Thursday, February 13, 2014

MUST-READ Interview: FIDM-Graduate Riley Suchánek Prepares for Her First 'AD HOC' LA Fashion Show!

(Fashion designer and founder of AD HOC, Riley Suchánek)

A college graduate feeling hopeless after getting her degree because she has to find a “real” job? Totally normal. A college graduate who decided to take matters into her own hands (turning that frown upside down) and create a fashion show production company? Straight-out gutsy and admirable. 

Meet Riley Suchánek, the soft-spoken and strikingly introverted designer who is putting her degree from The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) to good use. With an innate understanding of the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into fashion, Riley developed AD HOC with a specific goal in mind: To produce a fashion show that is anything but typical. AD HOC offers individual designers the chance to showcase his/her entire collection at one time versus a few select pieces here and there. The designers of AD HOC "pride themselves on their fresh intake and ambition and strive to get their feet in the overpopulated and highly selective door of the fashion industry." 

With a handpicked team of support, Riley is currently in the process of finishing up the planning of her first AD HOC fashion show, set to take place on February 27, 2014.  Having gone to several fashion shows for nearly a decade, I have always been amazed with the entire production of such an event. From the collections and the models to the music and the chosen venue – this is no easy feat. 

(Riley en vogue) 

So I encourage you to check out my exclusive interview with Riley, soak up her passion, and purchase your affordable ticket today! Yup -- I'll be there. 

So you went to FIDM! What was your area of concentration?

Yes! I did go to The Fashion Institute to study apparel design. It is a two-year program for an associates degree. I learned the process of designing, from illustration through production. 

What about fashion interests you the most?

I like fashion because there are pieces that you personally relate to. Not everyone likes the same outfit in one collection. The audience will be attracted to different things, but this one designer (or group of designers) projected their idea in a clear way that others can wear and carry with them. It's been said before, but fashion is an expression of yourself in a tangible way. That is interesting to me.

Growing up...Did you always see yourself getting in the fashion industry?

I decided I wanted to make clothes when I was around the age of 10. I was always into drawing and sewing, bringing something to life. I am a particular person, so I like the control of picking out a certain hue of a color, pattern of fabric, length of a hem, or even the men’s shoe that should be worn with a woman’s outfit. This makes every designer’s aesthetic, but I know mine very well. So it seemed fitting to follow what has been natural to me all along.

(The AD HOC team putting in work.)

 Tell me about AD HOC!

Well, AD HOC is a fashion show I decided to put on after struggling to find a job after graduating. Every job listing required 3-5 years of experience. School never seemed to fit the “experience” requirement, so I looked to see if I could show my ideas somewhere were others were in the same boat as me. Again, I am particular and couldn’t find anything that matched what I had pictured in my mind for that kind of event and environment. 

I decided to make this “thing” I was looking for, myself. I asked friends from school and different media outlets if they would be interested in participating, and chose four other designers. I built an Indiegogo campaign to help with booking a venue and started an Instagram page for the show to get people other than family and friends to attend the show. 

How involved are you with the entire planning of the show?

I am showing a mini-collection at the show as well as producing the show. This is the first fashion show I’ve been a part of other than this one Chloé show I was a dresser for. Being a volunteer dresser isn’t really a lot of experience to me, although it is on my resume! Ha! That’s just the thing about resumes, you can make yourself look really good, but from the hiring company’s point of view, you can’t really see the hard work behind the one-line description of your previous positions. 

I've been to several fashion shows over the last decade, and I know that there are tons of factors that contribute to it being a success! What do you believe makes a fashion show a success?

You could probably teach me a few things then! I’m always learning new things through producing this show. There are a lot of little details that sometimes are challenging for an introvert like myself. What makes a fashion show success, to me, is hard work and supporters. If it weren’t for those who believed in me enough to donate to the show, I wouldn’t have a show. You also have to give back. In building this for myself and my portfolio, I wanted to help others show their work. They can then put this one their resume and hopefully get a better step into the door they’re after. 

What do you hope to contribute to the fashion industry? 

I want to contribute an intimate feeling of comfort and easiness to looking androgynous. I’m not drawn to commercial brands. I don’t hate them, I am just more drawn to things that look like they took a lot of time and thought to make. That is probably why I didn’t land a job after graduation in the industry -- I am picky in where I spend my time working for someone else. That has been a blessing and a burden. 

It's been 10 years since I've been out of college...And I still miss a good lecture! Do you miss anything about being a student at FIDM?

Yes! As much as I complained about homework and going to class sometimes, I do love school. I liked my program because it exposed me to things I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Art History, for example, became my favorite subject. I always liked art museums and had favorite pieces, but I would never even think to take an Art History class outside of my course. 

(Riley captured in thought...)

I also miss having more experienced people around me. I had a few really good professors, one of which I still keep in contact with, that really boosted my belief in my ideas. It’s very easy to second-guess yourself, but now I am clear on what I am capable of doing.

How would you describe your own personal style?

Androgynous with a baby-doll feel. Not the pink-girly-Barbie kind of doll, more like simple-silhouette-paper doll. 

Who or what inspires you?   

Honestly, everything inspires me. I really do believe everything happens for a reason, and with everything that happens to you, you learn something new about yourself. But, more specifically, designers like Rodarte, Acne, and Dries Van Noten further solidify that I should stand behind my work more. They are each very reassuring to me. I hope to be that to someone else in the future. 

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Anonymous said...

Great interview! I can't wait for the fashion show in a couple of weeks. It's inspiring to see a twenty-something who takes control of her dreams with such genuineness and passion.

Good Girl Gone Shopping said...

Thank you for reading! Yes, I agree...Very inspiring. :)