New Designer Spotlight: Claudia Frolova, 'Silver Scissors Designer of the Year'

By Sarah Stallmann
In Style

Washington University graduate and up-and-coming designer Claudia Frolova is well on her way toward a successful design career thanks to the valuable skills of the trade taught at the local—and prestigious—Sam Fox School of Design. There, she walked away with the university’s biggest honor, the “Silver Scissors Designer of the Year” award, presented by veteran salon magnate Dominic Michael, who has been heavily involved with the annual fashion design shows for 25 years. “It seemed like a perfect symbol for the award since the fashion design students and my staff share the use of scissors to create respective shapes,” explains Michael.

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.

Photo by Jennifer Silverberg.

Frolova also snagged an additional “Honorary Designer” award gifted by Saks Fifth Avenue, where her garments remained on display in the center court of the Plaza Frontenac location.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Frolova.

Photo courtesy of Claudia Frolova.

ALIVE sat down to talk to the budding designer about her collection, her St. Louis experience and what’s next.

ALIVE: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Claudia: My design aesthetic is playful, fun, humorous yet still sophisticated. A large part of my design process is creating and designing prints. I start my search with images and objects I see everyday, whether it be a mural on a wall, a painting or even the floor of the subway. While the fabric itself is unique, I design each article of clothing to be able command a room even if it were simply in black. Each garment has to have that nuance that separates it from being like the other garments you see at the stores.

A: What was your inspiration behind your most recent collection?

C: A goal for my senior collection was to explore fabric manipulation, embellishment and a number of original prints, while my thesis collection was inspired by art and nature. A number of works of art were the initial stepping stone to the collection, including Piet Mondrian’s “Summer, Dune in Zeeland”, which is really what set the mood for the collection. I love the vibrance of the yellow and lavenders and the simplicity of the painting. From there I found other artworks to accompany the prints like an Ellsworth Kelly drawing of a castor bean, graphic tantric paintings, and some Eames drawings. I was drawn to the sort of balanced asymmetry of the works.

A: What is the best part of essentially starting your design career in St. Louis at the Sam Fox School?

C: One of the great things about Wash U’s art school is how encouraged the students are to take a variety of art classes outside of the major. One of the classes I particularly enjoyed was printmaking.  I bought a wonderful red wool and silkscreened contrasting red stripes on the sleeves. It elevated the fabric and gave it great dimension. The teachers are also wonderful and because we had such a small class—8 people—we were really able to get a lot of guidance and personal attention. I don’t think that happens at larger schools in New York City. I grew up in New York City where it was easy to walk to fabric stores but I had to come up with alternative ways to get supplies in St. Louis because I didn’t have my license or a method of transportation. That was the driving force behind designing my own prints.

A: As an up-and-comer, what do you think is next as far as the future of fashion?

C: I think using unconventional materials and machinery will start to play an even bigger role in fashion. We have already started to see it more prevalent in the past few years with laser cut garments, 3-D printing and scanning to achieve a better fit.

A: Who do you look up to in the world of fashion?

C: One of my favorite brands is Marni designed by Consuelo Castiglioni. I pretty much love everything. There is something so chic, classic and funky about her clothes, shoes and jewelry. I definitely admire how she can translate her own design aesthetic into a lifestyle.

A: What are your plans as far as your design career post graduation?

C: I just moved back to New York City, which is where I am from, and am currently looking for a job as a design assistant. In August I start an internship with Proenza Schouler.

Interviewed by Sarah Stallmann for ALIVE Magazine.

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