Local designer, Virginia Arrisueño, is doing what most people don’t think exists in a city filled with politicians, lobbyists and attorneys. She’s designing…fashion. And for her, there is no shortage of inspiration.
“A lot of the times I find inspiration in my everyday activities. For example, it can be during my jogs through Rock Creek Park, when I am out doing errands, or when I’m with my dog walking her in the evening,” says Arrisueño. “D.C. is beautiful … For me, there’s always something catching my attention when I’m out.”
Arrisueño – whose burgeoning line of stylish, high-quality knits, have found homes at much-loved hipster havens across the country like Brooklyn’s Alter and San Francisco’s Villains Vault, to L.A.’s celeb-friendly Hillary Rush (hello, Kate Moss shops there), to our very own Redeem on 14th Street – has managed to mesh beauty and functionality in her modern, sexy, but utterly wearable (and reasonably priced) line of scarves, hats, and gloves. (I’m personally coveting the the ladies glove and the spiral rope.)
Blending contemporary style with ethnic influences from her Peruvian heritage, she works with skilled artisans in Peru to create meticulously crafted pieces, subtle enough to be worn everyday, but with enough character and craftsmanship to make a statement.
Arrisueño received her BFA at the University of Maryland, where she focused almost exclusively on fiber art. Her creative talent and technical skills have been lauded through several awards including the Sadat Art for Peace Award, delivered by Nelson Mandela, and first prize in Viridian Artists, Inc.’s national competition, juried by Robert Rosenblum who is curator at this little place called the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Arrisueño has also fine-tuned her artistic skill with stints at the Hirshhorn Museum and Numark Gallery in D.C. and Vertigo Gallery in London.
I caught up with Arrisueño, who was born in Morristown, New Jersey, this week just as she was working through a customs debacle on her latest shipment of goods.
When did you launch your first collection?
My first official collection of knit accessories was launched last Fall/Winter 2008. This current collection is my second one.
Why knits? Why scarves gloves, and hats?
When I started de*nada back in 2005, I was originally designing handbags and tees. Later, I started experimenting with knits, and just overall became obsessed with it. Since I studied fiber art in college, I feel like the design process for knits comes to me a lot more organically than designing handbags, for example. I enjoy it more. And so for this year, I decided to focus entirely on knit accessories.
What materials do you use, primarily?
At this time, I primarily use a polyamide mix fiber. I like to describe it as a faux angora … it’s super soft, keeps you warm, and most importantly it’s animal-friendly.
How have you grown your collection each season?
Each season, I grow my collection by adding additional styles and colors taking into consideration my aesthetic and overall my brand’s vision.
Do you find it challenging to be in the fashion business in a government town?
No, I don’t feel like it’s challenging to be in the fashion business in a government town. Washington, DC is progressing in every aspect — especially D.C.’s community of artists and designers. People here are very supportive of the arts, and I am very excited to be living and working here in Washington, D.C.
What does the future hold for de*nada and for you?
For the future, I hope to expand my current collection to include a larger selection of women’s and men’s accessories for both Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter seasons. Plus, I want to return to designing handbags and venture into cut and sew the following year.
Did someone say handbags?? Where do we sign?
Virginia lives in D.C. with her fiancee, artist Kelly Towles and their dog, Mia.