When I first met Ambra, she was like a beautiful, unknowable siren. I had lusted after some of her pieces at a distance at Berlin Fashion Week as I spotted her distinctive design amongst the guests at Berlin Fashion Week. When I complemented her on the pullover she was wearing (holding back the urge to rip if off her back and run) I was thrilled to discover that she was the actual designer.
Ambra is Berlin-based, Naples-born and Dominican Republic-raised. She has her own line and also collaborates with others as a costume designer and stylist. Discover some of Ambra’s design and business secrets as we spend a day with her in her Berlin studio together with The Travelling Light:
TELL US ABOUT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE LATEST COLLECTION?
For Spring/Summer 2015 I went back to my life in the Caribbean.
I am a very nostalgic person and enjoy going back in my mind. I started talking to my long-time partner (who happens to be a great writer) about colors and sensations; he came up with a text that helped to shape the mood for the collection. Here it is:
“…sprawled on the whitest beach all day……and a deep hot night to look forward to….but right now the sun went down and salt clings to me in the purplish pink hue, the jet black promise of twilight….shadows along the boardwalks, the palms the women, the dives….Ambra Fiorenza´s Tropical Shadows….green lurex split to let my legs walk sexy and austere…and a pure white jumper in case a soft breeze picks up…..in the thick cigar smoke I know my shadow skirt will work….I let a painter smear my breasts with black paint and tie them with a sash of black and lilac….more rum….and ice cubes…in twilight Tropical Shadows…..by Ambra Fiorenza”
WHAT WAS YOUR PATH OF DEVELOPMENT?
The starting point was when I had a real sense of what I wanted to portray aesthetically.
I listened to my gut and developed to my first collection. It´s an uphill battle to develop a brand. You have to be unique, creative and at the same time find buyers and cover all the expenses and somehow magically keep pushing until all the elements come together.
IF YOU HAD IT ALL TO DO OVER AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
I would take it one step at a time. You have to see your own reality and understand that you have your own path with a unique shape.
What would I change? I would try not to be so impulsive. When the budget is small, any bad choice can tip the boat.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PERSON STARTING A FASHION LABEL?
The best thing is to work for other designers, to get as much information as possible about how to make the right choices. I strongly suggest that you forget the extra degrees and instead take an internship. Ask questions to the designers and listen carefully to their advice.
Focus on applying to contests. It´s a great way to set goals and to realize how big the competition in fashion is.
Build your dream team. Surround yourself with photographers, stylists, makeup artists and generally people that understand your aesthetic.
CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES OF THE UPS AND DOWNS YOU’VE FACED?
Discipline is crucial. When you are your own boss, you have to push yourself all the time. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. I find it very helpful to talk to my friends. They always cheer me up and shake me up!
I want to create new clothes. I can sense that the right thing to do is to keep going, but it´s hard to cover all the costs. It´s a constant battle to make ends meet!
WHAT DO YOU REALLY LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? AND WHAT DRIVES YOU CRAZY?
I love it when all the elements come together. My fabrics turn into outfits, finding the right model that will wear the clothes and represent my vision. To me, that´s the happiest moment.
What drives me crazy? Musicians, models and rappers that launch fashion lines. They have all the things that emerging designers need: money and great PR, but lack the most important thing: talent!
WHAT IS YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE SCANDINAVIAN AESTHETIC?
Clean lines, essential, stylish and sober. Very much on point. Their furniture is always so balanced. Functional and even though it’s minimalist, it always has warmth.
DO YOU AGREE THAT AMBRA FIORENZA IS A “SCANDI DANDY?” WHY OR WHY NOT?
I am honoured to be considered a Scandi Dandy! I think that I can see several items from my work that fit with the Scandinavian aesthetic.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR AMBRA FIORENZA COLLECTION?
I am currently working on my next collection. I am also dabbling with a fellow accessories designer for a possible collaboration. I would like to expand; to reach the Japanese and, of course, the Nordic markets!
Do you want to be our next Scandi Dandy? Get in touch!