Tiffe Fermaint Celebrates 10 years in Fashion

It all started with a birthday request; a 15-year-old Tiffe Fermaint wanted a sewing machine. She didn't know how to sew, but says she picked up a few skills from employees at local craft supply stores.

Fermaint caught the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. She made clothing that appealed to her peers, the young rave-type culture, and even strangers who Fermaint says made offers to buy what she was wearing. So she used the little website coding she knew and created a website to sell her creations. By age 18, her clothing was sold at local boutiques.

For a short time, Fermaint left for Los Angeles, where she attended The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and worked backstage at fashion events for Meghan Fabulous brand and designer Brian Litchtenberg.

And now she's back -- several collections and fashion shows later -- to celebrate 10 years of her self-titled fashion label. On Friday, November 19, BRICK will host "DECADE: Celebrating 10 years of Tiffe Fermaint," a free fashion and art event.

We wanted to know more about the lady behind the line. Find out what Fermaint had to say about her clothing line, trends in fashion and aspiring designers, after the jump...

Overall, who or what inspires your work?
Music... It's always been music. Starts with a song...Takes me to an imaginary place and I must dress the people in this imaginary place. A collection is born.

Tell us about your new collection?
This collection is entitled "City Crystal" inspired by a cold, sleepy, imaginary city built near a crystal mine in the winter of 2023. The crystals that are mined are very precious to the world and very sought after. The garments in this collection are designed with the high-class civilians in mind. Men's trench coats in wool, women's capeletes and jackets in raw silk, all white and all piped with lighting that is sound activated. Music that inspired this collection includes Múm, Phillip glass, Sigur Rós and Cliff Martinez.

Describe the type of person you see wearing your clothes. Someone who appreciates a designer's attention to their work. Someone who might care as much as I do about a garment's story from inspiration, creation, and styling. Someone not afraid to mix designer fashion with thrift finds and other modest pieces, creating their own statement. Someone who loves to talk about what they're wearing!

How are the Tiffe Fermaint designs of today different from the Tiffe Fermaint designs from year one? I hope to constantly maintain an innovative spirit in my work forever and ever. So I don't believe that will ever change. However, as time progresses, so does my ever-growing love for technology and my need to adapt a use of it in my designs. I'm very interested in the evolution of textiles and how technology is infusing even more practicality into garments. Heat sensor fabrics, self-tying shoes, programmed wires that are woven with fibers to create fabric that moves. These are all ideas that I hope to be applying to clothing.

For those who are unfamiliar with your work -- describe the style of the Tiffe Fermaint label in three words. Evolving, inventive, cerebral.

What current trend(s) are you loving and/or hating the most? I wish we could put the military trend to rest. It pops up every single year. On street level, any of the following hipster looks: "I live on a boat," "I am homeless," "I am a senior citizen." I am however enjoying seeing more young people dress up for regular occasions. Dapper looks for men and ladies in dresses. Bow ties and nylons. 'Tis the season.

What trend(s) do you see becoming popular in 2011?
Minimal, classic / classy, grey and muted colors.

In your 10 years of work on this clothing line, what are you most proud of? My endurance, overall. In ten years you're bound to hit some highs and lows, and I mean really low lows. But I've never given up on my dreams or allowed anything stop me from accomplishing what I wanted. I knew when I was nine years old that there was a place for me in the fashion industry and I made sure that I kept that place. My job title has shifted from one thing to the next, but no matter what my job title was in the fashion industry, I always designed my fashion label on the side. I kept my own voice and created my vision collection after collection. I've put all of my savings into shaping my art, scraping by with no complaints, because it was what will always keep me happy. My fashion label is about making people happy and giving back to the community, but also it's the one thing in life that will never give up on me because I never gave up on it.

What are your future endeavors? I hope to one day actually make money off my clothing line but that isn't priority for me. Continuation of creation is. My career as a visual artist and stylist for a large, international clothing retailer has been a blessing. It's a career path that not only allows me to use my talents as a stylist, but has provided me with stability that all designers crave. They have been sending me out of state to work lately and I hope to one day design for the company.

What advice would you give to aspiring designers or stylists? If there's a will, there's a freaking way. Never expect to land the dream job without working your ass off. No one will hand you anything in life. My favorite saying is: "You can have anything you want...if you work for it." Don't wait to create ... If you want to be a stylist, you better know your designers and you better know trends and you better have your own voice and own style. So research, research, research.

Why should people attend "Decade : Fashion and Art Event Celebrating Ten Years of Tiffe Fermaint"? The main reason of this event was to show my gratitude to all of those who have supported and inspired me over the years, including the whole downtown Phoenix community...

"DECADE: Celebrating 10 years of Tiffe Fermaint" will be held Friday, November 19 at Brick,455 N. 3rd St. in Phoenix. The event will include two fashion shows. The first show kicks off at 9 p.m. with fashions from Ashley Pasquan, Kelly Calabrese (who told us what she was wearing earlier today ...), and Pierced Heart by Katayna Star and Gabriel Grimm. A runway show for Fermaint's latest collection is scheduled for 10 p.m..

Live performances by ELEKROBAHN, THErapist, and DJ Pablo Gomez. Bobby Castañeda will be showcasing his art at the event. Expect treats from Urban Beans, gifts and lots of surprises.

The event is free, but runway seats can be purchased for $20 with proceeds going to Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA. To purchase runway tickets visit Fermaint's online store.

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D'Aundra Wallace