Meet Miss Liza: HB Employee, Designer, and Alternative Fashion Enthusiast
Heart of Haute is proud to offer an array of clothing that anyone can add to their wardrobe, however we are often associated with the Rockabilly and Pin-up subcultures. What many of you may not know, is that we are also happy to cater to those that might have a taste for more alternative clothing. Riveting Gallantry features garments designed with a different aesthetic, but made with the same quality fabrics and attention to detail as your favorite Heart of Haute dresses. Designed by our very own Liza Aravelo, whom I have the pleasure of working with here at Heart of Haute Headquarters, shares her experience working in the fashion industry, her inspiration for Riveting Gallantry and exploring new subcultures. What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion? Honestly, I wasn't that sure about it. I've liked it since high school. It was probably my sophomore or junior year. I was in art class and we were starting to draw people. Our teacher gave us the creative liberty to go where we wanted with it, so – I don't know why, maybe it was because I was just starting to get into anime – I would draw the model in front of us, but then I would change their outfit into something more fantasy/sci-fi. When I started high school, I wanted to be an animator and it was through that class that I took that very seriously, but my teacher pointed out that my artistic skills lay more into creating costumes than actually learning the fundamentals of drawing. [Our school] had just started offering a fashion ROP class, [my teacher] suggested I take it, and I did. Was it like a lightbulb moment where everything tied in together? Actually, not at all. . . but it made me realize how much fun I had doing it. Fast forward, I didn't get to do that at first, right out of high school. It took some time. I went back and forth with what I wanted to do with my life. One of my high school teachers told me about this anime called “Paradise Kiss,” and she told me that I HAD to watch it. So, I watched it, and it was [about] a private school in Japan, like high school, but an artistic high school, and they had a fashion program. It followed this group of kids and their struggle to find themselves and to be artists. The main character was sort of like me. He was really passionate and really talented, but everyone kind kept telling him, “This is probably not the best thing for you,” “It's really hard,” “You're gonna struggle, you should probably go with something more stable.” He went ahead and did it anyway. I don't know, maybe it was because I was young, but I thought to myself, “Well, hey, if this character can do it, then I can do it.” It's literally that anime that continues to inspire me. Whenever I doubt myself, I re-watch the whole series and I have renewed vigor to keep going. That's really awesome! Going off of that, do you find that a lot of your work, and not necessarily just for Riveting Gallantry, is influenced by that particular anime in some way or another? No, not at all, actually. The anime was all about runway and haute couture. So it's just more for your motivation? Yeah! For our Fans that don't know, you cut samples and grade patterns for Heart of Haute. What does your job entail? So for our customers, they understand that everything from us is made to order. Basically, when the order comes it, it gets put onto a “cut sheet.” The cut sheet comes to me, and I hand cut each order, one by one. Grading patterns means that I take a base size, which for us is a medium, and I then create individual patterns for all the other sizes from XS to 2XL. What do you find the most challenging? Well, pattern making, in general, is a very detail-oriented type of work. It's kind of stressful because even though there's sort of a formula that you follow, it never ends up working perfectly, so it's a lot of creative problem solving. Because it's so detail-oriented, sometimes it can get really frustrating. For most designers, when you draw things, you have an understanding of the physical capabilities of fabric and sewing. To get a sketch and turn it into a pattern, there's obviously going to be some variance of where exactly a line should fall. Some Heart of Haute Honeys may not know about the Riveting Gallantry line. Can you describe its aesthetic? How would you introduce the line to someone who may not be familiar with alternative sub-cultures and clothing? Riveting Gallantry started out as being intended to kind of follow the steampunk trend. I wanted to tone it down a little bit, so I went with more of a classic, more goth-type alternative aesthetic, not necessarily in the fabric choices but in the styles. It's definitely reminiscent of neo-victorian [fashion.] Do you think it still incorporates the steampunk aesthetic? The silhouettes definitely do, the fabric does not. I felt like if we went with a steampunk line, it was too narrow. Neo-Victorian and the Gothic aesthetic have so many branches, that with a few modifications, it could easily fit into many sub-genres. What about the lolita influence on the line, if there is any? I intended it to sort of be incorporated into lolita [fashion], but the more that I spend time as a lolita myself... [lolita] doesn't really leave a lot of room for indie brands. It's the sort of thing where it's sort of like, “It's Japanese or it's not.” What was your inspiration for the Riveting Gallantry line and how have your other interests influenced your designs? All of my designs have been influenced by my selfish desire for people to dress better, haha! I don't know, ever since high school, I've always had a quirky sense of style. Growing up, and learning about different subcultures and how they just keep exploding and every year something new pops up. Loving anime so much, it's always been my dream to have a “fantasy closet” and for EVERYBODY to have a fantasy closet. Part of my inspiration for Riveting Gallantry was so that people could wake up and say, “You know what? I feel like a pirate today, so I'll wear this dress.” Or, “I want to feel like a princess, I'll wear this skirt and this really cute top.” Everything I love kind of gets jumbled together into this idea. Is there a story behind the name “Riveting Gallantry”? When we first started [this line,] it was intended to be a steampunk line, and I didn't want to use anything really generic – anything that had to do with clockwork or something like that – the whole point of steampunk is it's literally an industrial, Victorian aesthetic. I wanted to incorporate the hardware [aspect]. “Riveting” is a term used for striking type fashion, and it's also, obviously, rivets are metal pieces, or metal studs so I started with that. As I started designing for the collection, my main inspiration was actually pirates, so I wanted to also incorporate that. It's sort of the biggest sub-culture I have an appreciation for, which still follows along the Victorian line and aesthetic, so I chose “gallantry” which is a term referring to “beautiful ships.” Well, “gallant” is the term. Is there a particular piece from Riveting Gallantry that is your favorite? The Aldonza Dress is definitely my favorite, because it's a pretty pirate dress. Is there a particular piece from Riveting Gallantry that you would recommend for any Fans who might be curious about alternative clothing? Honestly, I don't think you could go wrong with the Wench Skirt. It's a pretty standard silhouette for any type of fashion, really. It's the most versatile, even outside of the Gothic aesthetic. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in fashion? My advice, which isn't necessarily specific for people in fashion. It's for people you want to pursue something that isn't “the norm” and they feel that they don't have a lot of support. [My advice] is to really think about how much you want it, and how bad you're willing to fight for it. Fashion is by no means an easy thing to learn. There are various sides. On the one side, it requires you to be extremely creative ALL THE TIME. It's really taxing and it gets really hard sometimes. Or it requires you to be extremely perceptive. You have fashion designers who are extremely creative, and they're the ones that create fashion, they create movements and sub-cultures. Then you have, people who can say, “You know what, I know this is going to be hot, we can start this.” Don't get me wrong, those people can make money, but you have to understand what it is you want to do to get it. What advice would you give to someone who is curious about exploring different subcultures? For me, everything came from me looking at something and then searching for it. All of the things I've come across, I've never found someone to tell them, “Oh, you're into this? That's cool! Tell me about it.” So if you don't have that person that's going to explain it to you, and bring you into the fashion culture with them, then honestly you need to educate yourself. Thank to the internet, there's a wealth of knowledge out there. Every culture has its rules, taboos, and faux pas, so you really need to educate yourself. When you decide to ease into [a subculture] or dive head first, make sure you're doing it the right way because once you affiliate yourself with that culture, you are representing them. You don't want to misrepresent them. If there's something that you really like, definitely have fun with it, but don't necessarily try to affiliate yourself with that group. Don't let the culture stop you from doing what you want, but be respectful in the way you do it. Facebook is sort of the bridge now to join all of these groups. I'm still just getting into Steampunk, so I joined all these communities, and I frequently ask them, “Is this OK?” It's not that I'm asking for permission, but someone who's seasoned in the community, then can let me know, “Well, that's not usually something you would work, but maybe play with around with it a little and see what you can turn it into.” You get plenty of advice. All communities want to grow. Obviously no sub-culture wants to become “the masses” that's the whole point of being a sub-culture, but for the most part they're really welcoming. Especially if you're really willing to do it right, they're more than happy to help you. That's something that a lot of people don't realize, that it IS a culture. Yes! It's one thing to buy a Lolita dress because you think it's pretty, but it's another thing to call yourself a Lolita. It's something that I don't think should be taken too seriously, but you have to understand that for some people it's a lifestyle. I wear Lolita – at least casual Lolita – on a fairly regular basis, and for people to come up to me and say, “Oh, why are you in this costume?” It's pretty annoying. Just because I don't dress like you means I'm in a costume? This is an outfit. But then, as somebody who is in a culture, you can always tell who is a first timer. Instead of ostracizing them, you should take them aside and say, “Good effort, but let me give you some advice.” Which is, again, why you should educate yourself first. Especially because these type of sub-cultures are a lot of DIY. That's another thing I wanted to do with Riveting Gallantry. I wanted to create, not over-stylized pieces, but the basics, where you could modify them to fit into [the sub-culture.] I don't want to pigeon-hole the line. So, what's your favorite Heart of Haute dress? It's not really my aesthetic, but I like the Beverly Dress. The Hillary Dress in the Chambray Anchor is my favorite, because of the colors. There's something about this print that just fits more with my lifestyle. Do you think there are styles that Heart of Haute offers that could potentially be used for other sub-cultures? I use the Beverly [Dress] a lot for Lolita, but I've cut it a little shorter for my style. The Twirl Skirt is sort of a basic, especially since we offer it in so many prints. I would use a Twirl Skirt for some of my Lolita outfits. The Monte Carlo Dress, I think, is a really versatile dress. There are a lot of possibilities with that dress.
Twirl Skirt in Black Mystique (left,) Monte Carlo Dress in RedWhile I may not have ventured as far into the world of subcultures, I do love pretty dresses (and skirts!) and I'm excited to see what's to come from Liza and Riveting Gallantry in the future. In the meantime, you can check out the line on our website. With Love & No Regrets, Katrina Marie