With a contemporary approach to fashion, Boston-based brand Graciela Rivas presents designs that are gracefully refined, surprisingly debonair, and inspired by the “it” girl looking for unique expression. Designer Graciela Rivas Leslin grew up surrounded by strong, fashionable women and, after obtaining her degree in international business in Mexico, she set forth to pursue her career in fashion inspired by the east coast and an infusion of color. The label uses bold colors in feminine silhouettes to create statement pieces for all occasions. With a vision for wearable innovations and comfort, the imaginative details of this line are worn effortlessly, allowing the brand to empower the modern woman and embrace her femininity. Today we speak to the Most Stylish Boston winner about inspiring women with the puzzle of styling.
How and why did you start designing?
Fashion is truly my passion, and I’ve always being interested in everything that deals with fashion styles, fabrication, and elegant clothing. Growing up, I would constantly search for the newest and latest trends in fashion. I would find myself reading and collecting fashion magazines and books with different styles from all parts of the world, since it was so fascinating to see how other fashion designers would construct these new styles. As I attempted to keep up with all of my favorite designers and their amazing collections, I became intrigued with how I would incorporate those different pieces into my own daily fashion expressions. I really knew that one-day, I wanted to present styles that would intrigue women as well as getting them thinking about how they could wear my designs.
I always knew I wanted to be part of the industry, so after finishing my business degree in Mexico, I decided to move to the U.S. to follow my dreams. My husband knew back then I wanted to design, so he acquired all the equipment I would need to begin. By taking fabric and experimenting with it, trying new construction techniques, iterating over, and over, on this process, I developed as a designer. I then found myself wearing my designs. People would often ask me where I got a skirt or dress, and I would tell them I made it. Then I knew I could continue to focus on design and unite my business background with fashion.
What is your brand aesthetic?
The label is for the modern, contemporary woman who truly appreciates details and lives for fashion! She wants to be chic, elegant and stylish, while embracing her feminine side. We create statement pieces for women looking for that unique expression. We want to bring joy to women’s lives, even if it’s just a small part of their everyday lives.
How did you meet your cofounders and start a brand together?
A long story on how our team met, but it really just comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Timing, as they say, is everything. There is no question the entrepreneurial spirit burns bright in us both, and we both knew that building a successful brand would offer me the opportunity and outlet to harness my creativity. So it was just the next logical step.
What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
You really appreciate the creativity in people, which inspires you to be as creative as possible, always pushing the boundaries. You understand the long hours of work, the passion, and the focus that are required to design some of the beautiful clothing we see all around us. But outside the long hours needed to pull off a line, it’s really about getting onto a platform where others can discover you. We think Nineteenth Amendment offers new designers a great opportunity for this discovery and we’re really excited to have our next line on the platform.
What do you think about fashion today?
There are so many brands out there today and the industry is moving at such a frantic pace that it’s really pushing the boundaries of fashion. We now have new technologies like 3D printing coming along and new materials and fabrics that have never been worked with, which are now being used in construction. This revolution is constantly forcing the designers of today to push the envelope. When you take it all in, with increasing access to information and social media, it’s really a great time for fashion, because more people are designing, more people are searching for statement pieces, and technology is marrying the two.
What is your fashion philosophy?
I believe you should feel confident with your fashion choices. I seriously think you have to experiment until you find the designs that resonate with what you feel, and of course have fun with this development! It’s also good to incorporate the trends of each season, but make sure to add your own touch. Be confident, experiment, and have fun.
What inspired this line?
This time around I searched for different pieces of art and photography involving “waves”, which really fueled the inspiration behind this line. I chose waves because I wanted this collection to have a flowing movement, elegance and modern silhouettes that would be really feminine and chic.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
The creative process of designing is where I’m the happiest and where I get lost during the workday. As a designer, I find inspiration everywhere, at all times. It could be a line seen in a building, a color from a flower or a tree, a shape seen in the city or a photograph seen in social media, a texture in nature, even a feeling. All of these have helped inspire the clothes you see at Graciela Rivas.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
Work hard. I know it might sound cliché but getting into this requires a full commitment – 100%. At the end of the day it’s your business, so everyday do something to reach one of your goals, you owe it to yourself.
Eat, sleep, and breathe style with Graciela’s new collection, Waves. Follow the brand to make waves when it launches.