Carmen Marc Valvo has ‘royally’ dressed ladies from Queen Latifah to Princess Madeleine of Sweden. The New York designer will kick off Variety Week 2012 with the Runway Lights Fashion Show on Saturday, April 21, at The Chase Park Plaza. LN asked Valvo about his designs and his upcoming visit.
LN: What can you tell us about your appearance for the Variety Week fashion show?
CV: I can’t wait to come back to St. Louis, which is quickly becoming one of my homes away from home. I will be showing most of my fall 2012 couture collection. For the line, I looked at film noire and the phenomenal Lauren Bacall as my inspiration. I’m most excited about three dresses in particular: the three that we are making for our Variety girls.
LN: What initially drew you to become a designer?
CV: My parents wanted me to follow in their footsteps in the medical field, but after I passed out in the operating room the first time my father took me to work with him, I knew it was not the path for me. I was always into the fine arts and pursued that for a while before I discovered my love for fashion.
LN: Where do you look for inspiration?
CV: I find inspiration everywhere. My garden, art or a piece of pottery could all be the beginnings of a collection.
LN: Do you have a specific type of woman in mind when you’re designing clothes?
CV: I like to think of my female counterpart when I design: someone with a busy lifestyle with lots of charitable events on her calendar.
LN: You’ve dressed many well-known women, such as Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Katie Couric and Catherine Zeta- Jones. What challenges does that type of work present?
CV: The challenge with most of the celebrities we dress is that we do not get the chance most of the time to actually fit them ourselves. Often we just send options to them through their Q&A stylist or publicist and hope for the best. But I would prefer if I could do a proper fitting with them and make sure that everything is perfect for them.
LN: You’ve done everything from swimwear to bridal gowns—are there any similarities, or do these require a completely different mindset?
CV: When I started working on our swimwear line, I spent six months learning about swimwear construction and taking apart our gowns’ inner workings for comparison. I wanted to make sure that when one of my customers tried on a swimsuit, it felt the same as if she were putting on one of my strapless gowns. She should be completely comfortable and confident that it wasn’t going to go anywhere.
LN: How do you create gowns that are at once sophisticated and modern?
CV: It’s a constant challenge, but that’s the joy of being a designer. You must always think of the future and what ‘modern’ means, and how to translate that into fabric and embellishment.