DESIGNER PROFILE – NINA DORNHEIMviews: 0
What should everyone know about you?
ND: I am a creative thinker with extensive experience in Women’s RTW and lingerie. I started my first job as a designer for the Zara group (Inditex) in Spain. In 2009, I moved to NY and worked for prestigious ready-to-wear fashion brands like Kiki de Montparnasse, Proenza Schouler, Jill Stuart and others. I currently work as a design and trend consultant in NYC.
How would you describe what you do?
ND: I design and develop collections from concept to final garment. My specialties are trend forecasting and innovative design concepts for soft wovens and cut & sew knits. I also work with the more technical aspects of actually getting samples made and I constantly communicate with local and overseas factories.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
ND:As a child, I was fascinated by my uncle’s garment factory in rural Germany where I first learned about the complexity of clothing production. I loved to sit hours next to Hildegard who would sew on buttons with this big machine. When I thought about a profession, I wanted a job where I would work with my hands and that would be different every day.
What steps did you take to become a designer?
ND: As a teenager, I interned with the pattern maker at my uncle’s garment factory and I took sewing and drawing classes. I studied fashion design in Berlin and interned at the state theater at the same time. I was very fortunate to get a glimpse of this incredible craft from a passionate men’s tailor with over 50 years experience. As part of my studies, I moved to Italy for fashion internships for six months. After I finished college, I moved to Spain to work for the Zara group.
Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
ND: The best part of my job is when I can see the final result of my work on the runway or in the store. It is really satisfying after months of hard work. The most challenging part is to design clothes with a positive impact on people and the planet.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
ND:When I finished school, I prepared my applications to become a chef, but I decided not to send them out. I still love cooking and I could also imagine being a landscape designer, I love gardening. Or maybe a translator. It is fascinating when you learn a language; you really learn so much about the culture as well.
How did you get started in design?
ND: My first collection was an investigation of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi and was about the beauty of patina and aging materials. The collection was draped with deconstructed vintage pieces and was presented at a collective fashion show in Berlin.
What do you like about what you do?
ND: I love investigating different cultures, time periods, art, architecture, photography and handcrafts. All these influences inspire me to come up with innovative design concepts and techniques.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
ND: I think people who don’t work in the industry cannot even begin to imagine the complexity of what it takes to design and produce clothing. There are so many components of each piece of clothing and so many different people involved who are all in different parts of the world. The work involves more management and communication skills than people might think.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
ND: I see myself working for an ethical and ecologically conscious fashion brand. I believe fashion can and should have a positive impact on the environment.
What sparked your interest in design?
ND: As a teenager, I remember coming across this absolutely amazing Martin Margiela coat during at trip to London with my family. It was a down duvet with just a few seams to create sleeves, it even kept the original label of the duvet. It was such a simple idea, so ironic and so effective. I love his work and he definitely inspires me until today.
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
ND: My designs have become more focused and refined. My workflow has become more effective and streamlined through experiences of what works best and how to achieve it.
Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
ND: I only buy high quality and mostly fashion essentials that will last for many years. I try to buy ethically and ecologically produced clothing and vintage.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
ND: I am fascinated by brands like Edun and Maiyet. Their effort to produce ethically with artisans in developing countries makes their product so special and promotes crafts that might be in danger of dying out. I am also inspired by brands with an eco-friendly production as the reformation and Organic by John Patrick. I believe these brands are the future.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
ND: Always trust your instinct and say what you honestly think. Listen to people with more experience, but also question them.
What advice would you give to young designers?
ND: Work hard and learn as much as you can. Try out different categories and markets and reevaluate your career regularly.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
ND: I am interested in working with more ethically and eco-friendly fashion brands.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
ND: I believe in Karma. How you treat other people will eventually come back to you in one way or another.
What’s your motto?
ND: Life is short. Enjoy what you are doing every day.
I am a senior designer with 10 years of design and development experience in Europe and NY. I have designed for large retailers like Zara or Joe Fresh as well as high-end Ready to Wear brands like Proenza Schouler, Kiki de Montparnasse or Jill Stuart. I have also worked for small contemporary lines like a private label for Saks Fifth Avenue as well as a startup by Designer Cynthia Steffe. Most recently, I have designed an eco-conscious Ready to Wear collection based on vintage pieces called studio-842.
My specialty is soft dressing, especially, woven and cut & sew knit dresses, tops, skirts, and pants.
I am strong in the creative field of research and design and I have also proven my technical understanding by developing sample collections as well as my organizational and management skills in leading small teams.