International Style

Photography by Isabella Bejarano.
All Clothes with Resin Insert by Shoshana Pinedo.
Styling by Noah Shaw.
Words by Ashley Castanos

Born in Amsterdam, recent Academy of Art University Graduate Shoshana Pinedo headed East after earning her MFA in Fashion Design in May 2013 with a final collection of luxury women’s wear influenced by the Italian artist Alberto Seveso and the paper artists Richard Sweeney, Matt Shlian and Norika Ambe. 

Her resume offers a prestigious line of experience, working for some of the world’s most well known contemporary brands including J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, and Jason Wu. She has also spent time employed as an accessories designer for couturiers Victor & Rolf. 

Her education combined with her European background, along with her knowledge of high fashion, has a heavy influence on her aesthetic.

When first moving to the United State, she overcame cultural barriers, including less open-mindedness than she had been used to, and missing her family, after coming to this country in 2001 to take an undergraduate degree in photography at Wheaton College in Massachusetts.
After leaving the Academy, Shoshana continues to consult for boutique design studios, international ateliers and major brands; designing, organizing and delivering memorable fashion capabilities.

We talked to her about where she has been – and where she is going.

ASHLEY CASTANOS: What have you been up to lately?

SHOSHANA PINEDO: The past few months, I have been working on the women’s wear team at J. Crew as a freelance Associate Designer. Currently I am designing for women’s novelty bottoms and suiting. It has been a great experience and I am learning the ins and outs of designing for a larger company.

AC: What does a regular workday in the studio look like for you?

SP: It’s always different. Typically, it consists of fittings, developing concepts and ideas for fabric and prints, approving strike off and sketching. To elaborate, concept development begins with a goal, or what you believe the goal to be when you set out. As the creative process unfolds and new elements and inspirations are introduced, the goal can evolve into something you never anticipated, that you could never have imagined without the process itself. This is how you can arrive at a truly novel and unique concept.

AC: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

SP: Inspiration can really come from anywhere. I love going to museums. I don’t have a favorite, there are too many to choose from. New York has a lot to offer so I try to go to at least one once a month. I love the Stedelijk and the Van Gogh museums in Amsterdam. I like to go where the best work is. If I am in Amsterdam and there is a great fashion exhibition in Paris, I will try to sneak off to go see it (that’s the beauty of living in Europe). 
I also like seeing what contemporary artists are working on. Like museums, I don’t have one specific artist who I’d call favorite, I just appreciate great creative work. If I had to name names, Andy Goldsworthy and Andy Warhol have both been an inspiration to me at some point.

I also love researching history and pop culture, and developing ideas from there. I never try to limit myself with where I can find potential inspiration – you never know where it will strike next.

AC: How was your experience designing for Viktor and Rolf? 

SP: I moved back to Amsterdam for the job, and it was an amazing experience that presented me with some unique challenges and put me in positions I could not even have dreamed of. I started at Viktor & Rolf as an intern and ended up in Paris as the Head of Accessories for the Fall 2012 Show. This was an unbelievably immense challenge and a lot of pressure. Fortunately I had an amazing team to work with and the show was a success.
I was able to work one on one with Viktor and Rolf, who were very nice, a humbling opportunity I’ll never forget. Having such talented designers put that much responsibility on my shoulders forced me to work hard and be at my best. I still keep in contact with the whole team and try to go back for shows to help whenever I am able.

AC: Can you explain the design process for the accessories you created for V&R? 

SP: Viktor and Rolf would come up with the concept for the next season and brief the teams. The accessories team had a little bit more room to explore and expand on those ideas.
We started with research, created concept boards, and presented those to the broader team before narrowing them down for continued development. We would sketch, make samples, receive samples from Italy, do fittings, make changes and then send them back to Italy. Eventually we would get the final product in the Paris showroom and finish the season with the [runway] show.

AC: Why do you think you have been so successful in your career? 

SP: I have always been open to any opportunity, and made sure that I did everything to the best of my abilities. 

AC: Can you recall any influences that inspired/encouraged you along the way?

SP: Definitely the people and experiences from Viktor & Rolf made a big impact on my career. At Academy of Art University, School of Fashion Executive Director Simon Ungless was great to work with. He really pushed me out of my comfort zone and empowered me to indulge in the whole process of creating.

For my senior thesis, I was working on fabric manipulations and ended up using resin to seam the garments together and to create panels. I think most teachers would have stopped me from pushing on because learning about this new material and developing a technique to manipulate it was a time-intensive process. I was tasked with producing a final collection in six months and even half way through I still had a lot to learn. I failed often but Simon was always there to support and encourage me.

AC: When you’re not doing freelance work, you are working on your own design projects. Would you mind telling us about them?

SP: Right now I am working on another small collection of coats and jackets.  I think it is good to keep working on your own projects as you design for different brands. It is uncommon for me to sew or make patterns as an in-house designer, so it is nice to keep those skills sharp at home.

AC: How do you spend your time when you’re not working? 

SP: My fiancé is an advertising art director so when we are free we like to do things to feed our creative minds  - visiting museums, watching movies, walking in the city, and photography adventures in the country.  

AC: Do you have any advice for aspiring designers? 

SP: Be open to any opportunity, because you never know where it might take you.

Model: Avery Tharp at Scout Model Agency. Hair & Make-Up: Preston Nesbit, Aburi Balk Management.