Nomia designer Yara Flinn has become a hot fixture on the New York fashion week calendar after she began showing just 2 years ago. Her slick, edgy designs have become staple pieces in many an it-girl’s wardrobe. Flinn was kind enough to arrange time to get in some interview questions in before her big show. We got to talking about art, marketing and cool girls.
You have an educational background in art. What made you decide on fashion design as a career?
While I was in college I was studying art but I was also experimenting with fashion but in a very conceptual way, making handmade pieces and just messing around. In fact, I even staged a runway show but it was more about a live video projection thing. I was always interested in fashion but I didn’t feel comfortable doing it since I didn’t have a formal background. I didn’t really pursue it until after I graduated and I was working at the Fondazione Prada and I was applying for MFA programs because I really wanted to keep doing art. I didn’t get into any of the schools that I wanted to go to, so I thought I’d try the fashion side. I took the time to make a few pieces and I bought some patterns and tinkered with some of them a bit. Eventually I took pattern making classes at FIT, so I could actually make my patterns. It’s expensive to have patterns made. I thought it was worth the investment for me to learn how to make them myself. I’m more of a process driven person, so I found that the method of draping was something that I really responded to because it helped me visualize what I wanted to make while I was putting it together. So that’s how that happened. It was all by accident in a way, as things often are.
You have a somewhat minimalistic aesthetic which is a huge trend right now. Do you feel as if people who haven’t seen your work before and consider it as being trend-based might categorize you that way?
I think that that’s partially it. If you’re a smaller, younger designer, people assume that you’re going to be influenced by a lot of bigger designers anyway. You can’t really deny what’s around you. So I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t affect me but at the same time I could never ever imagine myself making anything with ruffles, layers, and big skirts. I think everyone has their own tastes and I’ve always been more drawn to a minimal aesthetic. My favorite designer of all time is Helmut Lang. What I like about Helmut Lang more than what his aesthetic was or what his designs were is the concept of making utilitarian things. Combining a look with sportswear, that’s something I’ve always admired and always thought was asuch a smart thing to do, especially for a New York kind of woman. You’re on the go, you’re walking, you’re running around doing things. I feel like it’s a city where the more effortless you look, the better.
Where does the name of your label come from?
The name ‘Nomia’ is the name of a Greek nymph. Partially the reason I chose it at first was because I didn’t really feel comfortable using my own name, and my name is also the name of a Brazillian mermaid. I thought it would be kind of cool to do a play within that realm. A nymph is attractive, powerful and has all these qualities. Generally I didn’t want something that people would know exactly what it was at first. It’s a little mystery. A nymph is kind of like a woman who has powers to lure and attract, a bit crazy. Not exactly what I hoped for my girl to be like. But sometimes the crazier something is, the better.
If you had an opportunity to change something in the fashion industry, what would it be?
New York is an amazing place to be a young designer because the garment district is really, truly accessible for almost anyone who wants to try something out. I think there are a lot of resources that are really great and that are so accessible to anyone. What I come back to and what I really love is just making things, and sometimes it’s a little hard when you always have to be thinking about promoting yourself with marketing and press etc. You wish your product could just stand on its own and do well because it stands out.
Do you find the marketing and press aspect of it all where it gets really competitive?
I have a really great press agent who is a friend of mine and is awesome because he works with a lot of emerging designers. For us it’s hard to still break through in some way. It’s starting to happen more now but I’ve been around for 4 years. We only really started showing two years ago. That made a difference. It’s expensive. I’ve been really lucky to have various sponsorships and opportunities for putting on a show. It’s a very limiting factor for a designer that’s just trying to come out, doesn’t have backing, doesn’t have money from somewhere. So it’s hard because in order to make that splash you have to come out really strong.
You were saying that you worked at Fondazione Prada which is a contemporary art space owned by Prada. Did you find that influential?
Art is still one of my primary influences. One of the encouraging things for me was when I was going into fashion as someone who wanted to be an artist, it was a hard leap for me to make because of lot of art people look down on fashion in a way. You think “I’m going to be commercial, I’m going to be making these things” but the art world is just as commercial as the fashion world, if not more. It’s just more veiled. I think the fact that fashion is so overtly commercial is actually kind of freeing for me. Because I do want to make something that people want to buy to make girls feel pretty in, I want make them feel good. It’s also accessible enough on a price point that my friends can get it. So the fact that I was at Fondazione Prada and that they had an art foundation and such a deep commitment to contemporary art, supporting a lot of emerging artists made me think you don’t have to give up one thing and forget it. That was definitely cool.
If you could dress anyone you know throughout history, any time any place who would it be?
Georgia O’Keefe would be awesome. She was the inspiration for my last collection. I don’t think she would have actually worn anything, though. I was more inspired by her color palette. She had pretty cool style with the hats and the long skirts.