Margie Paolicchi

Editor's note: Through this week, Fashionably Cleveland is paying homage to up-and-coming local designers. Each story subject is a graduating senior at Kent State University, and each story is written by another KSU student. Keep an eye out for these emerging fashion designers - you'll surely be hearing more about them in the future.

Kent State University senior fashion design major Margie Paolicchi has been sewing for 12 years. What was once a hobby became a career choice the minute she realized she could apply her creativity to an occupation in the fashion industry. Paolicchi has spent the past few years studying design, interning at big-name labels and working on her collection for the spring fashion show, Re:Create. 

Paolicchi has four looks hitting the catwalk with inspiration drawn from modern and Byzantine mosaic art. She found a few minutes amidst the hustle and bustle of preparing for the fashion show to answer some questions about her experience, inspiration and a few other things she’s learned along the way. 

Where are you from?

I’m originally from Chicago. I grew up in a little town called Berwyn, which is right outside of Chicago, and I’ve been there all the way until pretty much college when I moved out here.

When and why did you start sewing?

I started sewing when I was about 10 years old. My mom actually taught me how to make pajama pants and pillows. I used to have trouble finding pants that were long enough on me so I started making my own pants. I used to get really frustrated with it, so my mom taught me how to sew. Then it was a hobby of mine. 

I actually didn’t even really think about majoring in fashion because I didn’t even know it was something you could do until I went looking for colleges with my older brother. He went to Purdue, and at Purdue they had a fashion program so I just kind of went on the tour with him. I was a freshman or sophomore in high school, and I was checking [the program] out. I was really interested. It sounded really fun so it kind of got me interested in doing it. 

So once I decided I wanted to do that, I started taking more sewing classes and drawing classes and trying to get more skills before I went to college.

What was your inspiration for the collection?

Originally it was mosaic art. I was really inspired by all the rich colors of the really old mosaic, Byzantine Empire and stuff like that, and then it just kind of evolved [from there]. 

I was looking at modern mosaic and different textures and glass, using tiles, and I wanted to use a lot of different fabrics and textures within my collection. I mean, you would look at it and you probably wouldn’t immediately see mosaic because it’s not a lot of beading, and it’s not really like hodgepodge put together. But I use a lot of colorful and rich fabrics. 

I have a manipulation that I smocked my fabric on my coat and some other things that you get that kind of broken up feeling on some of the garments.

How long have you been working on it?

We originally designed [our] collection our spring semester of junior year. So I think it was probably around last April, and then we designed it, sent it up to our school, and they critiqued it and sent back comments to us over the summer. Then we had to revise our designs, and then we did all the sewing in the fall semester. So we finished sewing in December, and since then we haven’t really done much with it except do model fittings and stuff like that. 

Do you have a favorite look from your collection?

It’s this black coat that I made, and I did the smocking on the front and the bottom of it. Smocking helps make the fit on the jacket, and I really like the way it fits and the silhouette. 

I like the way it looks. It’s very clean, but at the same time, it has a little flare at the bottom. 

It took me a long time to make, too. I spent a lot of time making that one so that’s probably why it’s my favorite because it was the fruits of my labor.

What’s your aesthetic like?

I’m more of a classic designer. I’m into sophisticated and simple silhouettes. I would say I line myself with designers like Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan — those types of designers - just because I think everything is very modern and clean and just classic designs that, you know, are timeless for any generation really. 

Who’s your favorite designer?

I’d probably say Oscar de la Renta. I’ve loved him forever — as long as I can remember, and as soon as I got interested in fashion. I just think every year his fabrics and silhouettes are great, and I just think he’s fantastic. 

What internships/jobs have you done during college?

My first internship was spring semester last year, and I interned with a contemporary women’s wear company called Tibi, and I really liked that one. It was really great. Tibi does a lot with prints, and they’re very colorful, and it was actually a lot of fun to work there. 

My last internship was over the summer with Badgley Mischka, and I worked on their platinum, ready-to-wear collection. That was definitely an interesting experience because it was very designer level. 

What are some of your plans after graduation?

I’m planning on moving to New York. I actually have an internship set up that I’ll start in June, and hopefully after that it will turn into a full-time job, but I plan on just going to New York right after.

What’s your dream job?

It’s a little far in the future, but I’d love to have my own line and be able to work on my own stuff and work for myself and everything. Immediately, I’d like to be an assistant designer at a higher designer label.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010