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Interview With the Designer

Holly Renee Interview,

Fashion Designer of Shenova www.shenovafashion.com


I  grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and spent many of my kid days drawing, and playing in my tree house in the woods. My early influences naturally came from my family.  My Dad was often dressed in neon workout colors because he was very into running and being visible on the street.  My Mom loved to wear mixed prints and also has a fun sense of color and liked expressionist style. We had an interesting mix of both right and left brain intelligence in my family. My father is a steel business owner, music lover,  fisherman,  and my mom is a molecular biologist with a love for sci-fi novels and keen artistic eye. My brother  was kind of a computer prodigy and taught me Photoshop when I was young. I was always fascinated with computer generated imagery. I remember getting our first color printer and that feeling of seeing something created out of virtually nothing. It amazed me.

Later in my teens I got into the rave scene. Pittsburgh was a perfect place for this because of all the old industrial warehouses  spaces. My style really exploded during this time because I got to be totally wild with my designs, the wilder the better.  Eventually I craved a different environment and went to study fashion design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.  Moving to SF was the best decision  I ever made because I feel like it has made me into a more well rounded person. I also got really into the whole alternative medicine scene and even studied Nutrition, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology for several years.  I love how this has fueled my design and created a natural balance to my earlier techno industrial style.  I look forward to seeing what comes next for me in my life and how it will filter into my design.

When did you know you wanted to be in the fashion industry?

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a designer. I had an obsession with clothing and fashion since I was very young.  I even had a bunch of different fictional names for my clothing lines.  I used to sit in class and draw designs instead of focusing on the lessons.

·         Are you a Couture designer or RTW? 


I design RTW but also do some Couture pieces occasionally.


·         What does fashion mean to you?


Fashion  to me is the ultimate means of expressing oneself and who you view yourself to be in the world. I like to think we are all actors in a grand theater play called Life, and what we wear is our costume for the characters we play.  If we were to view each scene of life as a canvas, we can add beauty to our everyday painting by dressing in an appealing way. I believe dressing oneself is an art. It also shows how much self-respect you have. I love how certain types of clothes make us feel subtle differences from the inside out: changes our posture, makes us want to move more freely, walk or talk  differently, or feel more confident.  I would like to help people find themselves through my designs.


·         What is your inspiration and process ?


Like most artists, my inspirations come from everywhere.  For me I tend to gravitate towards science, philosophy  and technology themes.  I get very inspired by esoteric subjects and contrasting elements.  Often times I get a rush of a feeling or emotion,  or meet someone who moves me, and it buzzes me internally. I can even get a physical sensation like a tingling in my head-  this tells me to keep moving in this direction. And without fail, if I follow  this feeling, it takes me to a very creative place.  I like to stay well in touch with my intuition,  trust it, feel the flow and design from this visceral place.  I feel like thinking too much about a design ruins it, so I try to just feel design more than think.



·         Is there a theme or message in your clothing?


A big underlying theme in my design that is also my philosophy in life is finding balance--balance between nature and technology. I feel like we are in a great transition period in human society at the moment. We are more connected than ever, yet more isolated than ever. We need to get back into connection to our spirit and the earth, yet not shun technology- just be able to embrace it, have fun, and use it to our advantage.


·         What makes your clothing/accessories unique?


The main feedback I get from people about my clothing is that it is unique. I strive to create things at least that I've personally not seen before, because newness excites me.  My clothes are not for shrinking violets, they tend to be bold and are for people who like to be noticed.


·         Your target demographic?


Girls and Women 18-45.  I am also working on a Mens' T shirt line,  coming soon.


·         Where can readers buy your clothing?


They can visit my website  www.shenovafashion.com



·         What are the materials you work with?


My favorite materials are  currently lycra,  bamboo and organic cotton. I like to mix athletic performance materials with natural or organics.  I find this to be a nice balance of matching good lasting performance with eco friendliness.  The main importance to me is that the fabric feels smooth against the skin, so I love soft materials.


·         Colors, patterns, hardware, etc.

My favorite colors and black and pink. I tend to be obsessed with repeating patterns, especially the sky and starry nights. I think this might mirror  the fact that I value pattern recognition  in life as well.


·         What is your favorite piece/item you have ever done?


Usually my favorite piece is the last piece that I made. But if I were to view it all as a whole, I would have to say the "Origins of the Universe Gown".  Between the combination of these colors, the epic images of the nebulas in the sky, with the yin yang print, the cut of the dress--it is everything that I feel I am as a designer into one piece. I want to create wondrous  beauty that also has meaning, tells a story, is even educational, and makes the wearer feel vibrant and gorgeous.


·         Quote that defines you in the business or personally.


" Leonardo DaVinci's insatiable curiosity  was why he was so creative."   This is something I came up with. But I feel it is true, if you look at  his notebooks,  and you can see how he views the world with children's' eyes:  he looks at everything with an innocent sense of wonder and discovery. I like to think this is a valuable trait to try to hold on to. Never let yourself become blind because there is beauty everywhere just waiting to be discovered and inspire you.


·         What is your favorite fashion season?


I do love coats. So if I were to pick one, it would be Winter.


·         How do you feel the recession has affected the fashion industry, if it has at all?


I think some consumers are looking for something that will last and that is special, even though it might cost more.  And others are looking to buy things more cheaply at second hand stores.  Overall, I feel the consumer is looking for value and not necessarily going for fast and trendy. I do definitely see a trend in more people looking for something that is unique, different and will make them stand out, because they are tired of the same old fashion.


·         What trend could you do without this year/season?


I've never been a huge fan of really large baggy shirts. I think that are really unflattering to a woman's body. But I see it everywhere.  Though I understand how comfortable this kind of look can be!


·         What trend do you love this year/season?


I am seeing more space, science and technology themes trickling into mainstream.  This makes me very excited.


·         Most loved designer/brand?


Without a doubt I would say Jean Paul Gaultier is my absolute favorite designer. He has an incredible genius for designing for a woman's body. I am so lucky I got to see him and get his autograph this past year at his talk at the De Young Museum. I also really like Nasty Gal for the sexiness,  Black Milk for their prints ( I get compared to them a lot) , Imaginary Foundation for the intelligence angle. Another old favorite of mine is Cyberdog in London, their designs are out of this world creative and techno fabulous.


·         What is your most beloved fashion item (accessory, shoes, clothing)?


I love a black  stretch bodycon dress with leggings and a stylish coat or bolero. When I get dressed, like to feel swift. Because I tend to walk fast,  I don't like having fabric hanging off of me or clothes that are baggy and loose.



·          How you would you define your city's fashion?


The San Francisco Bay Area fashion is very eclectic since  it is a real culturally diverse city.  If I were to describe the types of looks I see a lot are: vintage inspired, ethnic looks,  Burning man inspired, casual athletic/performance wear, artsy/bohemian,  and of course a lot of classic sophisticated looks.  I absolutely love this city and it inspires me so much every day. I really like how accepting everyone is of each other, and how nurturing a place it is for creative people. You can wear whatever you want and no one will judge you!



·         What is the most memorable/favorite moment in your fashion career/history?


That would have to be San Francisco Fashion Week this September. It was my first big opportunity to show my collection.  I got great feedback from it and it was definitely a real peak experience. I met so many inspiring people and made lots of great connections