Giovanna Flores stands out in a city full of driven individuals. At 23, she has already found her niche in the young design scene of New York. A student of artist Susan Cianciolo, arguably one of the most influential designers to a certain sect of current New York creatives, Giovanna’s clothing possesses the artfulness of her mentor. The two are undoubtedly cut from the same cloth. By day an assistant designer for Creatures of The Wind, and by night working tirelessly on her own collection—which has the close-to-the-hand feel that exemplifies the design scene in New York right now—Giovanna is rarely at rest.
When did you first decide, if you have decided, that you wanted to work in design?
I guess I haven’t decided. I started sewing when I was 12 because my mom thought it would be therapeutic for me to take a class. It was mostly about making quilts and pillowcases—I was interested in clothes but my teacher wouldn’t let me skip to that—so I quit. I asked for a sewing machine the next Christmas or birthday. I ended up teaching myself. It was the most empowering thing—to make clothes that hung from my body just the way I wanted them to.
Can you think of a person who greatly affected your decision?
I worked in retail since I was 15, which is when I learned about designer clothing. I liked being with the clothes, trying them on, learning about the finishing and quality. I liked learning about our clients, too. Working in a retail clothing space is such a unique thing; people are so vulnerable when they shop. You see everything about a person: their insecurities, their strengths. I kept a notebook with our client’s names on it. It listed all the brands they bought and their sizes. I kept records of what they said they liked so I could check in when we got new things. From the outside, it seems like nothing—a tactic to sell clothes—I didn’t see it that way. It was special. I think I realized then that I wanted to design, or at least be part of the conversation about making, and to try being on the other side.
What space do you feel most comfortable working in?
For my own work, my bedroom. Either in my room in New York or my room at my parent’s house in Los Angeles.
What are your necessities, for work and for life?
I work with found objects and yards of fabric I find here and there, so materially, I need very little. I mostly just need comfort. I am constantly checking in with myself to make sure I am healthy inside and out.
What object in your immediate vicinity is most important to you?
My bed, which I guess has to do a lot with the question above. It’s not a great bed, in fact it’s pretty shitty. But I do a lot of work from it and it brings me comfort and some sort of stability. Living in such a loud city, it’s nice to know my bed is there.
What do you see as the place of women in fashion at this moment?
I think it is important for women in fashion to take risks right now. There is a lot of change that has to happen in the industry, and it needs to come from women. We need to be on the alert and vocalize issues rather than fall back into routines.
What holds you back?
Responsibilities that come with becoming an adult: bills, health insurance, work.
Do you see fashion (in a larger sense, not just design) as being able to affect culture at large?
Of course, it is such a constant; it has the persistent ability to reflect on an ever-changing world.
How do you place yourself within the city? Is there a New York fashion scene?
There is a great energy in this city. It is very inspiring to be here. I am happy to be surrounded by people making things. It is a great thing to help each other grow and evolve with our work.
What do you see as an issue that is largely ignored?
In fashion? I wish retail was exciting. Shoppers should be given more credit and sales should be more about teaching people about clothes than telling them what to buy.
Is there a creator/artist who you see yourself as a continuation of? Is there a lineage you see yourself continuing?
I have been greatly inspired by my former teacher, boss, and friend Susan Cianciolo. She taught me so much. Working with her was the first time I saw fashion breaking the rules of the industry. The relationship she has with her clients and with her work is such a genuine, special thing. I hope to continue my practice in a way that feels similar.
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