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Fabian Renteria's DEBUT Collection is Inspired by Mortal Kombat and Revenge

Fabian Renteria's DEBUT Collection is Inspired by Mortal Kombat and Revenge

Born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Glendale, Arizona, where he attended Deer Valley High School, Fabian Renteria taught himself to sew at the tender age of 10. After moving to Los Angeles in 2018, to study Fashion Design, Fabian got his first internship, followed by freelancing jobs, with FIDM Graduate Candice Cuoco. For the last nine months, the BERNINA Brand Ambassador has worked on his inaugural collection, which will make its debut in FIDM’s Annual DEBUT Runway Show event live-streaming on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM PDT. We caught up with the designer, who said, “Like Madonna said: I want to conquer the world.” 

Tell us about your DEBUT collection: Entitled “The Revenant,” my collection is inspired by the undead warriors of the Mortal Kombat universe. The story of Kitana became the main source of inspiration as it also relates to me. As someone who felt out of place growing up, this allowed me to make a strong connection. My collection represents a woman who lived her life in fear and dealt with a great amount of internal conflict. She did not discover her true power until she was murdered and resurrected as a twisted version of herself. This collection serves as a “revenge” wardrobe for the new life she is living. Geometric lines and shapes are incorporated throughout the collection to create a sensual, futuristic, yet sophisticated look. I pulled lots of ideas and even put in subtle references from the things they wore throughout the Mortal Kombat 11 story into my collection.
What silhouettes and fabrics can we expect to see? Since time is part of the backstory to my collection, there are hourglass, inverted triangle, and A-line silhouettes. I wanted to lean more towards "comfy chic" for my collection. Since Covid-19 has completely changed how women are dressing, I wanted to address this in using higher end fabrics that are comfortable but can still make a strong impact. I am using Ponte De Roma that is soft and luxurious to the touch as my base fabric and layering it with bamboo jersey. Leather is also a big part of my collection so you can definitely expect to see that on the runway. 

What is your point of view, as a designer? There has always been a high level of fantasy behind my work. I honestly wish everyone could dress like the way they do in futuristic/science fiction movies like Tron or Oblivion. As with my DEBUT collection, I want to normalize new and unusual shapes that you normally would not see in your everyday clothing. I think this industry is ready for something new to see. Marketing class during my first quarter of DEBUT made me realize that as a designer being marketable is so important, but you have to find a way to still be "you." If you can't make clothes that will appeal to the masses, you will not succeed. As Isaac Mizrahi once said, "Fashion design must be consumed or it is a failure."
How do you hope people will feel when they see your designs? I want people to be surprised and love what they see. I want them to feel the passion and the endless hours that went into creating each and every piece of this collection. I want people to see this strong, confident, edgy woman who has this dark aura to her that lives in my head. This is my moment to let everyone see what is in my head. Of course, I want people to want my clothes — and buy them.

What inspires you as a creative and as a fashion designer? Being a former classical musician gave me this deep appreciation for music and when I am designing there's always music involved. I am also very inspired by fashion from countries such as China and Japan and the wardrobe choices in my favorite European artists such as Ameerah and DJ Project. As strange as it may sound, I am at my most creative during a thunderstorm and in the very late hours of the night.

Lady Gaga is my biggest inspiration. The "Born This Way" era was a huge moment. Her look was sexy, rock ‘n’ roll, but also had a futuristic feeling to it as does everything she has done. It's one of my career goals to dress her as well as to design an entire tour wardrobe for her someday. Video Games are another source of inspiration to me because they are an escape from your own reality and that's also what fashion should be. 
What is a lesson you’ve learned as you’ve been working on your collection? One lesson that I've learned is the importance of fit. It can make or break a design. My eye has improved so much in being able to identify fit issues and the flat pattern techniques to correct them. I have had a couple instances where my idea was not the issue, but the fit. Once corrected, it gave me the end result I wanted.

Tell us about your path to FIDM: I was strongly considering not going to college after graduating from high school in 2015. I looked at different schools in Phoenix, but none of them were the right fit. I got back in touch with my Admissions Advisor Seung Kim who I spoke to through email a few times, during my sophomore year. Next thing I knew I was accepted and was going to begin classes in the Fall of 2018. It was not easy to get to FIDM by any means. My family and I lived a pretty great life in Arizona. At the last minute my family decided to come with me. We knew what we were sacrificing to be able to make it happen. I am so thankful that they did this to help me get through school. During my time in the AA program I worked a part time job three days a week along with some freelance work to help pay rent and fund my transportation to and from campus every week. Just like any new chapter of life, there have been highs and lows, but It has helped me appreciate being here so much more. 
How is FIDM helping you get closer to your career goals? FIDM has allowed me to connect with so many people in the fashion industry. I have had several teachers that have helped me make more connections because of people they know, too. For example, the Department Chairs of the Fashion Design department referred me to a designer named Louis Verdad to do some illustration work for a project he was pitching to Netflix. He has dressed notable people like Madonna and Fifth Harmony. Building relationships while at FIDM is crucial. FIDM has also taught me what I need to know to be successful after graduation. I got to take Draping and Pattern Drafting classes and even learn about the Business of Fashion.

Listening to my instructor's stories of experiences they had in the industry was a big way FIDM helped me prepare for the real world. My portfolio was also put into the Digital Portfolio Exhibition and because of that I was offered a spot as a designer for Shein among other opportunities. This allows me to create collections that consumers can shop and purchase. FIDM can help you get closer to your goals as long as you make use of the time you have here on campus. It is honestly what you make of it. Study hard, show up prepared to class, and do not let anything get in your way. You are going to have moments where you feel defeated. Push through and you will see your hard work pay off. I promise!

Any advice for someone considering applying to be a DEBUT student? I would say to just be yourself and show that you are eager to learn and evolve in this program. If you are not that strong of a pattern maker or a sewer, do not let that stop you. Choose only your best work to show in the interview and be prepared to answer the important questions. You will be working long hours in this program, but It is so rewarding once your collection starts to come together.
What is it like being a brand ambassador for BERNINA? Being a BERNINA Ambassador has been such a great experience. I am currently under contract representing their newer line of machines through their sister company bernette. Before DEBUT began, I reached out to a few sewing machine companies I wanted to work with. Since I was going to be creating a collection for the runway, I figured this would be the perfect time to do this. I had a phone call with them and I wrote a guest blog post on their blog called "WeAllSew" and shortly after I received an email saying I was accepted into their Ambassador Program. 

Being an Ambassador means that I am loaned a sewing machine that they choose for me. I promote this machine through social media and showing what I am creating with it. Contributing to the blog is another part of being an ambassador. I was thinking about blogging about sewing for quite some time so this worked out great! The best part for me, is connecting with other makers who are helping promote this company, and who make beautiful and reliable equipment for creatives such as myself, to make their creative dreams come true. 

Follow Fabian Renteria on Instagram @_fabian_renteria_.

Categories:  Advanced Fashion Design Alumni Student