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Designer Mathieu Mirano/Image courtesy of Mathieu Mirano.

Designer Mathieu Mirano/Image courtesy of Mathieu Mirano.

Walking into the Mathieu Mirano Fall 2012 presentation at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York was an astounding, and somewhat disorienting, experience. Aware that the collection was only the sophomore outing for the young (very young!) designer, it was expected that the presentation would be a quiet, low key affair filled with fresh, but decidedly just-out-of-school designs that garnered only a handful bloggers and freelance writers in attendance. 

That expectation could not have been further from the reality. Packed to the gills with a variety of writers, bloggers, socialites, and high-profile fashion journalists, the Mirano presentation was nearly exploding out of the space in a vibrant array of deep reds, glittering golds, and lots of leather; a design point of view that felt far more mature than Mirano's mere 20 years. 

In the days that followed the presentation, more surprises unfolded as several of the industry's most venerable editorial institutions took notice of and featured Mirano within their pages; something most wait years for, and some super-talented designer’s have yet to get. Curiosity peeked by the substantial buzz surrounding Mirano, SW sat down with the designer to find out more about the man behind the fast-growing mythology.

SW: It is rumored that before becoming a designer you trained to be a classical pianist. Tell us about that transition; what prompted you to shift your artistic focus towards fashion? Is it something that you had wanted to do for a while?

MM: I had known from an early age that I was going to do something creative. Piano was my first real creative outlet and I played for more than ten years. As I started to discover new things, though, I drifted in different directions like painting, drawing, sculpture, then eventually fashion. I just simply didn't want to play piano professionally. It was a very natural transition. I can't remember the day I decided to pursue fashion. Although, I still play piano today. It will always be a part of me. 

SW: During the Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York Collections, you were one of the youngest designers to show in the tents, (maybe ever!) literally less than ½ the age of veterans like Michael Kors, or Diane Von Furstenberg both of whom also showed at Lincoln Center.  Did this fact make planning your presentation daunting at all?  What was it like to see your name on the list next to these icons? 

MM: It was exciting to be showing in the same arena as the other established designers. I didn't even know we were going to show in the tents until about a month and a half before. It was a nice Christmas present.

SW: What was the biggest ‘hiccup’ you dealt with before the show? Was there a moment when you weren’t sure it was all going to come together?

MM: I was so confident in the collection it was kind of unreal. That let me focus on how great everything was going to turn out. Although, we did have one embroidered dress that we decided to do about a week and a half before the show. We do our embroideries in India, so it had to be sent overseas, embroidered, sent back, and sewn in ten days. We were almost positive that we weren't going to get it in time, but three days before the show, we get a call from India saying it was done. However, with air travel time, it wouldn't make it for the show. So me being me, I spring into action and get a ticket to India to pick it up myself. I was beyond determined to get this dress. It was one of the most beautiful dresses of the collection, so I felt I didn't have a choice. Luckily, just before we were prepared to fly there, we get a call from India saying they can send someone from the factory to hand deliver the pieces of the dress. The only problem was that the dress arrived the morning of the show and we only had eight hours to cut, sew, fit, and deliver it. It was a close call, but we did it. It was on stage that night and looked magical!

SW: After the presentation, your collection was featured on Women’s Wear Daily, which many feel is the most influential in the industry. Did you know about the review ahead of time? If not, what was your first thought when you read the story?  

MM: I didn't know about the review. Two days after the show, I woke up and there was my name, with a picture and everything. They've always been lovely to me at WWD, even from my very first capsule collection. I infinitely appreciate their support. 

SW: Let’s talk design. It has been said that the Fall 2012 collection was inspired by your extensive travels throughout the world. What prompted you to focus on world cultures as a muse? 

 MM: While the Fall collection was not inspired by a single specific culture, traveling the world has been instrumental in my life. My family has been an amazing influence, and introduced to me to so many places from South Africa to Switzerland. It is hard to separate those experiences from my work. It is always a part of what I create. It is inseparable. What inspired the Fall 2012 collection is finding new things - almost creating a unique world itself.

SW: Of all the places you have traveled, which is your favorite? Which countries are next on your list to visit?

MM: I love Egypt. I've been three times. The atmosphere is completely different from anywhere else - it's beyond unique. For Christmas this year, my family and I are going to South Africa. There are twenty three of us, and we've travelled the world together. It's great to see these places with people you care about. We have endless stories about the trouble we've gotten into. 

SW: If you were not designing, or performing as a concert pianist, what could you imagine yourself doing as a career? 

MM: I would be in Cirque du Soleil. I so desperately wanted to join the circus as a teenager. Everyone thought I was crazy. It was something that I loved to watch and wanted to be a part of. I'm a performer at heart. I'd also love to be a comedian. I think it would be awesome to perform a comedy routine once a month or so somewhere here in the city. That's something to look forward to in the future! 

Unless noted all images: S. Whittle for Style Wylde.