Saturday, April 19, 2008

Interview with designer Natasha Ferro

(Natasha Ferro at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week)

Natasha Ferro is a 22-year-old Toronto-based designer who just showed her first namesake collection at Toronto Alternative Fashion Week. Natasha has just completed her undergraduate degree in fashion at Ryerson University and she is trying to make a name for herself in the fashion industry. I met Natasha on a Ryerson trip to France and we've kept in contact mostly because I've bought several pieces from her jewellery line One-of-a-Kind Jewelry which she designs and handcrafts herself.
I talked to Natasha on the phone a couple nights ago about her first collection at FAT, what her inspirations are and how she plans to stand out in such a competitive industry.

Chloe: What was the reception of your collection at FAT like?

Natasha: It went really well, better than I could have expected. One guy came up to me and said 'I want to be a designer too. You've inspired me, can I have my photo taken with you?' It was strange because I'm just a student too. A lot of people liked it. I got emails from people who want to buy clothes from the collection but I can't sell them yet because I am entering the collection in a competition.

Chloe: What was your inspiration for the collection?

Natasha: I wanted it to have a costume feel like ready-to-wear. I like plays and the Russian landscape inspired the colour palette of green, purple and red and the Russian tapestries inspired it as well. I picked fairytale characters with a Russian palette. I played on my costume background. The Grimms fairytale, the dark stories really inspired it.

(Photo: Greg Paupst)

Chloe: How long did it take you to make the collection?

Natasha: I started drawing the collection in mid-November (2007) and I found out in December that I was accepted into FAT and I worked on it until a week before FAT (April 8, 2008.)

Chloe: How challenging was it making your first collection?

Natasha: I was working from home so I didn't have fellow peers to give me criticism. I did it blindly and I thought that no one was going to like it so I got stressed.

Chloe: What kind of materials do you use in the collection?

Natasha: Metallic linens, cotton, sparkly denim, red twill, silk, wool. I like an eclectic mix of fabric.

(Photo: Greg Paupst)

Chloe: Who are your favorite designers?

Natasha: Etro. I love how it's all wacky and crazy with different colours. It's very different. They use a lot of different fabrics and textures.

Chloe: What do you think of your time at Ryerson?

Natasha: Overall I liked being at Ryerson. I did so much in a such a crazy time frame. I can see how much I've grown and I'm thankful now for the obstacles because it's made me a better designer.

(Photo: Greg Paupst)

Chloe: What is your dream job?

Natasha: My dream job would be an assistant designer at Etro. Even their website is different; it's humorous and it has their own Etro alphabet. I would want a job that has a sense of humour but where you can get work done.

Chloe: How competitive is it for those looking to break into fashion designing?

Natasha: It's definitely competitive. I don't even know where to start. I have to start over. There are so many design schools in Toronto but I think Ryerson is the best.

Chloe: Now that you're done school, what do you want to do next?

Natasha: I want to go abroad to Europe. Might do my Masters or an internship at a fashion house. I'm not going to get a job without experience.

Chloe: Do you think showing at FAT helped your career?

Natasha: The exposure alone- the stylists, phtographers made it worth it because I made the contacts and I got tons of experience.

(Photo: Greg Paupst)

Chloe: What was it like seeing the models wear your clothes?

Natasha: It was really cool. I didn't actually get to see the models because I was backstage but it really hit me when I came out at the end for the walkthrough with the models. I was happy and sad but felt very confident with my collection. It was bittersweet.

Chloe: What else are you doing besides designing clothes?

Natasha: I'm doing more jewelllery. I'm trying different pieces and trying to get them into boutiques. There's a masters program in Italy and I have family there so it would make sense if I went there. I'm also just getting ready for the competition.

Chloe: What are the challenges to being a new fashion designer?

Natasha: It's hard to promote myself. Some people have a natural talent to sell stuff without sounding arrogant. I want my reputation built on word of mouth but I need to be stronger at selling myself. The competition is ridiculous especially in the city because there are less jobs and more people.

Chloe: How did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Natasha: I always thought I would go into art. When I was in Grade 11 a teacher started a fashion class and I took it on a whim and I fell in love with it and I became obsessed with fashion and making clothes.

(Photo: Greg Paupst)

Chloe: What are your favorite fashion magazines?

Natasha: I'm a fashion magazine whore. It's inspiring to see something in someone's design and try it in your own way. That's what designers do, they learn from each other. I really like Lucky magazine believe it or not. It's more for people who buy clothes and go shopping. I don't care to read the articles in Vogue or Vanity Fair. I like the UK edition of Elle too.

Chloe: Tell me about your jewellery.

Natasha: It started with being a Type A personality. I cannot not do something. I made a necklace for a photoshoot in 2006 and someone wanted it so I just made one. In Jan. 2007 I was working on my final collection for school and my mind went 'I'm going to teach myself how to make jewellery' so I went to Queen St. for supplies and I just started selling them.

Chloe: Anything else you want to say about your collection at FAT?

Natasha: One girl told me my colection made her emotional. It was a different kind of recognition. It's so different to have complete strangers react to your work.

You can buy Natasha's jewellery by contacting her through her Facebook group One-of-a-Kind Jewelry
and you can purchase her clothes from her F/W 2008 collection through her Facebook group Natasha Ferro.

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