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How Technology and Family Inspires Jessica Rubinstein’s Senior Collection

After a successful final critique and a few days before Jury, senior fashion major Jessica Rubinstein found time to discuss her entire process on working with acrylics and how her twin brother, Jonathan, inspired her to incorporate technology in her collection. Although her biggest struggle was working with acrylics, in the end, they proved to be her favorite material in her collection.

I just want to start by getting to know you a little bit. Tell me a little about yourself.
Okay, so, I am from Venezuela. I have a twin brother who is also in SCAD. I am super interested in evening wear; and since I was little, I was so into fashion and around [the age] of four my mom stopped buying me clothes. She always told me, “Omg. I can not do it. You are super picky, so you go and you will buy your things.” So then my brother and I moved here. We live together and we basically work as a team. This collection is all about him.

What inspired your collection?
When my brother and I first started to talk about senior, I told him, “I really want to include you, because you are my twin and you are a very important part of me.” So we were just talking and, well, we really wanted to do something with technology, because we are super technological people. We then mentioned how we wanted to incorporate technology into the garments when we started researching, we found out that it is super hard to include technology because it takes time and we just have ten weeks to produce everything. So then we start thinking why don’t we use technology to create the garments because that’s going to be the future. Then we started to test things. So the collection is called 2121 because we are twins, and the 21st is the day we were born and it also represents the future. So basically he inspired me. Twins, connection, future, technology.

Who do you design for? Who’s your customer?
Well, that’s an interesting question [we laugh], because right now, I think whoever wants to wear my things. I think more like famous people because you can’t wear it daily, because I have these acrylics and it’s not washable or whatever so you can’t just go to a movie and wear it and be cool. So it’s basically if you go to a red carpet, it will be a wow piece because it’s something super unusual. [So overall,] yes, famous people, going to a red carpet or a really formal event around the age of 18 to 30.

What was your favorite part of the design process?
Everything. [laughs]

I have talked to other people and they say concept and researching.
Well, researching was super cool. First, I was all over the place, and then during winter break, I interned for Merline Labissiere. She was once a SCAD student and graduated 2011, and she was in project runway. She helped me a lot and it was a fun process we were like why don’t you include this and that. Then Jonathan and I started to do the silicone and dragon skin and that’s how everything started to take shape. I think the best part was making it– all the acrylics– since my collection is all about technology and using technology. So when I laser cut it and printed it, then engraved it. I also transfer all my patterns to the computer, you could see it taking shape. Then I was like wow I put an acrylic there and it looks like wow, amazing. So, making everything was my favorite part.

Did you encounter any challenges while working on this collection? And if so, how did you overcome them?
Everything. Oh my god… [we laugh]

So, first, making just one concept was super hard. I was all over the place, like all over. I wanted to do everything, and then I started to refine. And, finally, I got to a concept. But the hardest part was making the garments. As I said, I printed, laser cut, engraved, and then placed the acrylics. So, first, I laser cut the acrylic into little pieces, then my brother made this layout thing to place them on the flatbed at Fahm Hall and printed them in different values of blue; but two weeks before final critique, I went to Fahm and they told me that the Flat Bed was broken and it was going to be fixed in two weeks because they needed to order a new piece since a piece broke. And my reaction was just like oh no no this is my senior; and if I don’t have that, I don’t have a senior [collection]. So, of course, I was freaking out.

The first thing I did was call my dad and I was like Dad I don’t know what I’m going to do. He told me that “I was gonna be able to do so something and we were gonna figure it out, but I needed to be calm.”

So, my jewelry collaborator, who graduated last year, Jocelyn Desisto, is 3D printing all my jewelry. She gave me the idea of dying the acrylics, and my thought was “How are we going to dye acrylics? It’s going to be super hard.” I bought some materials and we dyed the whole thing and then laser cut them so we did the opposite thing that we were doing before, and because of that, we have two different colors. It was amazing I definitely loved the process. If I have to do it again, I’ll dye them.

What are the main materials in this collection and how did you like working with them?
Well, obviously the white fabric which is double-faced Duchesse satin. It looks so beautiful, but it is so hard because it stains so easily. For fittings, I put muslin underneath the long skirt or paper or I made my models stand on the garment bag while I put the garment on. It’s a challenge working with white, but worth it.

Then the acrylics and PVC are the last thing and are only in one look which creates a mix of streetwear and evening wear. The acrylic was definitely the favorite material because it creates a connection between the present and the future. The simple and basic shapes represent the present and the material represents the future since it’s an unexpected material to use in garments and the future is always super unexpected.

Who else are you collaborating with besides your brother?
Well, my brother, Jocelyn Desisto for jewelry, Christina Garcia for accessories. She is doing my shoes and her shoes for her senior, so basically two collections; because in accessory they do six products for senior and she’s doing five for me. Yesterday, in final critique, they loved them, they were like “Wow you also have shoes,” and I also had a bag that my brother made, but it’s a finalist for a competition, so right now it’s in New York, but, yeah, it’s so sad because I want that bag. I begged my brother not to send it.

What music do you listen to while you work?
Everything. Latin music, pop music, but mostly latin music. I mean I am Latina and I love latin music. [she laughs]

If you weren’t majoring in fashion design at SCAD, what would you be doing?
Oh, that’s hard. I don’t see myself doing anything else than this. I mean I tried accessory design, but I dropped it. I liked it but it’s not my thing because it’s super industrial and I am super meticulous and I love paying attention to detail. I am a perfectionist and you can’t have that in accessory.

Do you have any fears about entering the industry?
Yes, a lot first I am international so it is hard to find something and I don’t think I am super well prepared. Well, yes, I mean I did four years of art and fashion, but I want to learn more. If I find a job and start working I am going to learn more, but its super scary, super scary.

Do you have any advice for younger fashion design students?
Do what you want to do. Yes, they have to listen and take all the advice but they should listen to themselves first. Sometimes professors tell you to change your idea because they think it’s not going to work and that happened to me during Senior I, they told me that I could not do it because it was not going to work and I was like I am going to do it because I can. So, believe in yourself, do what you love.

Editor’s Note: Ka’Dia Dhatnubia is responsible for the development of these interview questions.

Written by Laura Ramirez
Photos by CoCo Hubbeling