Home' Z!nk Magazine : March 2013 Contents THE METEORIC RISE OF
D esigner Mathieu Mirano has shown two successful
collections at New York Fashion Week since
launching in 2011. At the delicate age of 21, he is
building his empire from scratch.
Dressed head to toe in an all-neutral uniform, I
find him perched on the steps of the American Museum of
Natural History facing Central Park West. We are meeting
here because it is his breeding ground---it is where he finds
most of his inspiration. We cruise through door security as
Mathieu flashes entrance passes and a sheepish, almost
nervous grin. "I've got a membership here," he tells me. "I
practically live here."
As we snake through various gallery corridors,
rapid-fire dialogue ensues about dinosaurs. "I think they're
so beautiful and wish we had them today. They were like
the cave man equivalent of a ferocious lion -- kings in
the jungle," he continues. The topic quickly changes to
research, "It's integral to my work. You have to know what
you are talking about before you just make something."
Mathieu slaps a giant slab of roughly-textured rock
on display, as if to mark a checkpoint. He expresses disgust in
how Etsy store owners will simply pluck a butterfly's wings,
put them on a string, and sell it, with little comprehension
for the butterfly's origin or cultural meaning.
"Us designers, we make clothes, yes. But that's
not the most important thing in the world. I am not a
revolution; nature is. Why mess with something in that
way when it's already perfect?" he says.
We enter a large room filled with glass cases of
glistening mineral rocks and meteors in every shape, size,
and shade. Voiceovers bounce off the carpet-covered walls.
We take a seat on a small, round staircase in the room's
center. It's Mathieu's favorite room in the entire museum.
"My last two collections have been quite
earthbound, for this one, we're thinking, let's take it to
space," he says.
His fascination with nature is only a testament to
his lifelong fascination with Animal Planet, world travel,
and humanism. He comes from a large family of scientists
and creative types. "My grandmother is a historian, but
she's also the most amazing pianist. She'll bust out some
serious sonatas from nowhere and it's awesome," Mathieu
says with a laugh, "My cousins and I somehow inherited
this creativity gene from my grandmother."
050 STYLE FUSION
His mother is a quilter, which is how he started
experimenting with sewing and patternmaking. Naturally,
his grandmother encouraged him to play classical music,
which he picked up at age six. His family instilled in
him a wanderlust and sense of exploration that lends
itself heavily to his designs. "I was told growing up, 'you
have to get out of your bubble. You're very lucky, so it's
important for you to know how other people live around
Mathieu had only launched his first collection last
year, after a stint at Parsons The New School for Design.
Six months into his studies, he had an epiphany. He and his
fellow students were often told by instructors that only a
few of them would ultimately be able to weather the easy
come, easy go attitude of the fashion industry.
"I remember leaving a drawing class one day
and dropping my stuff in the street, and calling my mom
crying, 'I just can't do this anymore.'" Moments like that
are common enough in New York to discourage people
from standing the heat. Not Mathieu, not ever. He quickly
assembled a two-person team, just a co-designer and an
assistant. The three of them, when conceptualizing their
next designs, do all the research, photo shoot production,
model casting, and garment construction in-house---with
not a mood board in sight.
"If anything, my mood board is my experiences.
It's all in my head, and things just come to me, and I go to
my team, and we go from there." Mathieu says.
But believe it or not, Mathieu says he is often
calm about his job --- and his rising status. A call from
a writer at Women's Wear Daily made him realize what
most rising stars eventually come to grips with: This is
happening, and it's happening to me. Mathieu describes a
time he almost made a custom dress for Lady Gaga at this
year's Paris fragrance launch for Fame, and a time Nicole
Richie attended his fall show and wore a dress of his days
later. That's enough to make any young designer's ego
skyrocket, but Mathieu remains humble.
"I believe in the art of fashion," he says. "The
attention, the notoriety can be nice, but it's only secondary
to helping people feel beautiful by sharing things I find
beautiful in the world. It took me so long to even realize
that what I'm doing is 'cool.' I still don't think it's cool,
because I love what I do so much."
ONE YOUNG DESIGNER'S TAKE ON FASHION AND NATURAL HISTORY
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