Fashion Graduate Profile: Marie Potesta
Marie Potesta, 2008 Fashion and Knitwear Design Graduate
Potesta premiered her senior collection at the Academy's February 2008 Mercedes-Benz New York
Fashion Week Show, landing in the pages of
Women’s Wear Daily, California Apparel News and on WNBC TV
Today in New York.
After becoming the Styles 2008 Avant Garde Category Winner at GenArt’s 10th Anniversary
Styles Awards and Runway Show in New York City this year, Marie was featured on Style.com,
San Francisco Chronicle and included in Worth Global Style
Network’s round up of the most promising design talent from around the world.
Marie is launching her own line this year.
Tell us about your senior collection
I utilized the ideas of Japanese origami and noshi (a sort of good luck token made of
folded strips of paper) in my woven garments. I was very conscious of fabric manipulation, trying
to fold my fabric in different shapes using minimal cuts and clean finished edges to create a
garment with a modern feel. Op Art is my secondary inspiration. I have always been attracted to
contrast in the use of black and white as I find it to be dramatic and effortless in its minimal
Why did you
go into fashion?
I think it was always going to be something I needed to do. I have a family history in
fashion and that made it seem like a natural transition.Then one day my sister and I were both
working in the graphic design industry and we, since we were young, had always talked about
starting our own clothing/accessories line. So we did. We started very small and sold at boutiques
in the Bay Area. It was good timing then because the Dotcom boom was dying out, and we had more
free time to go back to school to learn about the industry. She went first and I paid the rent. She
got a job at Levis and then it
was my turn and that is how I came to study at Academy of Art University.
Who inspired you to go into fashion?
My grandparents. My grandfather was a shoemaker and my grandmother was a dressmaker. My
grandmother studied at one of the top fashion schools in Milan. By the time I was young she was
retired, but she had a business out of her house making clothes and doing alterations. My parents
worked a lot so I spent a lot of time with my grandmother in her sewing room. I would watch her
make a wedding dress pattern out of newspaper and then it would become this beautiful gown. It was
amazing when I think about it. I was wearing one of the shirts she made me one day after she had
passed away, and I was drinking some tea. When I picked up my cup I noticed that the pattern had
been lined up on the seam of the cuff perfectly all the way around. But the amazing part was that
the checkered pattern was only about the size of a pinhead. You just don’t find that dedication to
the craft anymore. Because of her skill she was a harsh critic. When my sister and I were starting
out and would make something to show her, the first thing she did before even looking at it was
turn it inside out and we were often met with comments, in her thick Italian accent, like, “what’s
-a this Maria, this-a look-a like patchwork.” But I have gotten an amazing education at the Academy
and I no longer think that I am still making patchwork. I’m sure she would be proud.