This past January I had the pleasure of working with designer Franzesca Mayer for a photo shoot and runway show. Right away I fell in love with her designs which incorporated recycled bicycle tubing and sexy lingerie. Wearing her garments I felt empowered and ready to take on the world. Walking in the show at House of Blues San Diego I felt like I was part of a sexy Mad Max girl gang. I wanted to catch up with Franzesca and see what she was up to after her recent move up north.
How did you get into fashion design?
My mother taught me to sew when I was eight years old. When my body started changing, the store bought patterns weren’t fitting me properly so I started teaching myself how to alter the patterns and start draping my own garments. I graduated high school and simultaneously I lost a dear friend of mine. I turned to sewing and designing to as a means of working through my grief. I realized that sewing and designing lit a fire in me and that I wanted to keep honing my skills. At Knox College, I was lucky enough to find my mentor, Margo Shively, who taught me the ways of theatrical costume design and construction. Since graduating, I have worked at various regional theatre companies on the west coast and freelanced in the fashion world.
How did you begin using recycled inner tubing?
I met the incredible womenswear draper Kitty Muntzel during my fellowship at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2013. She had been exploring unconventional recycled materials for several years and was making inner tube costumes for a belly dancing troupe when I met her. I was so excited by what she was doing, she decided to teach me how to make my own. When she saw how much I loved creating these pieces, she gave me her stock of bicycle tubes and her blessing and I’ve been continuing my material exploration ever since. You can find Kitty’s designs at her website, http://www.backpedalcorsetry.com/
What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to your designs?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from the material itself. It tells me how it can be shaped and molded and I piece it all together. I am also very inspired by fashion history; I like to rethink historical silhouettes and line qualities in this unconventional material. I also draw inspiration from the beauty and shape of all women’s bodies and therefore I appreciate pin up and burlesque artistry as inspirational material as well. But in the end, inspiration can come from anywhere so I keep myself creatively open at all times.
What kind of modifications did you have to make because of using such a unique material?
I have mentioned that the material is already shaped so I have to be very flexible when designing. I can cut the material in different sizes but it is going to move the way it wants to move so I need to compliment that, rather than try to make it something that it doesn’t want to be.
What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to being a freelance designer?
When I’m working by myself it can be hard to keep the motivation. I make costumes for a very niche demographic so I have to explore every nook and cranny of the fashion world and interwebs to find my people.
What is your vision for your brand?
I am hoping to expand my market a bit in the realm of menswear and accessories. Overall, I want to find a balance between wearable art and everyday clothing using earth-friendly materials.
What is your definition of success?
Seeing someone shine in my garments. I want my pieces to make the wearer feel confident and sexy. There is a glow you can see when someone really feels comfortable in something you’ve made and that’s a feeling of success that can’t be duplicated.
What is your next goal for your designs?
I am about to get my first magazine spread in a new magazine called Moi Magazine, based out of New Orleans. I am hoping to continue that trend, sending out photos for publication and sending outfits out for photoshoots. A dream would be to see one of my garments on stage.
Where can my readers find more information about you?
I try to update my social media as much as possible.
Facebook: Franzesca Mayer
Thank you Franzesca for taking the time to interview with me, and I hope everyone checks out her amazing work. Check out her site, and keep up with me as I might be wearing one of her costumes in a brand new act very soon. 😉 Stay feisty loves!
Photos by Alina Mendoza Photography