By Gabriela Granziera

Brazilian-born fashion design student, Paula Amaral, showcased her first collection on the runway at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in September. Amaral was one of seven senior students, selected across top U.S. schools, to participate in the 11th annual Supima Design Competition and to show their collections during NYFW.

Supima, one of the finest cotton brands in the world, hosts the competition to introduce the next generation of designers to the fashion industry. The competition challenges students to be innovative with the conventions of eveningwear by creating five looks made from different types of Supima cotton fabrics – including denim, jersey, velveteen, shirting, and twill.

Amaral created a collection inspired by ‘a feeling’, rather than something visible or tangible. The Brazilian designer found herself at a crossroads – centered between her creativity, how the world seemed, and where it was going. “I was inspired by the moment and situation I was in when I started the collection,” she said. “At the time, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the uncertainties happening in the world. My parents were in Brazil experiencing a severe political and economic crisis…I felt the world and the people around had lost faith; I wanted to break the barrier of doubt and angst I was feeling.”

Amaral explained that this context was also where the collection’s name, “The Other Side”, originated. “The collection is a transition from where we are in this dark state of mind into where we can and should be…I wanted to capture the desire to escape, to restart, or to ‘cross the barrier’ that blocks us from moving forward – this moment of transition between two different realities…The ‘crossover’ was the first source of inspiration for experimental draping, which later defined the silhouettes in this collection. Initially the color palette was monochromatic, reflecting the moody or darker concepts of the collection’s inspiration.

Then, the transition between a dark, messy side to a brighter, cleaner one, emerged when I read the common quote, ‘love is the answer’. With that, a calming, muted, and desaturated version of pink came to mind. The ombré effect on the digital prints aim to represent transition; unpredictable color accents represent a touch of positivity and joy. Images of the city of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake served as a base for a series of my ink doddles, which were layered on top of each other to create a mix of ‘strokes’ that I laser-cut and applied to the garments.”

For Amaral, one of the most important and challenging factors during the development of her collection, was to honor the unique properties of each Supima fabric while maintaining her collection concept and inspired silhouettes. Amaral also felt that it was crucial to keep in mind the kind of women who she imagined wearing her collection, described as, “Contemporary women; multifaceted and free beings who are in control of their lives and choices”.

Amaral explains her line-up for The Other Side with a brief description of the character of the woman she envisions wearing each look, with a name inspired by each of Supima’s fabrics. “The first look reminds me of a modern tuxedo, ‘velveteen’; she is confident, nimble and elegant. The second look is ‘twill’; she is the adventurous one, especially when she experiments with new shapes and silhouettes. The third look is ‘denim’; she is the cool, forever young one, always committed to having fun. The fourth is ‘jersey’; she is the feminine, romantic, fluid and yet sexy one. Finally, the fifth is ‘shirting’; she is supposed to be mix all of the others, displaying confidence, elegance, cool, daringness, fluidity and sex appeal – she is the drama queen!

This year, the Supima Design Competition panel included industry experts such as NYFW founder, Fern Mallis, fashion designer (and competition mentor), Bibhu Mohapatra, as well as, returning guest host and stylist, June Ambrose, who remarked, “I think that Supima’s Design Competition is one of the single most important aspects of our industry in terms of incubating, harnessing and nurturing talent. The talent is so impressive; they’re performing at such a high level!”

In addition to participating in the competition and showcasing her debut collection at NYFW, one of Amaral’s garments was exhibited during Paris Fashion Week at an installation at the Supima Design Lab, which aims to compliment the well-established U.S.-focused Supima Design Competition.

Amaral is no stranger to international experiences. She was born and raised in the Nova Friburgo municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After attending a law program, Amaral pursued her undergraduate fashion design degree at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. In addition to being selected for Supima’s Design Competition this year, Amaral was also awarded the University’s San Francisco – Paris Sister City Scholarship Exchange; she is  now furthering her fashion design education at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in the heart of Paris, France during the 2018-2019 academic year.

To visit the fashion designer website click here. Instagram:@miranda.amaral

Photos with permission from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California / Getty Images.

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