Being the fashion enthusiasts we are, we’re always on the lookout for the next Alexander Wang or Zac Posen. It’s kind of the same way hipsters are always on the lookout for the next band – we want something fresh, young, amazing, and oh-so new.
Italy-based designer fresh off of NBC’s Fashion Star, Silvia Arguello, might just be what we were looking for. Chictopia got the chance to chat with the young designer behind Rosa Clandestino about the industry, inspiration, the show, and Vogue Italia. Read on and meet on.
Tell me about your background. How did you get into this industry and how long have you been a part of it?
“I wanted to pursue a fashion career as soon as I graduated from high-school…but, it was not that easy. My father suggested I studied, ‘what would be useful in life no matter what’ before taking any creative route.
My fashion journey finally started after I graduated both with a BBA in Marketing and a BA in French and moved to Paris to study Fashion Design. While in Paris, I landed a job at Emanuel Ungaro haute-couture fashion house. Mr. Ungaro’s savoir-faire and Giambattista Valli’s new ideas were the best ‘finishing school’ I could have ever attended. Four years later, I moved to Milano to pursue a masters degree in Fashion Accessories at the Marangoni Institute. Between Paris and Milano, I’ve been in the fashion industry for 15 years now!"
What or who inspires you?
“For some reason, the process of creating always ends-up being organic and natural for me. People, places, experiences…my sensitive side is really at the core of my collections and contemporary art has a big influence on my work! I’m curious by nature and inspiration can come in the form of a person, a situation, a place. Sometimes the art piece speaks to me, sometimes the artist!”
Collections change every season, but every clothing brand has its own distinct characteristics – for example, you will always recognize a Marc Jacobs or Alexander Wang piece, even without seeing the label. What characteristics makes Rosa Clandestino what it is?
“On one hand, my eclectic roots; on the other, the ‘wearable art’ concept!
I’ve lived in so many different countries and experienced so many diverse cultures that my style reflects the contrast between those far-away and sophisticated places. I come from colorful Latin America and the people, folklore, music, colors and nature influenced my heart and sensibility. I became a designer in Europe, so my fashion, style and sophistication are a reflection of it.
I like to think of my pieces as wearable art and my customers as collectors! My love of art is cultivated through special collaborations with selected artists from all over the world whose works become part of the collections. Every single aspect pays the utmost attention to details: from the couture-tailoring, to the style, materials, packaging and the art within the silk lining. The meaning of a dress changes, from an ordinary and commercial look to one of a kind wearable art."
Who is the Rosa Clandestino woman?
“The Rosa Clandestino woman doesn’t need follow trends, is willing to defy the status quo and stays true to her beliefs, herself and her personal style. She travels and is in constant evolution, well informed, curious, sophisticated and sensitive to social issues.”
Describe your latest collection in six words.
“Sophisticated, natural, artsy, feminine, tailored, detail-oriented.”
Why the name Rosa Clandestino and not your own? What are the name’s origins?
“My ecletic background inspired me to ‘become’ Rosa Clandestino!!! I was born in the US to exiled parents, a Cuban mother and a Nicaraguan father; raised in Honduras, and moved to Paris when I was 20 years old.
Linking fashion to art and people appeared to be the most natural way to express the diversity of cultures I had experienced and the contrast between the faraway and sophisticated places I had lived in.
Rosa? The beauty within, the feminine side of the brand, the European experience in my life. Clandestino? My eclectic roots. I feel my sophisticated side belongs to Europe, my heart to America!"
Winning Vogue Italia’s “Who’s Next” Competition is no small feat! How did this change your path or open doors?
“Being selected by Vogue Italia as ‘Who’s on Next’ in the fashion industry has been one of the most significant moments in my career. Vogue Italia is like the ‘fashion bible’ and the fact that they highlighted my name and placed a ‘stamp of approval’ on my work not only opened many doors but also meant a lot of responsibility. They trusted me and I had to deliver!”
You had an extremely successful run NBC’s Fashion Star, outselling every other contestant this season – wow! What was it like being on the show?
“It was definitely a priceless experience, great advice, amazing stores, good talent, huge stress!!!
Working alongside America’s biggest retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Express and the opportunity to listen to their personal advice was worth every minute. Moreover, the diverse experiences and success stories of John Varvatos, Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie were the biggest motivation to continue my fashion journey."
Of course, it’s hard to talk about NBC’s Fashion Star without discussing your elimination on the show last Friday. Can you tell us any thoughts you have on that, or any inspirational words to share with us?
“As I was walking to the final interview, I remembered a quote by Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Batman’s Joker, ‘if you gotta go – go with a smile.’ Ever since the beginning I trusted the ‘One Upstairs’ and feel he made sure I left a winner! I guess I have learned not to question His decisions!
Thinking back, what else could’ve I ask for as final outcome? I was the first ever contestant to be bought every single episode and reached the highest sales to date!"
Fashion Star Representative for Saks Fifth Avenue, Terron Schaefer referred to you as the “most talented designer in this competition,” which means there’s certainly no way we won’t be hearing about you in the future! What are your plans for Rosa Clandestino now?
“Certainly not! I must confess, what I am most grateful for is the support, recognition and trust Saks Fifth Avenue’s Executive Vice-President Terron Schaefer bestowed on me throughout the entire season. He bid on almost every piece I sent down the runway! This is HUGE! Staying true to my DNA and design aesthetic was probably what got Saks Fifth’s Avenue’s approval and I feel very honored. Now it’s on my shoulders for this relationship to grow and last in time.”
Plans for Rosa Clandestino?
“It’s a constant evolution process! I am currently preparing the launch of my online shop: RosaClandestinoShop.com this May! As a perfectionist, I have worked really hard to make it an exclusive experience: from the moment collectors land on the shop to when they receive the package on the doorstep of their home…in the end, I believe it’s all about the details!”
Image courtesy of Pointe Groupe