DEBUT Student Maryam Varshochi's Collection Was Inspired by Op Art
Recent Advanced Study Fashion Design Student Maryam Varshochi was raised in an artistic family in Tehran, Iran. Her father owned the country’s first sewing machine company, Kachiran, and her mother studied embroidery and sewing in Japan, with a seven-year-old Maryam in tow. “That year changed my life forever,” she says. After finishing high school in Iran, she studied architecture in London, where she resided for nearly a decade. Always passionate about fashion, Maryam decided to enroll at FIDM to pursue her dreams of seeing her own collection on the runway.
Tell us about your DEBUT collection: I always knew FIDM from Project Runway and my goal was to see my own collection on a runway. Because of my architecture and math background, I was inspired by geometric shapes and negative and positive space. I learned about op art, which is a style of visual art that uses optical illusions, often in black and white. One of my challenges was that I was more of an avant-garde designer, but my mentor, Mr. V, pushed me to have my style, but tone it down and think more about the business side of a collection. I think I was successful. The 12 looks that I designed are individual, but they go together – you can mix and match most of my looks.
Tell us about your path to FIDM: When I first got into FIDM, I didn't know how to sew, even though my mum is an excellent sewer and my dad has a sewing machine company. So I learned fast, and I was able to learn patterns quickly because of my architectural background; I understood lines and draping so fast, which was exciting. In the second year, my family came to LA to visit me and my dad got sick. It was such a sad time for my family. I fought for my dad's life, but I lost him. I couldn't go back to study and I talked to my advisor. She was so kind as to tell me to take time off. I went back to Tehran for the quarter.
When I returned, it was the last quarter and it was tough for me to go back to normal life. But I decided to be successful for my dad. He always wanted me to be an independent woman, even though I grew up in an Islamic country. During the time that I lived in Iran, I not only lost my freedom, but also opportunities. However, I believe that times are changing for new modern women. I thought I needed to be the woman that he wanted me to be, so I went back to FIDM.
Eventually, I had an interview for the Advanced Fashion Design program and was accepted and fortunate to receive a scholarship. I was so excited. The DEBUT 2020 designers are all so talented. They have different styles, and it was amazing to work around these creative students. I learned a lot about the industry, models, buying the right fabric, and my sewing skills got better. As I imagined it, finishing the collection was the best feeling for me to experience.
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? After DEBUT’s cancellation due to COVID-19 we were so upset. I decided to continue my studies at FIDM during this time and get my BA degree and finish my education the way that I want it. I take my classes online and study online, which is a new experience for me. I was so lucky to get another scholarship for the BA program.
No one could have imagined a global pandemic would force DEBUT to be canceled. How are you supporting one another or comforting yourself during this difficult time? All of us worked so hard for our collection, and we were so close to the final stage, and then DEBUT was canceled. I was upset and disappointed, but it was a pandemic circumstance and no one could do anything. One thing I did to help me to remain calm or feel better was to help make almost 300 masks for kids and adults. Through Student Activities, I saw that they asked for the sewer to help, and I was so happy that I could be part of that, so I joined that team to make the masks for kids and adults for free.
What do you hope people take away when seeing your designs? I want people to see my way of thinking as a designer. When you create something, there is the way you think at that time, your mood, and your feeling. I want people to see the connection that I had emotionally and visually in my collection, and I hope they enjoy it. Whenever I see something new or creative, I always smile. I hope they do too.
FIDM regrets that, due to precautionary measures brought on by coronavirus, or COVID-19, we are canceling this year’s DEBUT and related events. In compliance with government recommendations, we plan to reschedule the event when it is possible to do so. We take the safety of our guests, students, staff, and faculty very seriously and thank you in advance for your understanding during this uncertain time.
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