Words & Photos – Justin Howard @jthnomad
Editorial – Black Chalk Magazine @blackchalkmagazine
“In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” Coco Chanel
I truly believe that one of the reasons why Leonardo da Vinci is ranked amongst the greatest artists of mankind is his knowledge of how the human body worked. To create something, you have to understand it completely. Couture fashion is no different. It is about creating a masterpiece of form and function, all while keeping to your own unique vision. Designer Michael Sta.Maria is an individual who draws from his own intimate knowledge of how the human body works from his past as a nurse, creating breathtaking pieces that transport one into a world of fantasy full of magic, heroes and fairytale princesses. Michael started down this path two years ago after suffering from a near fatal accident. It was his long bed-ridden convalescence that sparked his creative instinct. Since that time Michael has become a name in the fashion world, showcasing in places like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Los Angeles.
Fashion As Art – Designer Michael Sta.Maria
Justin Travis Howard – Did you want to become a fashion designer when you were young?
Michael Sta.Maria – Being an artist was truly my main goal in life when I was young. I can still remember when I was a little boy I loved to paint, yet I found it really interesting playing with my sister’s Barbie dolls and dressing them using handkerchiefs and such. When I was maturing, this craving for art translated into different elements of it like dancing and theatre, later on becoming a fashion designer.
JTH – What inspired you to get into fashion design?
MSM – My dreams, my weirdness, my artistry and my vision.
JTH – What’s your philosophy about the ART of fashion?
MSM – My philosophy about the art of fashion is to capture that ‘special’ feeling that you get every time you step out the doors of your home. Imagine you are walking the red carpet and paparazzi are everywhere.
JTH – What do you enjoy most about designing clothes?
MSM – I enjoy the challenge of research, the process of making a collection out of a vision, the process of delivering what’s on my mind, from the sketches to the final physical results.
JTH – As a designer what is the most challenging part of your job?
MSM – The most challenging part of my job in terms of business is always making my clients feel confident about the clothes they are wearing, making them beautiful and extra special when they wear my work. The challenge in delivering a collection is always offering something new to the world of fashion…making them want each and every piece of your work directly off the runway.
JTH – What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
MSM – I guess the most difficult part of running my own label is getting into the TOP. We all know that the fashion industry is a tough and competitive industry, so making it into the TOP and maintaining the status for me is the most difficult one.
JTH – Does your work reflect your personal fashion taste? Can you describe your style?
MSM – My work basically reflects my personality and not actually my sense of fashion. Now as I mature, I tend to have a minimalist sense of style which is in great contrast to my works; I love to make dresses with intricate detailing and a more couture touch.
JTH – What’s your favorite piece? Why?
MSM – At the moment, my favorite piece from my last fall-winter collection entitled “Prelude” is my finale dress, because it greatly depicts my aspirations of today. After all the darkness and pain I have experienced in the past I am looking forward to a very bright future, a future that is serene, successful and glittering. I just want to look back into the past and bring just the learnings I have from it. And no matter what I want to be the shining light of my own, where shadows are just shadows.
JTH – Are you influenced by any music or art movements?
MSN – Not really, I just love listening to classical music when I am in the designing process, specifically the conceptualization stage. Sometimes I love listening to noisy and cranky music if I want to tickle my creative mind. More so, I am greatly influenced by my emotions. I always make collections based on my emotions and my experiences.
JTH – How do you intend people to feel when wearing your pieces?
MSM – Simply beauty and elegance. I want my lady to feel that when she walks into the room all eyes are on her. As my brand says – “Michael Sta.Maria, bringing elegance and beauty on what you wear.”
JTH – Are there any other areas of fashion you want or have plans to get into?
MSM – I want to challenge myself in the near future to design an RTW line, more wearable pieces, basically high fashion streetwear.
JTH – What do you wish people would understand about working in the fashion industry?
MSM – That it is never easy, it really takes talent, skills, determination and hard work in order to stay in this industry.
JTH – Anything we should keep our eyes open for in the future?
MSM – One thing is for sure: I will be a globally known Filipino designer dressing Hollywood stars in the red carpet. My ultimate dream really is to have my own atelier in Los Angeles.
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