Pattern intern and Indiana University student Cierra McNeal talked to us about her current line and her upcoming showcase at Raw Indy on July 30. You can also check out Cierra’s line this Saturday, July 19 IBE’s “Fashion Here & Now” Fashion Show.
What sparked your interest in designing clothes?
Cierra McNeal: Design is just something I fell into in high school when I took a couple of sewing classes. From there I just ran with it. It was a way for me to express myself, do something different, and be creative.
How would you describe your personal style?
CM: My personal style is a little different than my design style. I prefer clothes that are laid back, comfortable and vintage but also have an edge. If something looks different and stands out to me, then I’ll wear it. I think it’s cool and kind of fun to wear pieces that many people find unfashionable. When it comes to my designs, they are more fashion forward and futuristic.
Where do you find inspiration?
CM: My main sources of inspiration are music, fabric, and movies. I can see a fabric or a movie and get inspired, but mostly I’m inspired by music. Often if I am feeling a song I’ll put it on repeat and design.
Are there any designers you admire?
CM: Anyone who knows me personally knows my love and admiration for designer Rick Owens. I really appreciate his design style, mood, and execution. He pushes the limits of the design industry with every collection and every runway show. I’m also a fan of Rei Kawakubo who is the founder of Comme des Garçons. I admire the shape, foundation and artistry of Comme des Garçons pieces. Every collection is so out of this world.
What was your inspiration for your latest line?
CM: The inspiration for my latest completed line, Cocaine Castle, was inspired by an A$AP Ferg song titled Cocaine Castle. It worked out perfectly because I was really wanting to do a full white/tan collection and that song really helped me crank out the designs. I’m also working on a collection now Dementor’s Kiss, that I will be showing at the end of this month and is inspired by the Dementors in the Harry Potter movies.
How did you choose the materials you used?
CM: Sometimes I feel like the materials choose me. I choose to work with whatever stands out to me and compliments what I designed. I do choose to work with a lot of knits, because they are comfortable and lay nicely.
Describe your creative process.
CM: My creative process changes a little every time depending on the source of inspiration. In general, I design something, find the fabric, make the patterns, make mock-ups, do fittings and then make the final product. My designs tend to change a lot during the make the pattern stage because often I think of something different or interesting to add.
What would you say is the most difficult part of the design process?
CM: The most difficult part of the design process for me is all of the steps between designing and making the final product. I have an idea and I get so anxious to get to the end to see how it turns out. For me, perfecting a pattern to ensure the fit is right is very important, yet it is tedious and can take a while.
Which part of the process is your favorite?
CM: My favorite part of the process is a tie between designing the original line and completing the final product. I get excited once I design something because I think it will be pretty dope if it comes out right. Then again, it’s always an awesome feeling to complete something and get to see how people react to it in the end.
Where do you see yourself in the upcoming years?
CM: In a few years I see myself managing my own brand, working under a designer/ design house I admire, or volunteering with the Peace Corps.
Do you have any advice for those are considering apparel design?
CM: My advice for anyone is perusing apparel design is ultimately to stay true to you. Don’t worry about what is trending or the dos and don’ts of fashion. Take risks and at the end of the day remember you are the designer, it’s your vision and nobody can change that.
Photos courtesy of Brian Grissom and Brandon Shepard.