The Raleigh design and fashion industry has really begun to take off in recent years, with many of the talented artisans and designers deciding to stick around and build their craft and business here instead of moving on to larger cities. This community is enriching our city in many ways by making us all look better (literally and figuratively) and by showcasing their designs as art for public consumption at such events as Design Spark, Art to Wear and Triangle Fashion Week. I spoke with one of these local design rock stars, Marie Cordella, and got to know a little bit more about her work and who she is.
After studying graphic design at Parsons and VCU (and some art classes at Corcoran School of Art in DC), Marie received her Masters of Industrial Design at NC State. Since then she has built an amazing business creating custom high-end dresses, clothing and handbags which have been the highlights of many Fashion Spark shows and Charleston Fashion Week as well as being named Artspace’s Regional Emerging Artist in 2008. She was also recently featured on Lifetime TV’s 24 Hour Catwalk and gives back to the design community through participating in numerous educational panels through NCSU and CAM Raleigh’s Design Camp. Not to mention the many happy Triangle area brides she has outfitted in spectacular one-of-a-kind designer wedding dresses.
I got Marie to answer a few of my questions about her work and life as a glimpse into the mind of a creative design professional.
Describe your business in one sentence.
I both create and alter amazingly tailored high-end garments.
What is the best thing about your job?
Designing patterns, creating garments that fit as if second skin, and working with fascinating women. I can honestly say that I love both the designing of the garments, and interacting with the clients equally.
What is the worst thing about your job?
The burden of paperwork is a huge assignment for a single business owner.
What is your favorite color combination (of the moment)?
Currently I’m captured with beading. I don’t gravitate towards any specific colors; but I do stay away from purple. As I have been shifting from working predominantly on my own ideas to designing garments for individual clients, I’ve practiced unsubscribing to any one color or texture.
If someone were to drop serious cash on just one great designer item for their wardrobe, what would you recommend that be?
For a female, I’d say that a black pencil-skirt is a must-have wardrobe item. For a man, either or grey or camel colored wool blazer. In either case, fit is paramount.
What is one of your favorite things about living/working/creating in the Raleigh area?
I absolutely love the personal and intimate community that we have here in Raleigh. More so intuitive than definable, I find that I am at home in Raleigh. There is such a divergent selection of people with unique interests.
What is your favorite design-related TV show?
I don’t watch television. I read daily and converse with as many accomplished design-oriented individuals as possible. Television stresses me, I would rather thrive in the physical realm.
What is your favorite design-related magazine or blog?
I stay away from almost all design publications. The ready-to-wear fashion industry thrives on copying designs from upscale designers. I prefer to be an upscale designer who generates her own ideas and inspirations.
If money and historical time were not factors, what artist’s work would you love to own?
Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Duchamp.
What is your idea of a perfect day?
Healthy food to eat, 85 degree weather, sewing and surprising myself by creating beautiful products, and attending a party with my best friends in the evening.
If you could throw a dinner party with only famous people as guests, what 4 people would you invite?
Isabel Toledo, Valentino, Gwen Stefani, and Issey Miyake.
What is always in your kitchen?
Olive oil. ALWAYS.
What is one of your favorite movies for costuming/fashion design?
Matthew Barney’s ‘Cremaster Cycle,’ hands down.
Name an album or musical artist that you could listen to on repeat while working.
Alex Clare ‘Too Close’
What quality do you most admire in others?
Confidence. I am fueled by strong people. My mom mails me newspaper articles regularly, and she recently sent me a series of articles about how intensely the people you surround yourself with impact your life. Since then, I have tried to surround myself with strong, confident, talented, loving individuals.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cheese! I am beyond lactose intolerant, and yet I love cheese so dearly.
Describe yourself in 3-5 words.
Loyal, intense, thoughtful, driven, complex.
Well, Raleigh loves Marie’s fabulous designs and I can’t wait to see what other gorgeous and innovative style and design that she will bring to the area. Follow her Marie Cordella Design Facebook page to keep up with her new designs, shows, news, and more. She has plans underway to open a high-end custom design and bridal alterations shop this coming Fall. No details yet, but follow her page for info on that as it unfolds.