were a monthly ritual. I just read it over and over and over, and pulled images and plastered them on my walls. I guess I was always in to mood boards—haha. As I got older, of course I became a “mag-a-holic,” but I still remember the thrill of looking through that first issue. Vogue will always hold a special place in my heart.
BC: How is designing for Fashion Week different than designing something just for c lass?
Korovilas: Well, many class projects were just that, projects. The guidelines were given to us to learn a tailoring or specific technique. When I began to design for this collection, it was like finally being set free. The collection was all me, all my ideas from my own vision of what I wanted—no dictation, no boundaries. I had all of the tools I learned at AAU to make those visions a reality. Fashion Week is both a dream come true and absolutely terrifying because I am designing for the New York stage.
BC: Who are your fashion icons and favorite designers?
Korovilas: I still find myself obsessing over Phoebe Philo in the Chloe days—those were some of my favorite clothing times. Marc Jacobs‘ sophisticated girlishness is my go-to. And I love how Isabel Marant counteracts girlishness with her military/masculine femininity. As far as fashion icons, I have many gals for many moods. But Anna Karina always stands out to me as the epitome of the thinking man’s sex symbol, and that’s who I like to think I’m designing for. She was just this beautiful, intelligent, curious, mischievous, adventurous, inherently sexy, all-girl, multi-talented creature. And to me, style always comes from internal assets.
BC: What inspires you?
Korovilas: As a designer, you start to realize that your sense of inspiration comes from many markers in your life. You are constantly pulling from those markers, but in a multitude of different combinations. I tend to pull from music, books, film, a striking visual that I chance upon, and feelings from “moments.” This current collection drew a lot on The Beatles, Tim Walker photographs, Anne of Green Gables, Devendra Banhart and the modern folk movement, the feeling of walking on marble, 1920s France, Mediterranean seas and 70s lo-fi medium format sunshine. It was just the merging of moods that are constantly in me, and Jenny Lewis’ You Are What You Love, helped me to organize all of that chaos into one cohesive statement.
Korovilas: Before I start a new design project, I always make a list of pieces that I am craving in my wardrobe. Once I work out solid inspiration and details, I go back to the list and do several variations of what I’ve written down. I find that that helps keep each look strong and meaningful. As long as I have that list to guide me, I can usually work out whatever issue I run into. I think I work best when I’m alone and have my music to keep me company. I can just go and go and go…
BC: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created?
Korovilas: I’m loving the metal encrusted romper that I made for this collection. The University offers courses in Tambour Beading; that is where I learned the technique for my metal encrusted pieces. When I finished the romper, I said to myself, “whoa!” It’s really striking. It was also the one piece I created with Jenny Lewis specifically in mind. When she was on tour a few years ago with Rilo Kiley, she pranced around in rompers and hot pants. I drew a lot on that for my couple of short pieces that I worked into the collection. It was sort of my homage to her.
BC: What would you say are your biggest strengths? Your fears?
Korovilas: My biggest strength is that I know clothes. I live them, I breathe them, I love them. When I design, I’m designing my fantasy, and I know no one can get in my own head better than I can. I guess my biggest fear is a design job where I’m not designing for “me.” I would not want to turn high fashion ideas into marketable mainstream clothing. I really don’t think that way. But I also feel that the industry is moving away from the mainstream.
BC: Who would you love to see wearing your clothes one day?
Korovilas: Aside from Miss Lewis, my muses included Vanessa Paradis, Michelle Williams and Zooey Deschanel. They embody that, “I’m going to go run my errands in a beaded 1920’s dress thrown over jeans with my boyfriend’s blazer” type of mentality. That’s really the type of woman this collection was made for.