By: Aubree Lynn
Bursting with flavor, personality and sweetness, I met him in a black and white fur vest, sporting a mo-hawk, holding a cigarette in one hand and a glass of wine in the other and pronouncing my name, Aubreé, as the French would say. This was at the press conference for Fashion Week San Diego, and my first encounter with the designer, Andre Soriano, whom I had been looking forward to interviewing all week. Meeting his team was also a treat; Monoj and Desi were just as full of life as Andre, with their own personalities and style. I left that evening looking forward to the upcoming Friday where I could go inside his studio and interview this power-house of creative energy. And so it begins…
AL: Who is Andre Soriano?
AS: Creative, sophisticated, classy, elegant gowns, modern, edgy, eccentric, fun, mysterious. Loves people and creating art of beauty in terms of fashion, music and museums. I love harmony and balance…all the senses working as one.
AL: How many collections do you put out in a year, and how many pieces are there in your collections at one time? How would you say you portray the storybook on your collections?
AS: Clothing: spring, summer and fall. Accessories: twice a year. I go for classic pieces with gowns that can be utilized fifty to sixty years from now. Each collection is normally ten gowns, with five to ten for trunk shows. For Fashion Week San Diego, my storybook follows old inspiration of Hollywood, such as Katherine and Audrey Hepburn, Jean Harlow, Joan Collins, and Veronica Lake…to newstars of Hollywood such as Kate Blanchet, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway.
AL: How much time before a show do you need to get your line completed?
AS: With accessories, I plan six months out. With gowns, I plan about one month or two in advance. I do all the sewing.I use seamstresses and manufacturers as needed, but mainly,I do it all.
AL: In which stores do you sell your clothing, in San Francisco and San Diego?
AS: In San Francisco, I sell in Paulo Alto…where I have accessories. In Downtown San Diego, I have a few pieces in the East Village at Dianne O. Atelier. (Soriano pulls out a hard-stock bio and print of Atelier’s store).You can order and view online at andresoriano.com and dianneo.com.
AL: How many fashion weeks have you been in and how are they different each time?
AS: (He laughs). This is my first one! I am so honored that Allison invited me to be a part of it. She saw my stuff at Ambush (an art and fashion show held at Horton Plaza). This is how I got my exposure in fashion. San Francisco is more of my community. Gowns and clientele, that is my destination other than them coming to my place. I make gowns for cocktail events and the opera. For this Fashion Week I hope to gain exposure with San Diego seeing soft, eccentric and classy pieces.I want them to be informed of who I am and to build a strong client base here.
AL: What is your favorite part of the fashion design business? What is your least favorite part?
AS: The freedom to create. I get personal gratification from the clients I gain. When they love it (he sighs), there is nothing better or more rewarding then that. Just to have clients, and the public, embrace your work, is so fulfilling. The least that I enjoy is wanting to party after an event, and then being informed I have to work early the next day. (Referring to the press conference Soriano had night before FWSD. He was informed the next morning that he had to be in Coronado for a shoot at 8:00 a.m.). I love it but it can get hard to want to have fun,but the next day having to be back to the grind on such short notice.
AL: Do you have a stylist you work with here in San Diego for your shoots? Is there a certain protocol you follow?
AS: Manoj takes care of it all. I have make-up artists galore, models galore, hairstylists galore, and photographers galore. They put together all the looks and I am there to oversee it all. If anyone wanted to use our gowns they could just go through Manoj and set it up. We are very open about our pieces, and for the most part everyone is very considerate about borrowing our clothing for shoots.
AL: How would you describe your personal style?
AS: I’m a chameleon. Preferably I go for classic. Modern: so many influences I admire, from artists like Madonna to Lady Gaga; they are always reinventing themselves. I, too, try and reinvent myself and keep it fresh. That’s how me and Thomas, (his husband), have been together for sixteen years. Without that, it gets old and boring which is no fun.
AL: Where do you expect the Soriano Team to be in one year? Normally people would say five to ten years, but because I believe in your work and have seen your gowns up close, I will say one year.
AS: Ohhh, well thank you so much! I hope to have a good platform for San Diego and Fashion Week. I want to be viewed in Hollywood for glamour, picking strong statements and focusing on those for my pieces. I want to have a recognized signature (as he shows me pictures of his dresses with a unique triangle opening in the back which is very statement/signature driven). I want people to embrace my new collections and let them decide for themselves, and if they want to place an order, that would be great too! (He laughs.)
Andre Soriano left me with an inspiration, not only for the future of his career but for the San Diego community, “Everyone is in San Diego for whatever their career is. Fashion design, styling…but they leave San Diego to go to larger cities to start their career, leaving it open for anyone in San Diego to make a name for themselves…leaving room for me.”
That statement is so spot-on, it is not even funny. To plant yourself where you are and to develop your name and contacts is the best way to get your name out there to a tight knit base and then to grow to those cities that everyone is over populating with their creativity.
Category: Life Style