Still a student at West Valley College, Erandeny Torres Israde, an up-and-coming fashion designer, is already quite accomplished. That is thanks to her self-realization and recognition of her creative talents as a child. Even as a twelve-year-old girl making Barbie clothes out of play-dough for her dolls, Erandeny already knew what her true calling was going to be in life and decided to follow her heart and her creative streak. As an adult, she has continued to pursue her passion in the creative arts and fashion design industry. And while Erandeny has been attending college, working with a bay area designer, and taking care of her son, her most recent achievement has been participating in The Art to Wear competition produced by the American Red Cross for their Heroes Celebration. Out of 100 competing entries from all over the country and from 11 finalists, Erandeny was runner up and also won the popular vote, which was voted on by more than 500 people.
Helium Magazine’s Sophia M. Papadopoulos sat down with Erandeny at the rooftop wine terrace Cielo in Hotel Valencia at Santana Row for an interview.
Helium: What does fashion mean to you?
Erandeny Torres Israde: To me fashion is a way of expression. It’s just something that you have inside of you that you can’t keep in. You get ideas and inspiration from different things and it just translates into a garment or a color, a print or a pattern; it’s just in your head bugging you until you actually sketch it and then make it. It’s really nice to see something that just starts from anything, like architecture, and then it becomes something that you can wear.
H: How/where did your interest in fashion arise from?
ETI: I’ve always had an interest in art and color. I’ve been drawing since I was little. My grandmother, she draws and paints and she’s really talented. My mom and my dad like to draw too, so I guess it got passed down from generation to generation. When I was little I remember making clothes for my Barbie dolls made out of play-dough. So I was always creative and would always like to draw. I also do makeup. Since I was little I would like to see the eye-shadow pallets with all the colors; it was something beautiful to me.
ETI: My dress title is “Compassion in Action” and it’s made of jersey net; it’s a stretchy fabric. I designed it so that the model wearing it could be comfortable because she had to walk in it. And I wanted a 3 dimensional piece, so I made the faces on the dress out of cast bandages; the same thing they (doctors) use when you break your arm. It had to do with the Red Cross; they gave us a theme. So they told us to use the theme from a disaster and told us that we could use materials from the Red Cross. So I used the cast bandages and I made a papier-mâché first, for the faces, and then I put the cast over it and attached it. Now, I had to think of a way that it would work so that it wouldn’t be too heavy, that it would be comfortable, and that it would have the 3D effect that I wanted. So I made the masks separately and painted them with acrylic on the dress and on the 3D part. The bottom part is also made from the plaster, and I used gloves, thicker plastic gloves. I had to fit it to the mold. I had to do the fitting, the adjusting, and shaping of the masks so they wouldn’t look out of place on the body. I attached them by piercing holes around the masks and then hand-sewed them on the model and on the dress. The train has three layers made out of a veil-like material. The whole dress is white, and the acrylic paint and the art on it are different shades of gray.
H: What inspired you to make this design?
ETI: The theme for the wearable art contest was “being prepared for disaster,” so I was looking for inspiration to start my piece on the internet when I came across two pictures that where my inspiration.
The first one was the image of two men helping to carry a woman away from a collapsed building when the earthquake in Haiti had just happened. The debris and dust covering their hair and faces as strangers help each other…to me that represents unity in the midst of chaos and that is represented in the top front portion of my dress.
The second picture was of a rescue worker that days after the quake, when people where starting to lose hope of finding survivors, found a small child and rescued him from a collapsed building. Fatigued from the search but with a big smile on his face, he held this child between his arms and the child became a symbol of hope. This is represented on the front bottom portion of my dress.
The last part of my inspiration was the repeated element of hands in the pictures: hands that helped those in need; hands comforting those in distress; hands rescuing; hands healing hands, that put compassion in action. This is represented on the back bottom part of my piece.
H: How long did it take you to make the dress?
ETI: I’ve been working on the dress between school, work, and taking care of my son. I think it took about 40 hours. Now, the sewing part did not take too long, it was more the masks because it was a whole process in making the papier-mâché and putting the plaster on top and waiting for it to dry; sanding it, preparing it, painting over it and fitting it to the model – readjusting, all that took longer.
H: What does your piece represent?
ETI: Compassion in action. Again, the inspiration came from those two photographs.
H: What collection pieces are you showing at the West Valley College Revival Fashion Show (WVCRFS)?
ETI: I’m putting out a line, I believe it’s about six dresses. They (dresses) are draped. I didn’t have a theme that I began with for this line. Usually I’ll have a theme-board where I’ll place images or something that inspires me on it, but this time I started out with the fabrics. I like the contrast of a really bright yellow with black, and the texture of the fabric I used was really crisp. I started draping and letting the fabric do what it wanted to do and then I went from there. I was just playing around with the fabrics on the manikin and with the different dress designs. I incorporate a fan-type look, different fans and a different translation of the fan in one specific dress.
H: Who are your favorite designers and why?
ETI: I don’t have any favorites. I like to see what other designers are doing through their creative process and what they have pondering in their minds. They can have something that grabs my attention; it can be something simple or something really complicated, but I don’t have a specific favorite. It may be a certain garment that I like out of their collection, a certain style, or the way they interpret something.
H: How would you describe your fashion style?
ETI: It can arise from anything. I could be observing a flower and I start thinking, “how can this be translated into a garment?” or maybe the color, or the texture of it. I remember one time in school we had a project where we were supposed to use a vegetable or a fruit, and we had to interpret it. I chose an avocado. It was challenging, but I sliced it and photographed the different slices, and I came up with a dress where the slices were the bottom of the dress like a mermaid dress. And the texture, I found the perfect fabric and the colors – the rough texture of the outside, it was like a leathery material, and the bottom of the dress was satin and the color green was like that of the inside of the avocado. My designs vary. They would be for people who are not afraid of being different – they can step back from the classic look – they like something that is somewhat artistic and different, and that they would not be afraid to make a statement with it. My designs are for those who are more daring in their fashion tastes.
H: Who do you see wearing your designs and what demographic do you cater to?
ETI: I guess it’s more of an attitude. I can’t put it in an age group – it’s more of a personality. My designs are for people who want to be unique and who are not scared of wearing something different. My designs can come from inspiration from past decades or something futuristic. They are for people who are not afraid of wearing something different and being different.
H: What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of fashion design?
ETI: Just being able to express myself, just letting my imagination go, and have something that’s like a dream and the whole process of seeing it come to something real; something tangible. You start out thinking, “oh, I wonder if I can do this,” and then my mind starts going. It’s something really fun and relaxing at the same time. It’s exciting to see something and then start thinking of a concept – you know it’s possible, from something that’s just a thought and then it becomes something real.
H: What is the most difficult aspect of fashion design?
ETI: I enjoy it (fashion design). Everything about it is just fun to me. It’s not difficult for me.
H: What advice would you give students who are aspiring to become fashion designers themselves?
ETI: It’s true that you reap what you sew, so just be yourself and know yourself and know that you don’t have to be whatever people want you to be. Or if they tell you that your designs don’t work, maybe that’s your style and that’s your essence, so just know who you are and know what you like and keep doing what you want to do. And if you work hard and you are persistent, your hard work will pay off. Do what you like and what’s really in your heart without letting yourself get influenced by things that are not really you.
H: What is your ultimate career goal in relation to fashion/fashion design?
ETI: As long as I can keep working on something that I love to do, it can be anything, as long as it has to do with being creative, using creativity, or being in a creative outlet. I would also like to put out a line. I do makeup as well, so it can be anything having to do with using a creative process.
Interview by Sophia M. Papadopoulos
Photos courtesy of Erandeny Torres Israde