WOMENSWEAR DESIGNER Mathieu Mirano takes his inspiration from science and travel, which is no surprise given his upbringing. The son of an astrophysicist and nephew of a botanist, Mirano hails from a family steeped in science and the arts. “A lot of what I’m inspired by comes from the natural world,” he said. “It relates to astronomy and things I was taught as a kid. I could point out Venus and Jupiter in the sky when I was three.”
The most obvious example of the Huntington native’s geek-chic side stems from his 2013 collections. Details like fossil designs, beetle wings and bits of real meteorite embellished his pieces. His fall show invite resembled a petri dish, catching the eye of an editor at Popular Science who dubbed Mirano “the science geek of the fashion world.” He even devised a Ben Franklin-esque experiment involving a dress studded with resin pyramids and covered in wire to be left out during a storm and struck by lightning. Sadly that design never came to pass (we can’t imagine why…), but the in-demand designer—who has since dressed the likes of Lady Gaga, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Emma Roberts—is now concentrating on selling his more refined nature and travel-inspired designs in more than 30 stores worldwide.
Mirano’s creativity stems from his mother’s side, which includes interior and graphic designers, in addition to his musically-inclined paternal grandmother. At a young age, he watched in awe as she played the piano and told his dad he wanted “to play like Grannie.” His father listened and made him practice piano everyday starting at the age of five, which helped shape the younger Mirano’s work ethic. As a teen, he attended the Huntington School of Fine Arts to study drawing, painting and sculpture, all of which gave him the tools to pursue fashion later on. “I really needed the fine arts background to learn about color story, form, playing with space and how to draw the human body,” said Mirano, who now resides in Long Island City and works in the Garment District.
After studying for a short time at Parsons School of Design, Mirano left to create his own fashion line at 19. The following year he was one of the youngest designers to show his collection at New York Fashion Week. But he felt like he’d truly broken into the industry when Nicole Richie wore one of his gowns to the 2012 ALMA Awards in California. “It was a moment I’ll always remember,” recalled Mirano, now 25. “Seeing my gown on the red carpet, on a woman that I love so much. The image was everywhere, and it was the first time the world really got to know my name.”
Mirano attributes much of his success to supportive parents and their love of traveling. Twenty-five people in his extended family regularly tour the world together. “We’ve been to places like the Amazon, India and Egypt. Experiencing a place you’ve never seen before really sparks the imagination. It’s a gift.” Recently, that gift has kept giving by way of the designer’s Fall/Winter 2016 and Resort 2017 collections, Kendall Jenner and fall trends.
What’s the theme of your Fall/Winter 2016 collection?
It was based on my first trip to Egypt with my family. I was really inspired by the way the wind was moving around us. You could see all the flow lines going across the body. When I was designing, I was trying to make the wind visible through fabric. The show had a desert sand storm theme and the set was really crazy with sand, rocks and about eight 200-lb. tortoises walking around to give it more of an authentic quality.
Do the embroidered fringes and panels help convey movement?
Yes, the way the fringe and panels swirl around the body is our signature language. That’s how you can define it as Mathieu Mirano. You’ll see that swirling construction for the rest of what the brand will be.
Why did you use liquid silk for fall and silk faille for the Resort 2017 collection?
Like stretch lamé, liquid silk is a special European fabric and, right now, it’s exclusive to us. It’s a bit more expensive, but it’s really high quality and creates such a pop. Silk faille is a classic fabric that’s easier to wear and we’re treating it in a really beautiful way by punching up the color.
Which piece is most representative of your brand?
In resort, the white fringe dress with the silver beading at the waist is totally characteristic of what we do and it kind of represents the fun side of the girl. The blue, white and black V-neck column gown that has the fabric wrapped around the arms is quintessential Mathieu Mirano and feels a bit more serious for evening wear.
You’ve said the fringed, gradient gown with the crystals is one of your favorite pieces. Why is that?
I love a big rainbow and the piece was really influenced by the time of day when the sun is starting to rise but you can still see the moon and all the stars in the sky. The gown is very different, yet wearable.
So many celebs have worn your clothes. Is there one particular moment that stands out for you?
The big ones for me are Kendall Jenner and Julianne Moore. We recently dressed Kendall in a long, fringe, V-neck gown for Cannes and that was just a huge accomplishment for us. She’s so of-the-moment. That sort of thing changes your business and it changes your brand in the eyes of others. Julianne is one of my favorite actresses and we dressed her for an editorial in Health magazine. She was wearing one of our gold, metallic evening sweaters, which looked amazing with her red hair and skin tone. It made me feel really good that the pieces had a life outside of the showroom.
What’s on-trend for fall?
What we’re seeing is that we’re on-trend quite a lot, but not entirely on purpose. Retailers and editors are talking about a particular evening wear trend of across-the-shoulder pieces where there’s a strap that goes around your arm creating a shawl effect. Our blue, white and black resort column gown has this characteristic.
Who would you most like to dress?
Carey Mulligan is young, sophisticated and beautiful, everything that represents Mathieu Mirano. She could go either in the fun, fringe direction or I could see her in a beautiful evening gown that’s super colorful. It really depends on the event but I can see her in a dress with a fringe skirt and beads that kind of fade in to a top of just chiffon.
What does the future hold?
Locally, we’ll be selling a lot of dresses at Shari’s Place starting in October. They’ll have some signature fringe dresses that we evolve every season and they’re getting some exclusive styles as well. We’re really growing our specialty store business throughout the world right now, including the Middle East and Canada. We’re also in talks to partner with a huge department store. It’s really about an eveningwear business with one store per city to make sure the product stays exclusive—because you don’t want to see someone else in the same evening gown.