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Sunroom Q+A: Carmen Molina

Introducing a new designer to the Sunroom family, Carmen Molina — whose beautiful silk and satin kimonos, dresses, trousers, and accessories are our latest obsessions.

Born in Bogotá and currently based in Los Angeles, Carmen studied photography before turning her creative eye to fashion design. We’re all better for it: her pieces are truly wearable works of art, crafted in the most beautiful jewel tones and rich with meaning and symbolism. Read on to get to know Carmen and discover more about her line and inspirations.


How has your photographic eye and training influenced your approach to designing apparel? 
When you train to be a photographer you are most likely exposing yourself to the most compelling images from around the world and those images will most likely impact who you are, who you want to become, and how you perceive the world.  Your eye is constantly responding, questioning, getting informed, and being transformed.

I gravitate to images that are timeless, elegant, truthful, sensual, beautiful. Same with clothing. I know what I want to create and every time I make a piece that piece becomes an attempt at that.

Because of photography I understand about balance, rhythm, composition, color, depth, texture. When I make clothes I’m not thinking of just the clothes... I’m thinking of the subject as well, woman and clothing making part of a whole that must, like a photograph, be balanced and imbued with life.

What's particularly inspiring to you right now? 
Silk. There’s something so pure and poetic about this textile. And it is inspiring to see the art I’ve been producing printed on this material. 

There's so many different forms in which the art can exist and then exist again as something else. To me, it’s like a beautiful and neverending thread.

Are there any material constraints with silk that challenge you to be creative in different ways? 
Silk has an incredible amount of possibilities. Within its realm I currently feel I have all I need. There’s a lot out there to work with;  silk jersey, organza, chiffon, crepe, raw silk, duchesse, amongst others, each offering different properties.  

For this collection, I only worked with silk charmeuse. It was a choice based on the clothes  I wanted to create. Charmeuse is what most people think of when they think of silk. It’s very light, the hand is buttery, the finish is shimmery and it drapes the body. I wanted the body to be fluid, luminous and protected so none of these qualities felt like a constraint. 

The focus was to stay respectful to the textile and to the body, keeping the construction to the minimal and letting the art give the clothing its depth and its weight. 

What part of the design process do you love the most?
I love the part when I’m exploring the world and its textures with my camera. I get to see wonders, the gift that the planet is, I get to look close at the animals, the wings of a butterfly or the soft shimmering skin of a fish, I get to touch the flower, I get to feel the ocean, the sun and the rain, I experience the soul of each place through its people music and food, all of which is imbued in my work.

I also love it when I have the photographs I want and I can create the art. When I’m in that mode I hardly sleep. I will select my best photographs and begin preparing the canvas on my computer screen. Photographs are like a brush to me. I’ll take a little bit of that metallic texture in a photograph of rusted steel from an abandoned factory in India and add it to a corner of the canvas, and then, maybe, I’ll take a fluid blue I found on Salton Sea beach and layer it on top of the rocky whites of Israel’s Dead Sea and so on. I love working with color, form, textures and to experience the creation of the work layer after layer.

At that  point when I feel I’m done, the photographs have become something else and another wonderful part of the process takes place. It’s time to cut. Only when I have a print that can exist by itself, without the garment, I’ll be inspired to create the clothing piece. This time I’ll take the art apart by cutting it before putting it back together through sewing. That part is when I have to do math. Measure the sleeve. How high in relation to the lower part of the body do I want that color. How is the front canvas going to flow with the back. How much of this part of the print do I want around the neck, etc. It’s like adding color to a body. 

My design ethos in three words:
Art. Light. Freedom. 

I always start my day with:
One delicious cup of coffee. I prefer to make it myself. 

Secret talent:
I'm hoping to keep it secret for a bit longer and share when the time is right. 

Song I'm loving right now (or what’s your pump-up/dance jam?)
Playa Grande by Sofi Tukker & Bomba Stereo 

Travel destination I always re-visit (or suggest to my friends):

Five things I’ll never travel without: 
1. Silk Kimono
2. Camera
3. iBooks Library
4. Biologique Recherche face toner
5. My partners (even if he is not there physically he is always present)

My mantra:
The impossible is possible.