October 14, 2010

camelia was nice enough to let me photograph her studio up in diamond heights, a hefty bikeride into the hills above the city with a panoramic view of the incoming fog. her talent is apparent right as you walk into her home. it’s impeccably organized and tidy, which is reflected in her garments’ clean lines, bold shapes, and solid colors. her sketches, on various inspiration boards on the walls, are just as fashion illustration should be: quick, lean, and leggy– and to be expected from a fashion design and illustration teacher at san francisco’s academy of art university. she launched her eponymous line this past spring with a collection of expertly tailored dresses paired with leather harness accessories and now she’s working on developing her second collection.

originally from romania, she told me stories of her past life studying art under communism the explosion of creativity and production after the wall fell. there was no past fashion industry, so they started from scratch, creativity flowing limitlessly in an industry with no rules. after quickly skyrocketing to fashion fame in her country, she landed a design job in london after the firm saw her work on europe’s fashion tv. there she learned the business end of the fashion industry, sketching endlessly while trying to learn english and navigate a foreign culture.

now she is using tokens from her past as inspiration for her next collection. the red kerchief from her childhood uniform hangs in the corner of her studio with an array of yves klein electric blue images and swatches. not only is she getting this collection together, she and husband, greg, are expecting their first baby in a few weeks! congratulations! can’t wait to see where camelia goes from here!

visit camelia’s website for information on where to buy her line and don’t miss her featured in 7×7 magazine’s hot 20 under 40!

Name:  Camelia Aveloaei Skikos

Age: 35

Hometown: Iasi, Romania

Where are you right now? San Francisco, California.

What do you do? I am a Fashion Designer and I am currently working on my own women’s wear line. I also teach Fashion Design at the Academy of Art University.

Where are you going? Forward I hope … I don’t plan too much ahead. I love letting myself be guided by intuition and sudden gusts of ideas.  Right now I’m going to continue working on my next collection.

What will you be doing when you get there? Create, design, play … It’s great when a job turns into an adventure, when you get to build and create something that you really like and you have fun while you do it.

How did you decide to go in this direction? While I enjoyed designing for big companies like Levi’s and Gap, I was always in a constant need for more creative freedom and flexibility.  To me, the only way to have that was to start my own clothing line.

Do you have any expectations? To be able to express myself and my ideas without limitations. To not lose that urge to explore and create.  To allow myself to be wondered.

Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? Yes, sometimes all at the same time.

What are you looking forward to? Exploring. I love discovering the hidden beauty in everything around me and transforming that into fashion.

What are you scared of? When you have your own company, every choice you make, from the most insignificant to the most important, will follow you through every step of the process … the realization of that can be scary sometimes.

What happens if it doesn’t work out? The experience itself is worth everything.  I don’t think too much of what will happen if it doesn’t work but rather how much or how little is going to work.

What is the worst thing that could happen? To feel limited. To not have the freedom to create or do what I want. To stop being curious about things that happen around me, around the world …

What is the best thing that could happen? I think the best thing is what makes you happy and content. For me happiness is a matter of balance rather than intensity. I will be a mom soon so I hope I will be able to find that perfect harmony between career and personal life.

Did you ever think you’d be where you are now? I grew up in Romania while it was caged by communism and brutal dictatorship. The fashion industry used to be limited to just a few factories that belonged to the government and everything produced there looked like uniforms. Privately owned companies just didn’t exist. Most people were not allowed to travel outside the communist countries or have any access to information about what was happening around the world. As a designer you must be informed, explore, observe the world and experiment, reach conclusions and then break them. That was almost impossible during those times of restrictions and limitations.  Fashion was more of a way to express myself and to evade the uniformity of those days; I couldn’t even dream of it as a career.  So no, at that time I never thought that one day I would be able to work as a designer and start my own clothing line in San Francisco.

Have you ever felt like this before? No.

What are you leaving behind? Limitations.

What will you miss? I will always miss my homeland and everybody I know there.  I left Romania more than 10 years ago.  After communism was over I was free to see the world so I traveled a lot. Eventually I decided to move to London. From there I moved to San Francisco. That was 7 years ago. Now this is my home. Still, I go to Europe at least once a year. My husband is Greek so we go together and visit our families in Greece and Romania, and our friends who live all over Europe.

What did your friends say when you told them? They were all very encouraging.


several photos courtesy camelia! thanks!


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au revoir agnes b. (and merci!...
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  1. W. on February 14, 2011 at 3:21 am

    yeah nice…unfortunately not everybody has the same talent.:(

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