Anna Charest grew up in the one- traffic-light town of Brimfield, MA, where she learned to sew before entering kindergarten. After joining a 4-H sewing club, Anna was introduced to lead line competitions, modeling original wool apparel while leading a sheep, which fueled her exploration of wool uses including knitting, penny-rug and needle-felting. “My collection, HONOR, is inspired by convertible Civil War medical wagons and by Dr. Mary Edwards Walker. A female surgeon during the Civil War, she was the only woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Likewise I have been inﬂuenced by strong and passionate women and with this collection, I honor them,” she says.
A native of Oakland, CA, Christopher Maracha found drawing to be his favorite childhood hobby. As a designer, he gravitates towards details such as color- blocking, mixing contrasting fabrics and colors. Initially he imagined himself illustrating comic books, but soon realized he enjoyed designing the characters’ costumes more than the scenes. He’s secured editorial coverage in Kaltblut, a European fashion magazine, and his illustrations appeared in Lady Gaga‘s 2009 Book of Gaga. “I strive to take the average man’s idea of fashion and push his boundaries. From eclectic color choices and unusual fabrications to layers of sheer mesh, I want men to realize that they don’t have to wake up in the morning and throw on that old t-shirt and jeans,” he says.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Miami, FL, native, Gustavo Alonso earned many accolades as a budding fashion designer even before graduation. He is the 2012 winner of The Diet Coke Young Designer’s Challenge, provided red carpet dresses for Zuleyka Rivero (Miss Universe 2006) and Michelle Vargas (Latin Billboards), and was a finalist for the CFDA Scholarship Award, the Cool vs. Cruel Fashion Design Competition, the Jet Blue Fashion Show and the Peroni Young Designer Award 2012. “I enjoy structure and precise technique, which is a reflection of my military background,” he says. “My designs reflect my obsession with combining contrasting elements to create a harmonious balance.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Joshuan Aponte first learned about fashion by watching his grandmother make girls’ school uniforms, and his aunt create bridal fashions. He honed his passion by first studying the work ofOscar de la Renta and other international designers, including current favorite Alexander McQueen. Joshuan showed his Amort Doré capsule collection with fellow designers from The Art Institute of New York City in the Spring/Summer 2013 show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. For Fall 2014, he says, “My new capsule collection explores patterns, lines, construction and volume of the toruses around us every day, from a diamond molecule to the magnetic field of the earth.”
Luis Gabriel Aponte left his native Puerto Rico to pursue fashion design at Miami International University of Art & Design in 2012, and showcased his designs at a number of school events including the Cool vs. Cruel competition, in which he was the national grand prize winner in 2013. Luis specializes in womenswear, cocktail dresses and special event attire, and his aesthetic is feminine, sophisticated and elegant. “For Fall/Winter 2014, I am presenting a collection for a woman who is not afraid of being noticed. This collection, entitled Metamorphosis, is inspired by the colors, textures and unique wing designs of butterflies,” he says. “Using these elements as a guide, I designed and created one-of-a kind fabrics for the pieces.”
Lauren Barisic owes a lot of her success to a supportive family including her siblings, who acted as accomplices, or sometimes victims, to all of her creative endeavors growing up in Fresno, CA. Her aesthetic embodies the American woman, which resonates with a desire to someday run an American-made lifestyle brand. She currently serves as secretary of the Delta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Beta Kappa Honors Society at The Art Institute of California – San Francisco. “My aesthetic embodies the American woman,” she says. “It is this woman who inspires me to create for her, as well as her story – where she comes from, where she is going, her interests, passions and aspirations.”
A native of Lima, Peru, Lorena Cabrera’s journey in fashion began when she was very young. She initially studied architecture but after a few years decided to switch focus and pursue a degree in apparel design at The Art Institute of Portland. “Although I decided not pursue architecture as my career, I am still deeply inspired by many aspects of architecture,” she says. “I love the idea of creating spaces and different shapes using the body as my canvas. My ability to adapt and embrace the changes that life brings keeps me open to new opportunities and allows me to continue learning as a designer.”
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Michael Doyle worked as a union carpenter in Boston until age 24. He enrolled in the Fashion Design program at The Art Institute of New York City in pursuit of a more creative and less physical career. He was one of the students selected to show his Spring/Summer 2014 collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in September, and has held internships with Anya Ponorovskaya and J. Mendel. “I like to evoke emotion in my designs, and am a serious advocate for the coexistence of art and fashion as one,” he says. “I lean towards the avant-garde, historical, and experimental, yet with a strict discipline of what is modern and transferable into the day.”
Ryan Edmonds was born and raised in Portland, OR, in a family of five and is one half of the design team, RG, along with German Madrigal. After leaving a studio art major program, he enrolled in the Apparel Design program at The Art Institute of Portland. His interest in design extends beyond the garment itself to its overall engineering. Over time, he’s grown into a more minimal designer with an extreme emphasis on construction. “I am inspired by what I see and experience every day. I look to fashion icons as examples of where I want to go,” says Ryan. “Fashion is my outlet for total expression and the studio is where I escape to. This is where I feel most at home.”
German Madrigal of Vancouver, WA , has had to overcome many personal and physical obstacles in order to start his career in apparal design. He is one half of the design team, RG, along with Ryan Edmonds. These experiences have inspired simplicity and minimalism in his designs. During his time at The Art Institute of Portland, he has learned to reshape classic silhouettes into detailed garments that transcend the idea personal style. “My customer recognizes the overlap in professional and personal life, and I invite them to dress with obtainable pieces, confidently pushing their own style,” he says.
Rei Yamamoto was inspired to become a fashion designer after watching her grandmother sew dolls with kimono fabrics as a child in Okinawa, Japan. She has shown her designs at several fashion shows, including The Art Institute of California – San Francisco fashion show where she won the Best Construction award. A year later, she graduated from the school with honors and won the Best Portfolio award. “I have an interest in both women’s and men’s ready-to- wear. My inspirations mostly come from art, especially Surrealism paintings, which have influenced my aesthetic as a designer,” she says. “I aim to create clothing that’s unexpected and new and love to merge vintage and modern aesthetics.”
Samuel Ciccone grew up in West Chester, PA and was born with design in his blood. His mother is an artist, his father a landscape designer and his late grandfather, Severino Ciccone, was a famous graphic designer whose work includes the Philadelphia Flyers logo. During his studies at The Art Institute of Philadelphia, he’s interned with Tuleste, Michael Kors and Anna Sui. “My design philosophy is inspired by femininity and the plays of dark and light fragments. My current collection is based on the concept of softened or sharpened textures, when touched by light,” he says. “These designs are intended to work together as layering pieces; every garment has a purpose to represent being uniquely you.”
Born in Kingstown, Jamaica, Simone Young found early inspiration to explore fashion design following her upbringing in the Caribbean. There she developed a strong appreciation for the energy, architecture, color and vibrancy that only Kingston has to offer. As a teenager, her family moved to New York City and prior to enrolling into The Art Institute of New York City fashion program, she designed and crafted for Creative Costumes in New York. “My design aesthetic focuses on simplicity and sophistication with elements of whimsy,” she says.
Photos Credit: Courtesy of Art Institute