Phoenix Graphic Designer Rhonda Zayas Wore Tiffe Fermaint to The Grammys


That's how Rhonda Zayas describes the Tiffe Fermaint gown she wore to The 56th Annual Grammy Awards last Sunday.

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"I had a vision, and it came to life," Zayas, who's a graphic designer, says of the dress.

She's a member of the The Recording Academy, and this was her first year attending the music awards ceremony.

"This year, 2014, marks 20 years that I've been a professional designer, and I'm definitely at a point of evolution," she says, mentioning that her recent projects have included working as a creative director with a few different bands and creating illustrations that rock fashion designer Ray Brown incorporated into catsuit costumes for Lady Gaga's latest tour.

Currently, Zayas sells art prints and other items on her website, She plans to branch out into fashion this year, having more of her illustrations digitally printed on fabric to create garments.

The Phoenix area resident says that choosing to sport designs by her friends Fermaint and jeweler Cornelis Hollander was easy. "I have always admired [Hollander's] craftsmanship and unique designs," she says. "I have secretly dreamed of someday being able to have a reason to wear one of his pieces."

She's known both Hollander and Fermaint since she moved from Los Angeles to Phoenix 11 years ago. "Tiffe is dear to my heart. I've watched her grow in fashion since she was a teenager. Her determination and passion is astounding. She just keeps going and growing, and it's inspiring."

Fermaint says she was honored that Zayas asked her to design a dress for her Grammy debut.

"I knew I wanted it to be red fade to black and wanted to incorporate my illustrated fabric [titled Roots Before Flowers], but not as the main fabric," Zayas says. Her only real requirement? She had to be able to twirl in it.

"Rhonda's style is pure rock chick but she is also retro glam at heart," Fermaint says. "To encompass all that is Rhonda in one dress, we chose a '50s-inspired silhouette with a structured bodice, gathered at the side, and a fishtail skirt. A separate skirt was added in the back."

"The satin lining was digitally printed with her illustration," Fermaint says of the dressmaking process. "I used a beautiful, deep-red silk dupioni that I later dipped-dyed black. I loved the way the silk floated in the air as she twirled."

Zayas says the finished product was flawless. "I received compliments throughout the night on both dress and jewelry. It was definitely a winning combination."

Seeing the dress on the red carpet was inspiring for Fermaint -- and she plans on pursuing similar work, she says. Since Zayas loved the dress, we wouldn't be surprised to see more Fermaint originals gracing red carpets very soon.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski