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Interview With Deborah Of Silvae

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How did you get into fashion design?

I've always loved fashion, but it wasn't until my early twenties that I decided to pursue it as a career. I was doing an International Studies program at the University of Washington, and got the opportunity to spend the summer in Italy with an Italian language immersion program. It was my first time in Europe, and I spent a lot of time exploring the local towns, museums and thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life. I also spent a lot of time shopping. Not necessarily buying, but really appreciating the construction and design of the clothes. This is something that I've always done, but it wasn't until I was in Italy that I realized I wanted to pursue it as a career. Soon after college I enrolled in an intensive apparel design program in Seattle and everything clicked.

What was your style like as a teen?

I did the Seattle grunge thing in my early teen years, exploring local thrift stores to find the perfect oversized flannel shirt or worn in Levis. In high school I veered a bit more preppy, and would drag my mom to the mall for hours for back to school shopping. It's funny looking back on it now, because I had to go to all the stores several times to see everything before I bought a couple new pieces. My mom was such a good sport about it!  I did a bit of sewing in my teen years too. The first piece I ever made was a short corduroy wrap skirt, and then I played around with deconstruction like turning a pair of jeans into a skirt..so very nineties!

What are you found wearing most?

I just got a pair of Chimala wide leg jeans that I'm loving right now. I like to wear them with a Raquel Allegra tee, or to dress them up I'll wear it with the Silvae Orchis Blouse in the Black & White floral print that I developed with my friend and artist Olivia Knapp. Olivia and I met at Eddie Bauer when I was working as an assistant designer and she was on the CAD team.  One day on the bus she showed me these amazing pen and ink drawings she had started developing using a cross hatch technique that echoed back to the line engravings of the 16th & 17th centuries. They would often feature the head and the heart in a sort of dialogue exploring desire, reason and circumstance that were both surreal and whimsical. I remember thinking that her drawing technique would look amazing on fabric, and when I launched my line in 2013 I called her up to see if she'd want to collaborate.  We've worked together on the prints ever since and the new print for Spring 15 features one of her first pieces called "Inscaping," which was a word she made up combining introspection + landscaping. We colored it up in light pastels and it reads like an allover botanical print, with leaves, flora and the unexpected heart, hands and brain.

What’s your favorite style you’ve made and love to wear?

The Brassia pleated skirt with the Calla twist crop in black has been my go to look this summer when I want to look chic with just a bit of edge. The pleated skirt is really easy and will be a great piece to transition into fall, while the Calla twist crop shows just enough stomach to play with the crop top trend while being distinctive. The twist, like a lot of my inspiration comes from shapes found in nature and the pacific northwest. It is created by the shape of the facing on the inside of the garment, which is a technique I discovered in the Japanese series Pattern Magic that explores sculptural clothes and a more creative approach to pattern making.

What’s the best thing you ate last week?

My boyfriend's a chef and we had the classic 'front of house' 'back of house' romance when I was waitressing at Tilth Restaurant during design school.  Needless to say we both love food, and checking out the restaurants in Seattle. Last week we stopped by Poppy, Jerry Tranfeld's restaurant, before checking out the movie Boyhood which was playing across the street. We have access to a lot of amazing farms in Seattle, and Poppy is known for showcasing these seasonal northwest ingredients with a play on herbs and spices. They pull a lot of their herbs from the back garden which find their way into the food and cocktails like the Papi Delicious with tequila, curacao, red bell pepper, jalapenos, lime, mint. We also had their eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, and poached oysters with sorrel sauce and bacon which were oh so good!

Coffee or tea?

Coffee for sure. There are so many great Coffee roasters in Seattle..Cafe Vita, Vivace and Stumptown are some of my favs and they help to beat out the gloom during our long grey winters.  We do get a bad rap for our rain in Seattle, but I really enjoy the change of seasons here and I'm finding myself excited for fall after our long summer.  It also helps that we've been starting to get in our Fall deliveries! This collection was inspired by a trip I took with my mom down the West Coast last Fall. We were on our way to the fabric show in LA, and I was really taken with the electrical grids and wind turbines that lined the highway and how they had changed the landscape. I started thinking about that on a larger scale of how humans have impacted the surface of the earth through industrialization.  For our print we found satellite images of mines in the U.S. and put them into a kaleidoscope repeat that reads very textural and futuristic. I also played with textural wools and coated surfaces for our story of industrialized nature, and am particularly excited about this vegan leather skirt that features a variation of the jitterbug pleat.

Do you wear PJ’s to bed? if not then what?

I usually grab one of my boyfriends old t shirts! I have a couple favorites, an old Detroit tigers shirt that's worn so thin you can barely read it and then his Motown Sound shirt is another go to. For lounging around the house/working at home I've been loving these cotton rayon pants by Issey Miyake. They have this chunky cotton mesh on the bottom that brings the cool factor but are super comfortable.  If I could buy another 5 pairs I'd probably sleep in them too!

See the style below that's currently available in the shop. As well as a sneek peak of a SP 2015 print.


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