Exclusive Interview with Andre Soriano

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Andre Soriano Spring 2013

ModXchange brings you the exclusive interview with Andre Soriano, couturier and star of Rihanna’s “Styled to Rock” TV show. With influences from cosmopolitan cities worldwide such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo, his designs include all type of garments from active wear to classic evening wear. He specializes in elegant wedding and couture gowns and only selects the best luxurious fabrics such as satin, velvet, chiffon, cashmere, knits and the crochet with bead-work materials that comes from Asia and Europe. His designs have been featured in many publications including Italian Vogue.

As a fashion designer, Andre Soriano highly believes in giving back to the community where he joined
and conducted non-profit organizations to benefit fundraiser for HIV/AIDS orphans living in Africa, City College of San Francisco College Fund and other charities. He channels the high fashion and high art, and is inspired by old Hollywood glamour.

Recently being a part of ‘Styled to Rock’, a Fashion Reality Show ‘Executive Produced’ by Robin Rihanna Fenty gave him an exposure of having a celebrity wear his clothes, which will allow him the means to expand his clothing line beyond San Diego. Andre’s fashion mantra is “Peace, love, glamour and fashion!”     

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Andre Soriano Spring 2013

Once you knew what you wanted to be, how did you make it happen?
At an early age, my family has always surrounded me by art, music, theater, architecture and fashion. Migrated from the Philippines at the age of 15, I was fascinated how there is so much culture in United States of America. I loved clothes, so I decided to pursue that ‘American Dream’ and become a fashion designer at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. I also went to Renaissance Entrepreneur Center for Business to learn the ropes on how to run a business. I was very excited when finally opened up my first store in San Francisco.

How has ‘Styled to Rock’ influenced your career going forward? 
“Styled to Rock” is a fashion reality competition produced by Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty that aires every Friday 8/7 central on Bravo. In every episode, an A-list celebrity comes to the studio and each contestant designs clothes for them. There are very big names attached to the show such as Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus, Carley Ray Jepsen, Kelly Osbourne to name a few. As far with my career moving forward, I take things one day at a time. Life is full of surprises and “Styled to Rock” is such an amazing opportunity. I am ultra blessed and grateful for being part of it!

How did you get picked to be on the show?
I have done fashion shows in San Diego and Rihanna and her team did a research and found me. I was stoked! When I got a call from Rihanna’s casting staff on the phone, I could hardly speak and was at the verge of tears just to get this phone interview. The anticipation took almost a year just to be where we are at today. Life is incredible and full of surprises!

What was it like to meet Rihanna?
Meeting Rihanna was incredible! I get to kiss her hand and she is such a delicate powerful lady. I was almost in awe and didn’t know what to say. It’s one of those moments in life that you are just speechless. It was amazing to have met her and other celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Kylie Minogue, Pherrell Williams and supermodel Erin Wasson. It was incredible!

What do you hope you get from being on the show?
I have always been fascinated with Hollywood. I always position my work towards celebrities. My
2012 collection was inspired by old Hollywood glamour and stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey
Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Deitrich, Grace Kelley, and Jean
Harlow. Now, after being in the Rihanna’s ‘Styled to Rock’, she is actually my muse for ‘Punk De Luxe’ 2014 pre-fall Collection. It is Hollywood, edgy, avant-garde, young, demure and sophisticated. It was really fun and exciting doing this collection. I had an incredible opportunity to showcase my work at Los Angeles Style Fashion Week, and it was a BLAST!

Do you gravitate toward certain materials for your work?
It really depends on the Collection. Every time I am in a fabric store, and Michael Levine is one of my favorites in Los Angeles, I feel like I’m in a candy store. There are so many delicious fabrics and I want to take the whole store home.

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If you could only name one person who inspired you the most in this industry, who would it be?
I admire each talented and amazing designer on this planet. I cannot pick one because each individual fashion designer has their different design aesthetics. It’s Inspirational.

I saw your work with Acura, what are some other goals for this brand moving forward?
I normally specialize in custom-made bridal and evening gowns, however, I just launched my Women’s and Men’s ready-to-wear pre fall collection 2014 during Los Angeles Style Fashion Week. It is my new interpretation of this day of age on what’s hot now.

Please describe your work space. 
I have a studio in La Mesa where I worked at. I have apprentices and independent contractors working
for me. I am ultra blessed for having such an incredible team in all angles.  After doing Los Angeles Style Fashion Week, we have a lot of potential and prospective investors that are approaching us, which we are reviewing right now.

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Andre Soriano Spring 2013

Do you remember the first thing you ever made? What was it?
I was actually in Milpitas High School when I have my first experience as a Fashion Designer. I was 18 and learning how to sew in my sewing class. There was an opportunity in our class to have a Fashion Show at Milpitas Community Center and I was with most of my friends that were also aspiring designers and participated in this community show. It was so exciting especially when you were a teenager to participate in a community event.  I made a green stretch velvet dress with lace sleeves and lace peek-a-boo on the upper hip that was showcased on the runway. To my surprise, one of the guests in the audience loved the dress and my first ever sale in this field was bought for the price tag of $50.00.  I was so happy that she loved it.  Little does she know that this would be the first Andre Soriano vintage design I hope she reads this article.

When did you move to San Diego and why? 
We moved to San Diego in 2006 because my partner is a general contractor and moved his business to La Jolla. I have my storefront at the Excelsior District in San Francisco and living at the Presidio. Just for change, my partner had an offer to move in San Diego because there is a lot of building that needed to be retrofitted, which is one of his expertise, so we decided to look for a place. We found this cute little humble abode in La Mesa and we fell in love with it. Meanwhile, back in 2008, I didn’t know anyone in San Diego and my partner told me: “Why don’t you venture around San Diego and go shopping at Fashion Valley”, and so I did. I did not know anyone in San Diego and while I was shopping, I saw Neiman Marcus, which is one of my favorite places to shop in San Francisco, and I applied, since I closed my store and moved here. It took me 3 hours of interview from the Store Manager, Human Resources Manager and the couture manager, Ms. Jeannie Campanella, and they hired me.  I have met the most affluent people in San Diego while working at Neiman Marcus, and then got promoted as Couture Specialist in the Couture Department, and I loved it!

Vogue Italia

Vogue Italia

What do you think of the style in San Diego?
In Sunny San Diego, There is actually diversity as far in clothing. Yes there’s casual, beachy, but when San Diegans dressed up, it’s to the nine. I love the night life and different pockets of neighborhoods. San Diego is definitely stylish when it come to fashion.

What are some easy ways people can spruce up a boring on plain outfit?
It is always essential to have an accessory like a nice hand bag. It really depends where you are going. For daytime, a nice two inch heels with an a-line dress to go out for a coffee with your friends. In the afternoon you can throw in a nice little bolero jacket along with it, and as evening goes, you can also incorporate a pair of gloves with a dramatic hat if you are going to see a play in a theater.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

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