Where did you grow up?
Mariam was born in Italy…her family moved to Canada when she was 4 and settled in Scarborough where she grew up and still lives.
When did you know that you wanted to study fashion?
Like me and so many of the students I have talked to, Mariam was taught to sew by her mother. She made clothes for her dolls when she was a child. It wasn’t until the first year of high school when she took a book out of the library about fashion designers that she realized that she could be a designer too. She then started taking courses at a local studio in illustration and sewing.
What have you learned at Ryerson?
Since coming to study at Ryerson Mariam said she has learned additional sewing skills and given the work load and her long commute and part-time job she has learned time management. Before coming to Ryerson she had no experience drafting patterns from scratch…she used to make changes and adjustments to commercial patterns (McCall’s, Simplicity, etc.) but now knows how to draft a complete pattern herself.
What has been your biggest challenge in the last 3 years?
Mariam has actually been at Ryerson for 4 years…last year she completed all the other 4th year courses and this year is able to focus solely on the capstone design course. She said her biggest challenge has been learning to be more practical and translate her ideas into garments that are more wearable and marketable. She also found the menswear assignment that all students are required to complete in a earlier course challenging…she explained that for her it was more difficult to be as creative with menswear as she can be with women’s wear.
What/Who inspires you?
She talked about her Mom who she described as hardworking and loving. As far as other sources of inspiration she said she is inspired by all different things including, nature, architecture, art, etc. One assignment in an earlier course was inspired by the CN Tower.
Who is your favourite designer or fashion personality?
She immediately said Madame Gres. Madame Gres was known for dresses that were created through the intricate draping of fabric. She began her career in the 1930’s and designed for over 50 years. Mariam talked about how amazed she was by Madame Gres’ work…we talked about how she was able to drape fabric with a fluidity that was unparalleled.
What advice would you give to a new fashion student at Ryerson?
Mariam had great advice for new students…1) be yourself, 2) don’t be afraid of trying new things, and 3) push yourself to experiment. She talked about her experience at the beginning and said that she regrets being too safe with some of her work. She thought maybe she was too concerned with impressing the teachers instead of impressing herself with what she was capable of…she definitely wishes she had experimented more.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
She would like to return to Italy and work and learn as much as possible maybe focusing on evening wear. Eventually she would like to have her own business.
Tell me about your collection.
Mariam’s collection is called Éroope …which means bloom or flower blossom in the Jola language, her mother’s native language (Jola is a tribe from Senegal). She started with the fabric and knew that she wanted to showcase the vibrancy of African prints particularly florals. It is a spring/summer collection of separates that will mix African prints with solid colours. I loved seeing her theme/inspiration board and the beautiful prints that she has chosen to use. So much life and colour and beauty. Can’t wait to see it finished.