Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Kavya Prakhyati

Kavya Prakhyati is a 27-year-old Boston-based designer focused on creating sustainable fashion rooted in femininity and romance. She draws inspiration from couture techniques, renaissance paintings, 90s movies, and her Indian heritage.

Kavya graduated with a certificate from the school of fashion design in 2019 and apprenticed for Daniel Faucher Couture, learning the craft of tailored, custom-made garments. Some of her garments have appeared on independent magazine covers, and a collection of her garments were featured in Boston Fashion Week.

Her handmade-to-order garment addresses and empowers different body types and design needs through the use of traditional sewing techniques. She believes that her customers should buy her pieces because they truly speak to them. It just so happens that she encourages sustainable production and empowers everyone along the way.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Kavya to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I started off studying marketing and worked as a market analyst. I wanted to pursue a career in fashion, and I was always drawn to it ever since school. For many reasons, I chose to play safe with my career choice until I realised it wasn’t for me and decided to do what I always wanted. I went back to school to study Fashion Design, which really helped me develop my technical skills. I have been doing this for five years now (I did internships with very talented and established designers in Boston and got my first job as a technical designer in New York) and have never looked back.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Seeing the ideas come to life! I spend a lot of time drafting patterns/draping, manipulating fabric, sewing the garment using intricate details, and then finally seeing it on my clients or models is a total dream come true, especially when they notice the little details and tell you how they feel in the dress.

Meeting other creatives in the industry is another thing I love. I’m always meeting new people (online & in-person), and listening to different perspectives and ideas is always refreshing!

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Someone commented on my TikTok saying, “how does it feel to live my dream?” and I wanted to respond by listing several reasons why the fashion industry is difficult. Still, the truth is that although many downsides exist, they can all be overcome with workable solutions. That being said, the fashion industry is very demanding, both financially and time-wise. Another downside is that the fashion industry is so saturated that it’s hard to stand out, so you have to work really hard to differentiate yourself and be seen. Made-to-order designers, in particular, have trouble finding success in this ‘fast-paced, inexpensive clothing’ environment because their goods don’t have a quick turnaround time and are expensive. Thankfully, the situation is one of the most talked-about topics at the moment, so it’s easier to educate consumers about the trade-off and true cost.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

I would have to say that one of my most (recent) memorable experiences was having Dodie (a British singer-songwriter) perform in one of my garments. A true pinch-me moment! Her initiative to support independent designers is very thoughtful. Kudos to her and her team!

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’ve had an incredible opportunity to meet so many models, photographers, teachers, and other designers in the industry! (All the pictures you see are works of these incredible artists, you will find them tagged in my Instagram account.) They truly changed my perspective on competition. For me, now, it is all about supporting each other and uplifting each other as a community because I truly understand what it takes. I’m so glad I got a chance to meet some of these creatives; they are all very interesting with unique personalities and backgrounds.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

#1. Quality>>>Quantity and #2. I don’t have to be a genius protege with an exuberant personality to convince people to like what I make. Just take some challenges, don’t downplay accomplishments, get hands-on experience, and invest in skill and practice. Who would have thought? Not me!

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I am very grateful that my family and friends are always there for me and encourage me to follow my dreams. They’ve been very supportive of my new venture.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Cliche, but I can’t say I’d do anything differently because I would definitely have valued the opportunity to learn from my mistakes more. If I could go back, I’d take some financial, sewing, and confidence tips and a few self-help books with me.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Do your best, and watch your best get better.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I am excited about my future plans! Right now, my plan is to continue working with my current company for the foreseeable future. I’m working on launching my brand ‘Aeris’ late this year or early next year, where I take custom orders and also launch mini collections twice a year which are also customisable and made-to-order. Follow me on my Instagram @kavyaprakhyati to order, see my pieces in action, or just follow along my journey. I am also very keen on learning 3D software (like clo3d and browzwear). I’m curious, could this be the answer to all my sustainable custom fashion business problems?

Photo credits: Lena Nugent, Sasha Iman, Anna Istomina, and Siobhan Beasley.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Téa Nassi

Téa Nassi is a Parisian-based designer from Albania. She started her career in finance before quitting her day job to pursue her dream in Paris. She studied fashion design in a Parisian school and launched her brand under her own name.

She finds inspiration for her concepts in human psychology, optical illusions, and modern art. She enjoys blending classic cu4cts with a twist of fantasy, stylistically, for refined, cultivated women but with a streak of extraverted fun.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Téa to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I grew up in post-communist Albania when there were no fashion schools, and choosing a career was motivated first by financial security. I followed a scientific baccalaureate, studied finance, and nailed a 9 to 5 job in accountancy. Nevertheless, I’d spend hours sketching outfits in our building’s staircase from a very early age, and it never left me. So, at the age of 25, I took a huge leap of faith, quit my job, left my country, and moved to France to study fashion design. I first became an au-pair, had to follow a 6-month crash course in French, put money aside, and nine months later, I was ready to apply to a fashion school in Paris.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Where do I start? It’s a wonderful, applied art form that sublimates an everyday necessity into a means of self-expression. I love the transformation process of the industry, from a shapeless piece of fabric to an accomplished work of art.

On a personal level, I love the challenge it requires to reinvent myself in each new collection. Putting in the hours, doubting, researching, starting all over again from scratch, until finally the outfits are finished, and I can feel the pride of seeing them worn.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Putting in the hours, doubting, researching, starting all over again from scratch! Jokes aside, we currently have the massive responsibility of reinventing one of the world’s most polluting and irresponsible industries. We must slow down, produce less and more intelligently, against everything that has been done for decades. It represents huge stress for all involved, including emerging brands such as mine. While the big brands have the teams and means to imagine new processes, new designers have to carry the burden of finding solutions alone, and at times we feel like small fish in a huge pond.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My very first catwalk! The feeling of accomplishment overwhelmed me after such a long journey. I knew instantly I was in the right place and had made the right choices; it motivated me, like nothing else, to pursue the path I had chosen.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I like to surround myself with many interesting people from all walks of life. But the most interesting person I’ve met is my own father! He’s a secretive but fascinating person who never complains but always finds solutions to every possible problem he encounters. He is a true inspiration for me, and even though he is not part of the industry, I strive to apply his soft skills to my own work every day.

On a professional level, I wouldn’t want to differentiate one person from another; I sincerely thank all my professors and collaborators who have taught me invaluable lessons.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry? This can be about the industry or about yourself.

I had a valuable but frustrating experience learning the following lesson. I preferred to follow other people’s advice on several occasions instead of listening to my own creative instinct. I would put enormous amounts of work into something I didn’t personally believe in. Unsurprisingly, I would have to undo everything to start all over again and follow my initial hunch! Hence the lesson would be: take in the advice but don’t let it stray away from your instinct. And don’t be reluctant to put in the hours; inspiration comes working.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

My parents were born and grew up in Communist Albania. So naturally, their outlook on life is not risk-driven. When I told them at age 25 that I was willing to quit my safe situation in Tirana and leave to Paris to study fashion without even knowing the language, they were naturally worried about my life choices. Yet today, on the contrary, they are so supportive!

My grandmother was a dressmaker; my mother is also talented with a needle and a thread. She’s the one I call every time I need technical advice; she’s even pulled off quite a few sleepless nights to help me!

As for my partner, we work side by side every day, and he helps me with everything. He specializes in graphic/motion design and has helped me with my branding and photo edits… but we also love to discuss artistic viewpoints and regularly brainstorm on my brand. It’s a loving, virtuous circle!

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I strongly believe in the four spiritual laws of Hinduism. The second law states, “What happens is the only thing that could have happened.” And it must have been like that for us to learn that lesson and move on.

But all the while knowing it, I regret not having listened to my inner voice earlier. Instead of studying fashion straight after school, I studied finance for security. So as that spiritual law has it, finance was so unlike me that I believe it was probably exactly what I needed to find the courage to give up everything I had and study fashion design.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My first drawing teacher, Sylvie Fontaine, once told me that if I wanted to succeed as a designer, then all my energy must be focused on that one goal. Hence that meant for me to see the whole world through the eyes of a fashion designer. Movies, art, experiences, books, everything surrounding me should become wells of inspiration. I thank her as it has become my lifestyle ever since, and it really does produce tangible results.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My immediate plan is to finish and publish my next collection, but my future plan is to expand my brand and achieve my first stand-alone runway.

In the distant future, I’d like to open a fashion school in Albania and provide young Albanians with the French savoir-faire I acquired. It’s a small country with huge potential, but it suffers from a fleeing young population who relocate in the hope of finding more opportunities elsewhere (been there, done that). It would be my contribution to my beautiful country of birth and heart.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Lia Cowan

Lia Cowan is an artist and designer whose mixed Jewish and Irish heritage has opened a portal where inspiration threads are spun from folklore and mysticism. Her approach to design is like that of an artist. Diverse themes are researched, explored, and responded to. Her sculptural background informs and adds another layer to the work, through silhouette, movement, and performance. Each of her pieces embodies its own story and has at its heart its own personal textile tale – handcrafted, hand-embellished, hand-embroidered, and hand-held. Going through a transformative journey of casting, gathering, draping, stretching.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Lia to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

My background is actually in Sculpture and Education, having completed a BA in The National College of Art and Design in Dublin. I taught Art as a secondary school subject for a few years, and I loved it and loved all my students, but I found something was missing. I missed the buzz of designing and making.

I have always had a passion for clothes and was quite experimental with shapes and silhouettes (some good, some ATROCIOUS), so I wanted the ability to make my own clothes. It started off as a hobby, but quickly I became obsessed. It was like something had sparked inside of me, and finally, I realised this was what I needed to do. From then on, I have done everything in my power to educate myself through courses, collaborations, and internships, and it has brought me to a place where I feel I have found my own unique voice as a designer.

What do you like most about being a designer?

There is no better feeling than seeing someone wear your pieces or for them to tell you how fantastic and confident they felt in them. It truly fills my heart with joy.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

Financially, it is definitely very stressful. I am at the beginning stages of my career, so I understand this is part of the package, and I am more than happy to do so if it means I get to do something I love as a career!

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My first magazine feature was pretty incredible. Only a year prior to this was I credited as an intern for another Irish designer I had worked with. To see your work photographed, and your name in bold as the designer – it’s pretty magical.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I have worked with some fantastic stylists and photographers, each using my pieces in completely different ways which I love! In particular, Adam Walsh and Anne O’Shea (both stylists in Dublin) have been massive supports of me and my work.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Don’t undersell yourself or your work. I think a lot of young designers come into the fashion industry assuming they are at the bottom of the food chain and so must act accordingly. It’s so important to put yourself out there, tell people about your work and who you are, be bold and be confident – the feedback may surprise you.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Coming from an Irish-Jewish family, it’s hard not to be showered with love and support every day. My parents are my biggest fans; my Mom is literally my Momager. I owe them both so much; they have been with me through everything – the meltdowns, the imposter syndrome, and they have celebrated with me through all the successes.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I probably would say not to be so hard on myself in the beginning stages. I was obsessed with being the best or doing everything perfectly from the get-go. Everything is a learning experience, and I learned so much more through those mistakes than I ever would have if everything went “perfectly.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t sell yourself short.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I am hoping to move from Dublin to Holland with my Boyfriend Max over the coming months. We are both designers and have always wanted to move to Holland for its incredible design culture. Ideally, I would open a studio there and continue expanding my brand.

I will continue designing and making custom pieces while releasing two small capsule collections a year.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Erika Janavi

Erika Janavi initially came by bus from Lithuania to London to study Fashion and Textiles in 2011. She had a wild ride discovering herself and challenging her career in various fields, however, not Fashion. During the first lockdown, she realized how fascinated she is with textiles and how much creativity she can give to designing, which is why she’s now pursuing this as a full-time career. More than that, she managed to adapt her unusual lifestyle to her designing profession. The majority of her possessions are antique or vintage because she’s passionate about sustainable living and timeless everlasting designs. Therefore she makes her pieces from unique antique /vintage fabrics and materials.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Erika to discuss her journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I left my home country of Lithuania as soon as I graduated from school and started my BA studies in Fashion and textiles in West London. It was a spontaneous decision since I had previously prepared to study interior design.

What do you like most about being a designer?

The creative process of firstly imagining a design, then creating it, and finally seeing it materialise and worn.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

It is one of the toughest industries, especially if you are trying to make it on your own. People always tend to buy fast Fashion because of its cost rather than researching independent designers who offer unique, sustainable, and lasting quality items.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

I believe my big personal moments are yet to come in the near future.

Several years ago, whilst I was in my final year at university, somehow, I still managed to do a full-time internship and work in a cafe on weekends. I was an assistant for a very successful couture designer whose clients at the time were celebrities like Florence and Machines, Paloma Faith, Nicole Scherzinger, Mischa Barton.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Multitasking artists with a side hustle are always the most interesting people!

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help; you definitely can’t do it all by yourself.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I think they are doing their best even though they don’t fully understand it sometimes.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have kept up the creativity even if times were hard and I was literally a starving artist (after university, I had a four-year break working full time and abandoning Fashion because I didn’t get a job in the industry right away). I’d also start building a social media presence earlier.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Back in university, I was very unconfident and unsure if my design ideas were good; my headteacher once told me: ‘Do you want your designs to be in a museum one day? Then you should know what to do.’ Whenever I wasn’t sure if I should hold back and choose simpler design ideas or go bigger, I always remember his advice.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

This spring, I will finally start selling my designs with stockists; I am also focusing on opening a pop-up shop with multiple avant-garde independent designers.

Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Lindsay Nicholas

While having a long career in advertising and marketing, Lindsay Nicholas traveled extensively and craved luxurious clothing that would take her between coasts and hemispheres, and travel well… all the while offering effortlessly cool style. She knew she wasn’t alone in needing some amazing modern basics that live outside of the seasons to suit my global lifestyle. This spirit, combined with an obsession for fashion, inspired her to begin Lindsay Nicholas New York in 2015.

Lindsay’s designs truly defy age and represent an attitude and confidence that can be seen in women of all ages. Her pieces are intelligent and elegant, like her clientele.

Lindsay holds certificate degrees from Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She truly understands luxury, having been the Executive Director of Retail Marketing for The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, one of the top luxury malls in the world, and Head of Global Marketing for Paspaley Pearls in Australia. She’s also a former board member of the Association of Image Consultants International.

Sassy & Co magazine recently caught up with Lindsay to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I have drawn women in clothing since I was a young child, but after living through 9/11 in NYC, I realised it was time to re-evaluate where my life was headed. I had a successful career in advertising on Madison Avenue but knew that being a fashion designer was my true calling. I studied at Parsons School of Design and then the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in the evenings and received certificate degrees over the course of several years. I then walked into my boss’s office and told him I was quitting to become a fashion designer, and he basically told me to go back to my desk – essentially, I did for another decade. As I rounded 50, I knew it was time to make a move. Initially, I did it as a side hustle, getting up at 4 am to work with my (what was then) NYC-based team while I was living in Singapore. In 2017 I had the courage to make it my full-time gig. In 2019 I moved the business to Australia.

What do you like most about being a designer?

I truly love the pieces I design, and like many designers, I design for myself. I had access to the best brands in my prior career and wore many European fashion houses. My wardrobe consists of mainly my pieces (and a little Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Celine), and I love wearing Lindsay Nicholas New York. My clothes are flattering, comfortable (without looking too comfortable), and infused with boldness and discreet sexiness. I have the best wardrobe I have ever had, and I get excited for what’s next, though I always pair new with one of my existing pieces. I believe a wardrobe should last season after season. I think through every detail, from the French seams to how a piece enhances a woman’s body. I am fully into every aspect.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

A friend of mine once described it as the Olympics of small details, and it is that! I am very lucky that I came in with the marketing chops right out of the gates, but there was still much more to learn, especially in the beginning. I made sure my small team was full of subject area experts. There are just so many aspects to consider, from sourcing fabrics to finding the right factory, the most appropriate channels to sell on, right down to the best accounting software and thread colours. As a designer and business owner, you really have to juggle a lot of plates at once.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

While I have had some “pinch me” moments showing at New York Fashion Week and being accepted into the Australian Fashion Council’s Curated program, opening my new boutique in Melbourne has been a dream come true. I love retail, and I love being with my clients. The feedback I get is invaluable, and seeing a woman walk out of the fitting room glowing because she is feeling so amazing in one of my creations makes me joyful. And when she asks if she can wear it out of the store because she doesn’t want to take it off…well, that’s just the best.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Well, indeed, my clients are all so interesting. They have lived such amazing lives, and all got to where they are by not following the safe path. They take risks and put themselves out there. Just a fantastic group of ladies, though that said, recently, we’ve also been selling to men who are exploring their feminine wardrobe. It’s great for me to see how my pieces translate, and it’s very exciting for me. In terms of people I have met outside of my clients who have blown me away, I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with Michael Kors and Diane Von Furstenberg in my prior career, and I think they are the most talented and supremely lovely people I have met. So down to earth and warm.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

You need to listen (and as I always like to say, “listen with your ears and not your mouth”), but you also can’t listen to all of the advice you get. Listen, take it in, but you need to apply your own filter at the end of the day. You’ll wind up with a very vanilla product if you try to please everyone. I listen and think, “that resonates with me… that’s good advice,” or “that’s interesting, but not something I am going to take on board.” We could probably make more money if we took some shortcuts, but I’d rather have fewer clients, but clients who appreciate the detail and quality we provide. We’re not for everybody, but we are for that special someone.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Absolutely! My sister works for me, so let’s start there. And now, her daughter is even helping out in the business. My mother, who died quite suddenly this year, was my biggest fan. She loved my pieces, and she was that bold, intelligent, and creative woman I designed for. She wore my pieces into her 80’s and looked chic as chic. Just in my family, I dress 17 to 83 year-olds. And my husband is truly my rock. He is integral to the business and knows everyone throughout my supply chain. When I was designing our leopard print pieces (which are our best sellers), I did a huge study on good leopard vs. bad leopard (because certainly there are both…and I do think ours is the best), and my husband was so involved that now he critiques every piece of leopard he sees on the street on in a store window. He’s an absolute doll.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would have approached an industry mentor sooner. I learned a lot by trial and error, and there are amazing people out there who are so generous with their time and expertise. Just because I don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean that there isn’t someone who does! I wound up getting paired with Christine Metcalfe, who co-founded The Ark Clothing Company through the Australian Fashion Council, and she has been a great mentor to me. There are also great resources like Fashion Equipped, which could have saved me some headaches and money if I knew they existed initially.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

While not necessarily advice, the quote I had in my High School yearbook still rings true for me today: Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another. – Marquis de Condorcet

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I love to work and create, so I am looking forward to the journey in our new boutique, the new pieces we’ll create, and the new relationships we’ll make. And while we haven’t been able to travel for a couple of years, really looking forward to spending a couple of months a year in New York City and with my family in Boston. It’s good for me creatively and spiritually.

Emerging Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Angelo Raffaele Masciello

Angelo Raffaele Masciello is a 24-year-old fashion designer who was born on the 2nd of September 1997 in Foggia-Italy. Over the past few years, the relationship with two very important women, who both shared a passion for embroidery and knitwear, marked his future choices, wishing to become a stylist. Thanks to that, he started drawing clothes when he was 16, and he has never stopped since then. He enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Foggia, earning a three-year degree in “Fashion and Costume,” understanding how much this path did not represent just a simple job to him. It gave him the chance to identify himself in a real lifestyle, acquiring a deeper knowledge of colours, tailoring techniques, and types of fabrics by manipulating them to create new shapes. He moved to Rome to start a new path and chase his dream, with new challenges, in the “Haute Couture Master” at the Accademia Costume & Moda, in 2019. Deadlines set for each project and the countless exams have helped him constantly plan and reach every goal with the utmost seriousness, humility, and desire to improve himself.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Angelo to discuss his journey in the fashion industry, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

Everything started one summer, in 2016, when I started drawing dozens of illustrations per day. I remember that many of my friends went out while I stayed at home to draw traveling on my mind.
They were my first sketches. I immediately understood what my passion was.

So I decided to enroll at the Academy of Fine Arts in Foggia, my hometown, starting to discover the beauties about fashion arts, to discover the love for fabrics, and my own desire to always create something new. In those years, I got very close to tailoring maker; I loved sewing all garments for the graduation by myself, experimenting with new shapes on the mannequin, and choosing innovative and functional fabrics.

In 2019, after my bachelor’s degree, I moved to Rome to complete my studies. I enrolled in the Master Alta Moda at the Accademia Costume & Moda.

It was a very important career path; I grew up as a person and as a designer, learning to work in a team and complete all the goals. I’ve improved the development of creative research for the collections by making them extremely personal. It has been a strong path, which despite the Covid blockade, has contributed to my professional growth.

What do you like most about being a designer?

Being able to convey a message, being able to say what I think without words, but using art, colors, shapes, fabrics that convey lightness or melancholy as well.

I think it’s very important to feel free because one’s freedom makes others free too.

Nowadays, the designer has a fundamental role within society, young people identify with a brand or in a fashion icon, and this is what I love: having a continuous exchange of needs with the people you meet.

I want to feel part of this society because I know they can give a lot to me and, at the same time, I can leave a message for them too.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

You need to have a strong personality and have clear ideas about what you want to convey; otherwise, there’s the risk of no longer being fundamental for society. It’s important always to have new ideas, be open-minded as much as possible to new needs, and always question oneself. Otherwise, it could become difficult.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

The catwalk, of course. A designer works to his creations day and night, but what always pushes me to give my best is to see my clothes worn when they come to life.

On the catwalk, everything comes alive, from the fabrics to the colors that light up; at that moment, I relive the whole journey in a few seconds. The adrenaline of the last moment combined with the feelings of models and the tears of thanks knowing that I’ve left something of mine to those who have looked at my collection. I remember perfectly after the MittelModa Fashion contest, in September, and the last Fashion Graduate Italia the smiles and hugs with the whole team, the congratulations from Rosemary Ferrari backstage. They are unforgettable moments.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I take this opportunity to thank all the people who work in the Academy because they have helped me in this fundamental path of my life. All professionals who have dedicated their time to pass on their experiences and their passion to all of us.

It was very important to exchange and grow with people who love this job because they have enriched me a lot, have been a push to believe in what I was doing, and always pushed me further. A fundamental person was Santo Costanto, to whom I say thank you. He was always present for everyone; working with him during the master and having him as a teacher was also important on a human level.

In this job, you have to surround yourself with positive and proactive people; only in this way could I overcome my limits.
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What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The humility of always wanting to learn, constantly questioning myself, and never being satisfied. These characteristics have always helped me move forward while respecting the work of others as much as possible.

The awareness of learning has led me always to have new goals every day.

I always try to be positive by finding an issue solution because the company has deadlines, and there’s no time to put yourself first.

In my opinion, the most wrong thing a designer can commit is to think that he has already reached the finish line.

Resuming your third question: in my opinion, that’s a big downside.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

Absolutely yes!

They were the first to believe in me; they listened to and welcomed my passion and dreams.

If I got here today, it’s above all thanks to them.

It was a journey that we shared together and that they will surely continue to share with me. I think they also received all my feelings and perceived the need to express myself with my work.

Today the fashion world belongs to them too.

I will always be grateful to them.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Honestly not, I wouldn’t change anything about my path.

I made choices that made me grow as a person, designer, and with relationships with others.

You never know if that choice is right or wrong, but I’ve been able to improve some things from mistakes, and I have moved on.

I live the choices as a positive opportunity; I always try to avoid the negative sides because maybe what doesn’t arrive today will arrive tomorrow. You have to persevere and believe in what you do, be determined.

Every choice I made was determined by a historical moment, and I’m so glad about all the choices I have made to date.

Now I’m thinking about the next one.

FASHION GRADUATE ITALIA 2021
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli )

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The secret lies in constant work… Work a lot!

You have to work hard, make many sacrifices, be willing not to sleep for whole nights to understand where to improve yourself.

In recent years I have made many sacrifices; there have been very demanding weeks, then the work always pays off.

My advice for those growing this passion is to be determined and believe in themselves. The right attitude is to be curious, never get tired of knowing, never be superficial, and be dynamic.

To love this job is the most important thing, dedicating as long as possible to achieve excellent results.

To those starting, I say to always believe in it and never forget why you have chosen this job. It will be your strength.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

My first goal is to start working for a fashion brand, to be able to give my knowledge to make something beautiful together.

Being complicit in a creation, sharing feelings with the brand, and making my little experiences available while growing with the company and the team.

In a few years, I hope to have the opportunity to open my own fashion line, womenswear, and men RTW, to be able to get involved again.

A secret dream is to enter a haute cuisine school: I’m cultivating this interest because it’s a source full of inspiration, relaxation, and well-being for myself.

FASHION GRADUATE ITALIA 2021
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli )
FASHION GRADUATE ITALIA 2021
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli )
FASHION GRADUATE ITALIA 2021
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli )
FASHION GRADUATE ITALIA 2021
(Photo by Daniele Venturelli )

Emerging Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented XZOUIX

XZOUIX was born behind the Iron Curtain in 1986, in a country of Czechoslovakia deformed by normalization and visually molded by functionalism. From an early age, she observed her surroundings from a safe distance, curiously watching the world with wonder until she decided to shape it. Her love for nature and design has led her to become a fashion designer specializing in zero-waste design. XZOUIX is not only a person; it’s also a product resulting from the work of XZOUIX. It’s a garment or an object in which a zero-waste design principle merges with a juxtaposition of asymmetry and symmetry, deconstruction, and minimalism. It’s a human, and it’s a thing, and it’s a mood. 

It’s a long coat or a dress that flows around your body in a certain way and a mood that comes with it. It is just as particular as elegance of darkness, aesthetics of brutalism and transparence of functionalism. Watch it move. Let the garment whisper and flow. And follow along.

XZOUIX resides in private collections and wardrobes across the world. It has been shown in a number of national and international events, fashion shows, competitions, and exhibitions like Designblok in Prague, Czech Republic; Aspen AIDS benefit fashion show in Telluride, Colorado and at the international Arts of Fashion Symposium in San Francisco, California.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with XZOUIX to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry? 

I studied fashion design at the School of Applied Arts in Ruzomberok. They taught me everything about the garment-making process, from r&d through garment construction to perfectly tailored custom garments. Later on, I continued my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, where I got my Master of Arts degree. 

What do you like most about being a designer? 

The creative freedom.

Downside to being a fashion designer? 

My brain is always in work mode. XZOUIX is a one-woman operation, which means I do everything from design and product development to sewing and post-production, including photography, website, and even marketing by myself, so going to sleep or taking a weekend off is often unthinkable. I am still learning to master the work/life balance and take a pause when I need it because I like what I do, and I always get inspired. My teachers used to say that my mind is a river. 

The inspiration just never stops coming.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

Having the opportunity to travel around the world to show my fashion collections and seeing happy customers wearing my designs with confidence, beautifully matched with a smile on their faces.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

People who love their work; the ones that are willing to pass the knowledge and share their creative drive. I love and admire that kind of energy because it makes sense and inspires me always to be moving forward.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

No deadline is too tight. I learned always to take chances and never pass the opportunity to learn something new.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

I can’t say they are supportive, but they are definitely patient. 

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Nothing, really. However, I would tell myself to follow my instinct and learn to recognize which idea is worth investing in and when to quit and move on to a fresh start. With the constant flow of inspiration that I have, no sheet of paper stays blank for too long anyway.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Learn to say “no.”

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I am slowly transitioning from avant-garde fashion to designing functional clothing for motorcyclists. The paths we take in our careers rarely go smooth and straight as planned, but with open eyes and an “always inspired” attitude, even an unexpected detour on the road to the imaginary top can become an adventure with the potential to change our perspective forever. And in my case, keeping my eyes and mind open led to changing my career’s destination from shiny fashion runways to well-weathered back roads discovered on two wheels. 

I used to tell myself I should keep a distance between my design work and my other passions. Now that I’ve outgrown my teenage ambitions of unbound creativity and came to understand that my personal life and my work are always going to blend into one, I decided that the motorcyclist in me should be given more space to express herself more freely. I allowed myself to start building a second brand that will cater to the community I feel I belong to. And what better way to spend more time among motorcycles and like-minded people than creating protective gear for motorcycle riders? 

I had already found true meaning in recycling fabrics and leather, so with this, I am allowing myself to truly put my effort into something bigger than the need to create. Caring about the motorcyclist’s safety and at the same time giving a second (or third) life to leather means so much more!

 A “good design” is well thought out and leaves no negative environmental trace when it’s done. That is why XZOUIX aims to follow a “zero waste” design path. And yes, I know that leather = murder. Just let me explain why leather at XZOUIX matters and, in fact, the purpose driving XZOUIX forward. Leather at XZOUIX is strictly salvaged leather. It is either manually recycled leather or leftover leather, donated to me as a gesture of support from people who know my work. Animals shouldn’t be “raised” only to serve the purpose of becoming pieces of mass-produced clothing, be it fashion garments or functional clothing such as motorcycle jackets, etc. 

Recycling materials like abandoned leather is an idea that goes beyond a creative need and design love; it is what gives a sense to what I do. Over the years, I worked with different materials and media, but only recycling fabrics, particularly leather, gave me a deeper sense of purpose. We all need a purpose, especially when it comes to work. If I learned something from the world we live in, caring about the world we live in should correspond with creating the world we live in. I believe that whenever I save at least a few animals or a piece of cow by lowering the demand for new material, I help create a better and more lively environment. This is my purpose and a trace I want to leave. 

Emerging Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Mathilde Lhomme

Mathilde Lhomme is a small-town girl with big dreams.

After studying sewing and costume history, she left her suitcases in Paris and started working at the age of 19 for the Moulin Rouge workshop; this led her through the world of haute couture on the catwalks. Passionate about the world of haute couture and cabaret, she mixed these two forces to create an original, solid, and feminine fashion. For her, fashion is a real state of mind, art, and she’s convinced that a garment is so much more which can impact the person who wears it.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Mathilde to discuss her journey in the fashion world, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I always knew I wanted to do this job before I even figured out what it was. I was drawing all the clothes I saw on TV and in magazines. I was doing fashion shows with my barbies /dolls, and I was very invested in my looks at school and carefully chose each of my clothes.

After my degree, I entered this professional field as a « petite main » (hand sewing) to help with the extra work before Fashion week. I was then 20 years old when I first worked on the catwalks of Chanel, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier, and many others.

What do you like most about being a designer?

This work brings together all my passions, drawing, fashion, and sewing. I like it most because it constantly develops my creativity, and even if the job remains the same, it’s an eternal restart, each time you have to reinvent yourself and create a new theme, new shape, new fabrics. I like to develop a new universe each time to learn more and more about this profession, to surpass myself.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

It is a ruthless profession. There is very little room for a lot of talent. I want to develop this elitist side and make fashion more accessible to everyone. We do not all have the same emphasis, and some people work a lifetime without ever having gratitude.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My best memory will forever be my very first fashion show as a designer. In less than two months, I had to draw and sew my own collection for the final of the national competition for young designers in Paris.

I lived in a tiny apartment; there was fabric everywhere! On the floor, in my kitchen, on my bed. I fell asleep while working and then continued when I woke up.

I was surrounded by all the people I loved, and I was doing everything I fought for the first time. It was one of the happiest days of my life. For the first time, I had chosen everything down to the smallest detail, the music, the models, the hairstyles; for a day, I lived in my biggest dream.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I haven’t really spoken to him, but I have been very inspired by the work of Jean Paul Gaultier from a very young age. I had the honor of working on one of his fashion shows. I was able to discover how this humble genius of great kindness spread love and happiness wherever he went. It is the fashion that I want to see and that inspires me. He proves to us that we can be successful by being a nice person.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

Ten thousand hours of work to excel in a discipline takes us from novice status to expert. Since that day, I have never stopped, and I don’t count my hours anymore. And above all, that nothing is impossible with work and passion.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

My family has been my biggest supporter! They have always encouraged me to make my dreams come true.

I told my parents that I wanted to be a stylist when I was 10; I think, since that day, they have done everything to help me. They took me shopping; I helped pick out the clothes for the whole family. My mother would print me fashion articles and stylist stories she found on the internet. They helped me find the studies that suited me and then helped me settle in Paris. And they’re always there to share my successes and help keep me hopeful. They always believed in me; that’s where my determination comes from.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

If I could go back to that time and give myself some advice, I would tell myself to stop thinking too much and just go for it! And above all, believe in yourself.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

The best advice anyone has given me is that no one will do things for me, no one will come and push me, no one will go and do my work. No one will come and give me the job of my dreams. It’s up to you to do everything, create your own opportunities, and get started. It’s up to you to prove that you deserve your place.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I have always dreamed of having my own brand, this is the next step for me. I’m working on it, and I can’t wait to offer my vision of fashion, develop my own identity by mixing fashion and show intended for those who want to be the main character of their lives, celebrating differences and boldness.

Emerging Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Chrystel Anne Clasicas

Chrystel Anne Clasicas is a Filipina designer born and raised in the U.A.E. She began her fashion journey after being inspired by her aunt, Felicidad Tuviera, who used to sew clothes for her and her sister. Ever since then, she has always had an interest in drawing dresses and making sock dresses for her Barbies. Chrystel emerged from the College of Fashion and Design, Dubai. Where she won a full scholarship through a radio competition in 2019. Her Grandmother wore her very first design for her uncle’s wedding.

She started her business after her college closed down during the pandemic by selling silk masks as she was tired of getting ‘maskne’.

She explores ways to visually represent her vision by drawing inspiration from architectural monuments and her cultural roots. Each piece she creates exudes elegance yet stays true to comfort and can be worn on a daily basis.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Chrystel Anne to discuss her journey in the fashion world, and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

It started in 2019 when a friend of mine asked me to create an engagement dress for her. I also joined many competitions while studying, which led me to create one of my most iconic pieces, the ‘Felicidad’ gown. I relied on collaborations and networking to help me get into the industry. Collaborating with Filipino photographer Ace Reyes and makeup artists Mau Piodena and Pearl Delgado for my first clothing collection really started it all for my brand and me. Dubai is a great place to connect with other creative individuals within the fashion industry, which helped open doors for me for other opportunities.

What do you like most about being a designer?

I enjoy the creative aspect of it and seeing the happiness on my clients’ faces! Finding inspiration and researching is difficult, but it’s really where all the magic happens. You see the outcome of the idea in the final design, and that’s the best feeling.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

It’s a career that not many people will take seriously till you make something out of yourself. This can be tough when you are starting your career, so having a good support system is very important.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

I think being invited to join New York Fashion Week has been one of my most memorable experiences. It stood out the most to me because it was one of the most stressful events in my life. My luggage, which had all the clothes for my show, got lost in Germany and was only delivered to me the day before the show! But in the end, it was an overall great experience as I got to meet the best models, makeup artists, and the production team backstage. As an emerging designer, being given the opportunity to showcase in an event like that is a dream come true. It validates my dedication and all the work I have put into making myself a better designer.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’m fairly new to the industry, so every person I meet is interesting to me.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

The industry is very competitive. You can combat this by keeping up-to-date with trends and not lag behind in order to stand out. Brushing up on your skills as a designer is also equally important. Personally, I learned that the connections and relationships you make with people are very important as they are the gateway for you to navigate and network in the industry that can lead to more exciting opportunities.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

NO. They weren’t really supportive of the idea at first and said I should just do it as a hobby. It took them some time to really get on board with the idea that I wanted to do something nontraditional. I did not let that change my goal of pursuing fashion. I would say my sister, Chyrille and boyfriend played a significant role in supporting me when I was about to give up on designing. They really pushed me to keep going and not give up.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I would remind myself to be more confident in my abilities and practice, practice, practice. It’s because I lacked the confidence to put myself out there. I wouldn’t have joined that competition to win that full scholarship which lead me to where I am now. But thankfully, with the support of my siblings and friends, I overcame that.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

It’s okay to fail, so don’t beat yourself up about it. You live, and you learn.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

I’ll just keep designing and putting myself out there in hopes of eventually having my own studio in different parts of the world. I also plan on hiring full-time tailors to help me bring my vision to life.

Emerging Fashion Designer Of The Week: Introducing The Talented Lidia Kokowicz

Lidia Kokowicz is a fashion designer who hails from Poland – she’s a graphic designer by education. Fashion has been with her since she was a child; from illustrations to changing into different outfits and shoes that were lying in her mother’s wardrobe – even then, she knew that she wanted to create her own projects. She won a scholarship at the Polish Fashion School, and she actively takes part in nationwide and international competitions – she has been published in various fashion magazines and has won many awards and distinctions. At the moment she’s working on her graduation collection at the School of Artistic Fashion Design in Krakow to obtain the title of fashion designer.

Her designs are appreciated by stylists and artists from all over the world. She transfers geometricity to her new fashion ideas, she deviates from patterns, and she likes large forms and interesting textures. She also paints clothes by hand and remakes shoes.

Some of her accomplishments include being asked to participate in the Cracow Fashion Awards fashion shows as a stylist, working with Karolina Płocka from the “Top Model” program – Polish edition, appearing in several publications such a Horizont magazine, Edith Magazine, Imirage magazine, Scorpio Jin Magazine and Malvie magazine. She has also been featured on the global American platform NOT JUST A LABEL based in London and Los Angeles, her artistic mask has been published in the Argentinian catalog of Centro Argentino de Arte Textil, and she won first place in the Polish Talent Support 2018 international competition in the FASHION category.

Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with Lidia to discuss her journey in the fashion world and here’s what went down:

How did you get into the fashion industry?

Since I was a child, I dreamed of entering the world of fashion. I was blessed with talent, I kept drawing dolls and characters. I bought a lot of fashion magazines, read interviews with designers, watched beautifully styled stars, and photo sessions. I decided that after studying graphic design I want to do a second school – Fashion. I managed to take 1st place in an international competition for my own collection, and the prize was a scholarship at the School of Artistic Fashion Design in Krakow. This is how I started creating dreams.

What do you like most about being a designer?

I know I’m in the right place, people like what I do. First of all, I combine work with passion, develop my own creativity, and meet a lot of interesting people. I love the moments when I get a lot of nice messages, questions, and requests for loans of my pieces. However, what I love the most is when, after completing the entire project, I am fully happy with the effect I wanted to achieve, even though it sometimes lasts all night. I know that my effort and fatigue were not wasted.

Downside to being a fashion designer?

If you love what you do, you don’t see any drawbacks in it, but in this profession, you can’t allow yourself to drop in form – you have to endure criticism and believe in yourself. In this world, one should be strong and confident. Stress keeps me motivated.

What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?

My first fashion show for sure! I was accompanied then by various emotions. I really wanted my styling to be perfect. I remember standing backstage waiting for my model to perform. I couldn’t believe it was happening, that I was there. Eventually, it hit me when my projects suddenly appeared in the public eye. I was very touched, to the point of tears. The second such situation took place at the Final Gala of the International Off Fashion Competition 2021, when the well-known and Polish fashion designer Marcin Paprocki, from the Paprocki & Brzozowski duo, personally wrote a message on my Instagram recognizing my projects. That was the second time I was so excited. For a novice designer, it is a great honor to read such words from a respected personage in the world of fashion.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

Certainly, stylists who dress other interesting artists. This broadens your friendships. It’s also important in this world, it’s good to show yourself. I also have fond memories of my collaboration with Karolina Płocka, a participant in the Polish edition of the “Top Model” program. She accepted my invitation to a photoshoot with my projects. That day the whole team couldn’t believe how I managed to convince Karolina to come. After all, we all knew her from TV before. As I mentioned earlier, my designs were also assessed by well-known Polish designers from the duo Paprocki & Brzozowski in the Final of the International Off Fashion Competition 2021. In this profession, it is important to be able to meet such people, above all not to be intimidated of it.

What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.

I learned patience and humility. I go ahead and do not look back at others. Some situations were supposed to happen, some the time would come. Always do your best. I remember many times when I couldn’t cope with fatigue and stress. However, I did not give up and I was rewarded for it. The fashion industry is for persistent and stubborn people. Another lesson is taking your own initiative. It bears fruit after a while. It all shaped my character and confidence a lot.

Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?

My family is a huge supporter of my work. They always cheer me on and enjoy my successes. In my case, everything happens very quickly, my mother can’t keep up and grabs her head with joy, because at one point, she wanted to be a fashion designer herself.

They appreciate my work, which I devote to the implementation of projects. My mother often advises me when it comes to sewing various elements of clothing because she has experience in this. It gives her pleasure.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

I don’t think I would change anything. Studying computer graphics, which I finished studying first, helps me in knowing programs, and these, as you know, are useful in fashion designing. In fact, the pandemic brought more creativity and energy out of me. I could spend more time on self-realization and showing myself as a fashion designer. I have a very positive response from my audience. I am at the right moment in my life, I am very happy with all my achievements, and I am going up. Even more and more interesting challenges come to me, I love what I do, I just continue to make my dreams come true.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

A lot of work, a lot of work, and a lot of work again!

I like it when the things I create are fully original and refined in every detail. Sometimes I prefer to make one great creation than ten bad ones. I am fully involved in my work as a designer, sometimes it involves some sacrifices. There are days when I spend the whole day working on projects, while my family or friends have a great time. I always reward myself for those days. I am used to the fact that working on continuous ideas is part of the profession of a designer.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

At this stage, I’m in the process of creating my graduation collection.

In the meantime, I have designed my own collection – you can follow my Instagram profile @kokowicz_lidia, and you will soon find out where my collection will be available.

In addition, I would like to start cooperating with an interesting sewing room, because I am thinking of designing my own footwear. I also hope that I will have the pleasure to dress an interesting red carpet star in my clothes. Of course, in the future, I intend to open my own brand.