Allow me to introduce you to one of Dallas’ hottest designers that I have had the recent pleasure to meet and interview during The Weekender, a luxury shopping and social event held at The W Hotel. Meet Isabel Varela, who was named one of the five designers to watch by D Magazine this year. Her exclusive fashion resume includes being a semi-finalist on Project Runway Season 8, runner-up in the prestigious Texas’ Next Top Designer and a finalist in the national reality television show, Fashion Star. This year, she returned to her own label and was honored at the Fairmont Dallas’ inaugural Artist-In-Residence with a three month grant from The Pin Show.
As we sat down in the interactive designer suite that allowed exclusive opportunities to engage with top-class fashion designers, including live modeling and mini expert seminars, we were surrounded by her latest creations hanging nearby on racks and adorned on mannequins. Right away, I could tell that I was embarking upon a designer chat with someone who is obviously very passionate about her creative gift of fashion design, as she was dressed in one of her head turning designs.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
A: It is absolutely the love of my life. Although, when one thinks of fashion, it is normally associated with beauty, being sexy, or as an art form, yet besides all of this, I just really want to help others. I was always inspired by my grandmother who helped orphans, so I decided to donate a percentage of my sales to my foundation TITA, which its name translation means advancement.
Q: How would you define your city’s fashion?
A: Wow, Dallas is a mixture of sexy, sophisticated, influential and trendy.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to become a fashion designer?
A: (laugh) Actually, when I came out of the womb. I was always attracted to clothing, and my mother loved clothing, so I guess it is in my genes. I remember as a child attending swimming parties and being the only person there in a dress, matched with the fru-fru socks.
Q: What is your favorite part of conceptualizing a design?
A: The story line which includes the color, researching images and photos to create the design, as it’s during this process that I actually began to see the finished outfit.
Q: Define the style your clothing line exemplifies.
A: A strong, sophisticated and sexy woman who loves to stand out from the crowd. I love to be able to take her from her day at the office, to dinner or another less business oriented event afterwards.
Q: What are your favorite prints and fabrics to work with, and why?
A: I design my own prints which comes from pictures I have taken with my camera, and utilizing Adobe Illustrator. (she stops to show me a picture in her camera of a fig from a recent dining experience and a road map, both inspirations for her next line debuting in the spring) My current line was inspired by chipped paint on shutter panels. I love working with leather and wools, because they are easy to shape and mold, and silk because it flows and lays very well on the body.
Q: What are your favorite clothing stores and websites?
A: I love Dolly Python, Uniqla, and my fave websites are Top Shop and Luisa Via Roma, which is like a European net-a-porter.
Later that evening, Isabel provided tips on understanding clothing quality and value so fashion lovers won’t become fashion victims. Following her presentation, “A Shopaholic’s Guide to Value,” guests were custom-measured and purchased her IZAVEL Autumn/Winter 2012 collection before it hits stores.
Isabel Varela, one to watch and to keep watching — she has only just begun, so stay tuned!