Tomorrow, Genevieve Primavera will be showing it’s Spring 2008 Collection at San Francisco Fashion Week. Mary Elizabeth Primavera first made contact with The Coveted in response to the blogger controversy and invited us along into SF Fashion Week. Here she let’s us in on her thoughts about fashion, family, and overcoming chanllenges… The Coveted: What have you been obsessing lately? Mary Elizabeth Primavera: Jumping in the car and escaping up the coast of Northern California for a week just to relax, unwind, and bask in the glory of the beautiful scenery.
TC: What does an average day look like?
MEP: On average, between maternal duties (cooking, cleaning, laying down the law), and running my business, I usually work pretty late and get up early every morning.
The Coveted: What have you been obsessing lately?
Mary Elizabeth Primavera: Jumping in the car and escaping up the coast of Northern California for a week just to relax, unwind, and bask in the glory of the beautiful scenery.
I live in the South Bay where I am raising my three teenage children, two of which I home-school through a wonderful Alternative Family Education program. So, during the school year, early mornings are spent going over their assignments, reviewing their work, and having discussions about what they are studying. This has probably been the most enriching and inspiring experience, not just for my kids, but for me, as well. Because it keeps me in that youthful and creative mind set. I usually head up to my design studio in San Francisco later in the morning and get to sketching, sewing, or pattern drafting, whatever the day’s itinerary is. Or on other days, I work from home taking care of the more mundane administrative tasks of running a business. What is nice about owning my own business and educating my children, is that it gives us a little more freedom. There are some days we can spend up in Santa Cruz on the beach, them doing school work, me sketching and planning. Whatever the day brings me its always exciting. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
TC: Your interest in sewing came at an early age, as a child sewing clothes for you dolls. But this is your second career, your first in graphic design… why did you come back to fashion? Are there elements of graphic design in your collections?
MEP: I always planned on coming back to fashion. At the time, when I chose Graphic Design, it was for the same reason so many other artists do. It just seemed like a rational decision in a career choice that offered more stability with less start-up capital. That was a time in my life when my marriage was ending, I had two additional children (my step-daughters) to raise as well as my biological three. So, with five children to raise and support, it was just a logical decision at the time. And it served its purpose well.
It’s funny, when I was in college, people used to tell me that they could see more fashion influence in my graphics assignments. Now that I am in fashion, I suppose you can see graphics influences in my fashion. However, I don’t know that it is all really that black and white. I think you can just see me in whatever artistic outlet it may be. We all have our own deeply imprinted signature style. Mine tends to have a mixture of the architectural structure and mathematical reason, against my romanticized ideologies kind of yin and yang.
TC: What was it like starting over? What were some of the challenges you overcame?
MEP: I guess I never looked at any of it as ‘starting over,’ just graduating on to the next phase of my life?a progression. My biggest challenge has always been myself. I tend to have exuberantly high expectations for what I want to accomplish in life. But in the end, if I didn’t, I couldn’t have survived some of the trials I have faced in the past.
TC: It’s been mentioned that your collection reflects personal struggles… your fall collection teeters between the business and artistic aesthetics, almost like the tension of feeling an emotion and presenting a brave face. That’s such an expressive way to look at fashion. What is the process of determining your collections, how intuitive is it?
MEP: I think all art is somewhat autobiographical, whether we mean it to be or not. My first collection was inspired by fairytales. I think because my life has so often reflected one. Really, though, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what we do, the clothes we wear give a lot of insight to our identity. Even if we aren’t trying to ‘express’ anything, per say in the way we dress, we do completely unintentionally. In the past, with the struggles women have made to be taken seriously in business, we have been forced to dress down our personality and femininity and where the proverbial poker face. But, I think times have changed, and we have come out of the closet, so to speak. I think more women are welcoming of a style that reflects confidence and business savvy and yet reveals a spark of life, and a pride in our feminine nature at the same time.
TC: What is your favorite item of clothing?
MEP: My little wool pixie coat. I can where it anywhere, anytime. It is the most comfortable item of clothing I have ever owned (besides my slippers!). I love pieces that look good and make a statement, but are useful. Again, the whole yin and yang thing.
TC: Where can we find you?
MEP: This fall, my collection will appear in Bettina’s in Los Gatos, Dolce Moda in Royal Oak Michigan, Q Boutique in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Bejewel in Houston, Betty Ann in Navato; and Moda Mi in Danville, Istina in Seattle, and Tea Room Boutique in New Jersey