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Fashion Graduate Profile: Marie Potesta

Marie Potesta, 2008 Fashion and Knitwear Design Graduate

Marie 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, Surface magazine, Zink magazine, 7x7 magazine, 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 approach.

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.


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