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Leave it to an Italian artist to infuse our LA fashion landscape with a much-needed dose of intelligent eveningwear that is “not too pretty pretty, and not too perfect,” as designer Valerj Pobega puts it. She designs, constructs, dyes, hand paints, and sews every piece of her tight ten piece collection, and while she names the goddesses of Hollywood’s golden age as her main inspiration, her work couldn’t have a more independent-minded and modern. The featherlight, intricate silk gowns and voluminous bubble tops of her spring '09 collection (her third season) demonstrate a harmonious fusion of her Italian heritage, her artistic background (both parents are artists, as is her husband Mattia Biagi) and the ease and free spirit of a California lifestyle. “It’s not really about the clothes for me, it’s more about creating something beautiful. I’m an artist at heart and so I need something that drives me towards creating."
What inspired your latest collection?
Surrealistic photography and Grecian elements that were very popular at that same time. If I’d sum it up in one sentence it would be “Grecian goddess goes to a Man Ray party.” When I find my inspiration it becomes an obsession for me. Last spring it was Louis Brooks—I got a bob, watched all her movies, and so on. Before that I had an Edie Sedgwick phase, cut my hair and wore her style of make-up. I completely fall into the character, but then it’s over and I’m looking for something new.
Who’s the quintessential Valerj Pobega woman?
A strong woman who is not afraid to wear whatever she likes and who has a non-conformist mindset.
Who’s your favorite LA designer?
Rudi Gernreich (1922-1985).
What are the advantages of working in LA over working in NYC?
Los Angeles is a very open city. For me, it’s the next New York. Since it is a city on the rise, I think it’s a good place to be for a young designer and artist. I feel like I’m getting a lot of support here. It’s wonderful!
What’s the season’s must-have item?
A volume top.
The season’s-not-under-any-circumstances – don’t care if you’re Lou Doillon or Kate Moss – have item?
I can’t answer that question. What I might like someone else might finds hideous and vice versa.