The Taylor ($275) and Eva sweater ($295) from Valerie Garmino's newest collection
The Present if Female sweater ($450)
The Alessia sweater ($295) and La Vie En Rose sweater ($495)
JE Suis Comme Je Suis sweater ($395)
Dallas-based artist and designer, Valerie Garmino, launched her latest collection, La Vie en Rose, this month. The famous French song translates to “life in pink” and inspired Garmino’s main color palette of romantic rosy hues. And though the designer couldn’t draw inspiration from French sidewalk cafes or premier her line in-person at Paris Fashion Week this year, she did debut it with a bang — and with thoughtfulness. Relying on e-commerce to spread her designs, Garmino is allowing her positive outlook to trickle into her latest collection, filled with playful silhouettes, delicate feminine embroidery, and uplifting words.
What’s she most proud of with her latest work? The artisans she employs and the craftsmanship that goes into each piece. Nothing about her luxury outerwear is mass-manufactured or cookie cutter. Each piece supports female artisans to earn reliable, fair living wages, and pour their creativity and talent into the products, made with exclusive, sustainable fibers sourced from all over the globe.
For the La Vie en Rose collection, women in both Italy and Peru were employed to hand craft each statement making piece. Garmino gives PaperCity details on her latest creations, and the love and hope that went into development.
What inspired you for this collection?
Valerie Garmino: When I was developing my new collection during lockdown, I was listening to the La Vie en Rose song and I felt how this melody hugged me, comforted, and transported me to a peaceful and happy state of mind. That state of mind helped me to cope with the stress coming from COVID-19 and made me realize that we needed to find simple pleasures and moments of joy as means to overcome hard times. Those concepts became the main source of inspiration for the collection. They were translated into physical features such as the use of romantic pink tones, playful shapes and delicate details that highlight the feminine silhouette. During my specialization in the design process at the Paris American Academy, I was trained to use different art medium in order to generate ideas and concepts which not only resemble beauty but also have a voice. Prints and quotes were inspired by the urge of raising awareness of the importance of being kind to others, taking care of our planet through sustainable practices and empowering women through actions.
What is your favorite piece in this collection?
Garmino: Each of them has a special meaning to me. You are going to find that each piece has different features and finishes but with the same goal and concept, which is empowering women by making them look and feel great.
How has the pandemic impacted your brand? Any positive outcomes?
Garmino: I think that everyone is going through a reset and most of us have evaluated and been more conscious about the positive or negative impact that we as humans can create in the society through our different actions. I notice that people are supporting more local business and are more conscious when they shop. For us, supporting sustainability and fair-trade practices wasn’t something new. However, COVID-19 strengthened our commitment to these practices mainly due to the fact that so many people are currently being affected by it. We have been actively working to achieve an industry where human rights and sustainability are not the effect of an initiative, but the cause of a business well run. In addition, I thrive to work with sustainable fibers and materials that aim to reduce fabric waste and shift toward a more responsible usage of chemicals, water, and energy.
How did you find the artisans to work on this collection from different pockets of the world?
Garmino: I am proud to say that we work and partner with the best and most skilled artisans and companies in the craftsmanship field. The journey to discover them has been extensive but very pleasant at the same time. I started this journey a few years ago. I traveled to different countries in both South America and Europe and met with artisans in person so I could learn more about them; not only their techniques but also their philosophy, beliefs and needs so we could create a strong relationship that is based on trust and loyalty. For this particular collection, we partnered with a family-owned knitwear company in Italy in order to recruit very skilled local female artisans to work on my designs. On the other hand, we have a beautiful team of Peruvian indigenous artisans, most of whom live in the Andean mountains and have a lifelong craftsmanship experience. Many of them started to knit when they were 5-6 years old. Their art has been shared generation after generation for hundreds of years.
You are employing women in Italy and Peru to create this collection. What does that mean to you?
Garmino: I come from a female-entrepreneur family. On one side, there is my mother, an empowered woman who held different management positions in a time where men were mostly playing professional roles while women would stay at home. On the other hand, there is my sister who built a major pharmaceutical company from scratch. From them, I not only learned that success is the reflection of how hard you worked in order to get your dreams and goals but also the importance of supporting other women and encouraging them to realize their value and reach their potential by providing them sustainable jobs.
When women are given the opportunity to generate income, it impacts their families and their community economic standing. My goal is to empower these artisans to make strategic, independent life choices by providing them jobs with fair wages. Through this support these women’s lives are improved and transformed, receiving a better future for them and their families. For me, it’s a great joy that I can provide jobs and a source of income to these artisans. When you get a piece from Valerie Garmino, not only you are getting beautiful and unique wearable art, but you are also helping to preserve a remarkable way of life and a cultural treasure.
To learn more about the Dallas designer or check out the La Vie en Rose for pre-order, visit valeriegarmino.com.