DAMA, founded by Priscilla Taveras, seeks to embody a way a life for the fashion-forward woman, while simultaneously evolving contemporary design. Priscilla drew inspiration from her mother while growing up in NYC, despite having a tough upbringing. Her mother, always gracious and poised, yet youthful - and having an incredible wardrobe along with it, had a startling effect on Priscilla. This resilience and strength allowed her to develop DAMA with no formal training. This life-long dream, focused on producing minimalist inspired clothing with an urban edge, is for the woman who expresses confidence and sensuality throughout life. Arising out of Priscilla'supbringing, there is a DAMA woman in all of us. Crushing insecurity by self-confidence, and knowing exactly what you want in life.
Your designs are inspired by confident women with a strong character living in our urban society, how do you think women of today have changed during the last 15 years?
Women today are taking a more fearless approach when it comes to what they want in life, their careers, self expression and breaking the glass ceiling. I believe a lot has changed in regards to how women perceive and interact with each other as well. As more women have achieved success, we now see each other more as peers and collaborators rather than direct competitors. For a long time it was men telling women, “You won't be able to succeed”, which evolved to women saying “If she succeeds it threatens my own success”. Finally, women are now saying “How can we help each other achieve our goals so we are all successful?” Its truly a beautiful thing.
How has your roots and childhood effected your creativity today?
I had a pretty rough upbringing that forced me to mature and toughen up quickly. In retrospect, I was forced to be introspective at an early age because within myself was one of the few ways I found comfort and personal growth along with my interests in art and music. I’ve always had a big heart and put lots of effort into anything I set my mind to. I think you can see this being translated into this first collection; where it has it's sweet and feminine elements, yet at the same time it carries a sense of rebellion. You will see this even more in whats to come for FW17.
You have no formal training in fashion design, what kind of impact has this had on your working process and career?
Sometimes I feel conflicted, insecure or have fears that an idea of mine will not be realized. One of the mental challenges is shifting gears back and forth between inspiration mode and design mode. Its a challenge keeping the process on track especially since I oversee all aspects of the business as well. However, I have formed an amazing team that complements my skill set. Since I'm new to the industry it makes every milestone feel like a huge achievement and opportunity to learn. Being a little naive allows me to say “Why not?” when someone says “It can’t be done”. If all ends up going well, the outcome is something beautiful that dances on the edge of impossible.
How important has the social media been to your career?
Social media is all about connecting people to items and experiences, and has been one of my key sources of inspiration. In an hour on Instagram we can see more diverse and inspiring things than our grandparents saw within a decade, but with a little less intimacy. I only recently started using social media to share the inspiration and imagery for DAMA and I am still getting a feel for being on the other side of content creation.
Can you tell us more about this collection and the inspiration around it?
This collection was inspired by some elements of architecture, but mainly by Sukeban girl gangs of Japan. What I loved most about them was their loyalty, unity and how they came to be considering their male counterparts forbid them from entering their circle of gangs. The way I used hardware on this collection was also my way of showing how these women would conceal weapons within the layers of their school uniforms. I'm very imaginative when it comes to creation, so this collection in part represents the essence of who I am.
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