Fashion Week kicks off on September 5th, and the fashion calender is bursting with shows and presentations that are scheduled to take place at various locations all over Manhattan for the nine days the city will become a multi-avenue catwalk. The tents at Lincoln Center, where Mercedes Benz will sponsor ground zero of the runway shows, will be full of the fashion conglomerates, with some of the new talent in fashion in the mix. Dozens of off-site presentations will take place at showrooms, stores, clubs, private venues and studios up and downtown.
Each season the fashion frenzy reaches a higher and more intense pitch, with seats at the edge of the runways full of the elite of the fashion media, celebs and assorted poseurs and wanna be's wielding iPhones and iPads in the air. Inbound flights to NYC's major airports from foreign destinations are stocked with the biggest guns from the international press, and the city's hotels will overflow with guests, parties and private presentations. After parties will take place every night at every hot venue in the city, and the after hours streets of downtown Manhattan will be a nonstop vortex of town cars, SUVs and not enough taxis. The cobblestones of the meatpacking district will challenge the heels of Choo, Blahnik and Prada as fashionistas line up at the velvet ropes of the district's clubs, bars and boutiques where the hottest DJs will spin into the early morning hours. NYC will be in the throes of the Spring/Summer 2014 Season's official kickoff.
One of the more thrilling aspects of Fashion Week, aside from gift bags, paparazzi and all-night parties, is the opportunity to get a first look at the next generation of emerging designers. It can be exhilarating to see a daring new designer who is unafraid to push the limits of the imagination and bring something entirely new to the table. TV shows like Project Runway and initiatives like Elle Magazine's Fashion Next do a great job of supporting these fresh artists, but it is during Fashion Week these new stars really shine. One of these exciting new talents is on the calender to present her Spring/Summer 2014 collection on Wednesday from 6:00pm to 9:00pm at her boutique on Soho's West Broadway.
Pamela Gonzales is a 21 year old designer from Lima, Peru. Her store, Pamela Gonzales Soho, opened last year, and this Fashion Week will mark her second presentation of a collection in NYC. Gonzales' story is an inspiring one. Enrolled in university back in Peru, she was yearning to define herself as a fashion designer, but her father, a businessman with a practical philosophy regarding the importance of an education, insisted she focus on getting a degree in a field that would provide a firmer foundation for her future. Gonzales was studying Psychology when she fell after fainting and hit her head so seriously it required a month and a half stay in the hospital. She suffered a concussion and a hematoma and doctors were not optimistic about her recovery. Miraculously, and to her doctors' amazement, the bleeding was reabsorbed and she recovered fully. She dropped out of university and became depressed, which caused her to realize how unhappy she was to not be pursuing her dream. Her father still wanted her to follow a traditional career in business, but after her brush with death, she was even more convinced that she needed to go after what made her happy - fashion design.
Following a late night inspiration, Gonzales designed a 42 piece collection in one night. Her father, when he saw how happy her work made her, decided to fully support her dream. He hired a man who taught her about fabrics and pattern making, and formed an atelier in Lima that began with three people and eventually grew to fifty. Gonzales began to understand that fashion was not just an art, but also a business that required a knowledge of inventory, samples, vendors and employees and she now works with an administrator who helps guide her business. She believes that her Peruvian nationality is an advantage, as the country is highly regarded for its level of craftsmanship using good quality cottons and wools, particularly alpaca.
Her designs are an astonishing blend of lovely fabrics and textures, and her inspiration comes from whatever her immediate environment is. Treasures of the sea was a main source of the ideas behind her Spring/Summer 2013 collection, and the finely crafted details of the dresses and gowns are reflective of the life of the underwater world. Fall/Winter 2014 is called Heat and Ice, and the contrasts of vivid reds, blacks and shimmery silvers mixed with delicate beadwork and gemstones, supple wools and chiffon, reveal an innate understanding of how to translate an idea into a wearable garment. Gonzales says she has always been inspired by texture, and this is obvious in the details of ruched crepe, intricate hand knits, silk jersey and complex beadwork. Customers who visit her store are often shocked to see the level of craftsmanship in the garments, and even buyers at the department stores where her line is available say they have never seen anything like it.
Gonzales' venture is a family affair, and her father continues to be a strong support and experienced guide. Her sister, Romina Gonzales, is an artist with her own distinct vision, and she was commissioned to design the store. A glassblower, she worked closely with the artist Edison Osorio Zapata to create hand blown glass mannequins that hang in the windows of the store and stop pedestrians in their tracks. Their light fixtures, vases, glass clothing racks and undulating glass ceiling motifs are the perfect compliment to her sister's organic clothing designs. The store also showcases the talents of other designers, as well as supple leather handbags, and recently, the addition of fine jewelry. All this is in keeping with Gonzales' vision of fashion as an art form, and she views her boutique as more of a fashion gallery than a store.
"My dresses are like my kids." Gonzales says. "I have feelings for them. That is how you make a dress that cannot be easily copied in China. I don't want to see cheaper copies of my things. I would like people to appreciate the detail that goes into the work. It is a more personal and individual form of craftsmanship." "I take New York as a challenge, an opportunity to show the world my point of view. If you manage to make something different, you are going in the right direction."
Pamela Gonzales Soho
311 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
212 966 3113