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This Venezuelan Designer Is LA's Next Big Star

Photo: Fabiana Pigna

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For some designers, a decided "made it" moment might be seeing their garment walking the red carpet on an A-list celebrity. For Fabiana Pigna, that feeling of success came from a different source. When the Venezuelan talent saw an Instagram post of Man Repeller's Leandra Medine wearing a blouse from her first collection, she couldn't help but geek out that the boundary-pushing fashion star would choose one of her designs.

Creating sculptural, bespoke blouses and dresses for high-end retailers like Tenoversix, Mohawk General Store, and Gratus, Pigna's reputation as a maker of minimal, luxe versions of such classic pieces (button down shirts, tie-front blouses, shift dresses) continued to grow. Considering the fact that she's been featured in publications like Vein, Los Angeles Times, and I-D—which listed her in their "5 Los Angeles Designers You Should Know" feature—we think it's safe to say her star is on the rise.

Having just released her fourth collection—which continues expanded beyond her initial silhouettes—as well as opening up an e-commerce element, where shoppers can purchase made-to-order pieces (a consciously sustainable practice), it felt like the perfect time to get to know a bit more about Pigna, including the iconic actresses she looks to for style inspo and how she's seen fashion evolve in Los Angeles.

Fashion Insiders Pick Fabiana Pigna as the Next Big Thing

Who are some of your all-time fashion inspirations?

It's a mixed bag! I look up to very strong women who manage to have a killer sense of femininity and keep it really simple. I love Isabella Rossellini in her David Lynch period when she was rocking a minimal suit and a sleek short bob. Catherine Deneuve's icy beauty kills me every time as well, and I have a weakness for Almodovar girls in his really campy films of the late 80's early 90's.

You're originally from Venezuela; how do you sum up LA's style and has it changed how you dress or design?

I moved to Los Angeles about 14 years ago and I have to say it used to be a very different place back then. Style here has changed dramatically with the times. I think a lot of people have the perception that LA style is generally very laid back and everyone is wearing cut-offs and a t-shirt, but that's really not the case! Each neighborhood is distinct in its look and style and sometimes it feels like it's one city made up of a million smaller cities.

There's been a resurgence here of dressing up, which I love because there's great empowerment that comes with wearing well-made clothing. It also helps that we have fantastic vintage stores, which had a big effect on my style when I first made the switch from Caracas to LA. Vintage clothing is a phenomenon that did not exist in Latin America until very recently and I think it's still viewed as strange by a lot of people there.

Fashion Insiders Pick Fabiana Pigna as the Next Big Thing

You've already received some great press! Any moments that had you particularly proud?

Getting any press is very flattering and humbling for an emerging designer. On my first season out, Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller took notice and posted a picture on her Instagram wearing one of my blouses. I lost it when I saw that! I had been following the Man Repeller for a long time and I'm a big fan of her knockout eclectic style. I had to pinch myself.

You just launched e-commerce! Was it important to you to make the line accessible to everyone?

Yes! I was receiving a lot of requests for styles that were sold out of stores, and since the line is still very small there is limited accessibility. I decided to open a made-to-order online store because I'm drawn to the old-school atelier way. I don't keep stock, mass production is not my goal. I want you to feel that you are ordering something personal and special, so each piece is handmade to order in Los Angeles.

Where do you go locally to get inspired?

Cliché, I like to go to the museum! Mostly the Norton Simon in Pasadena; there is something very magical about it when you go there on a rainy day. I also love to scan through the Criterion collection on Hulu and pick a random movie, you never know what you're getting yourself into. But in all honesty the most inspiration comes when I sit down in my studio and work, that's when the best ideas come!