Fioravanti – Dressmakers

Fiavoranti_0001     Fioravanti is a couture clothing store and studio in Beacon Hill where Mia Fioravanti and her daughter Wysdom design and sew pieces meant to endure. “I am not interested in trends.” Says Mia. “I think it’s important to be on some sort of trend so that your stuff is relevant and modern and someone will want to wear it. The thing about us is, we are much more interested in something that lasts. That is one thing I have always tried to stay true to.”Fiavoranti_0002     Their studio is filled with pieces that have a timelessness about them, from classic sleeveless black dresses to sheer navy ponchos and impeccable white button-downs.Fiavoranti_0003     The duo will soon be moving to a space down the street on Beacon Ave. where they will quadruple their space. “We are looking to create more of a lifestyle store rather than just clothing, so we are going to have other people’s work, we’re going to have events, and I’m looking for artists, photographers, people like that who want to do shows. I have three people slated to do shows and art openings once a month, so it’s going to be a much more dimensional kind of place.”Fiavoranti_0004     Mia Fioravanti taught herself to sew at age 8. Daughter to a father who ran a woolen mill in the Midwest, Fioravanti was introduced to the family business lifestyle at a young age. “I went to art school and was doing graphic design and advertising, and I hated it so I went back to sewing.” While working with a dry cleaner in Denver, Fioravanti brushed up on her sewing skills, then spent a year apprenticing with a woman from Russia who specialized in couture. With intermittent careers as a stylist and a Waldorf teacher, Fioravanti is now running her business on Beacon Hill with her daughter Wysdom, who graduated in May with a bachelors degree in technical design.

“As far as fashion goes, that’s kind of a funny word to define, but I feel that I’ve always been a dress maker. I’ve always done lots of couture work, that’s my background – making everything kind of hand made and now we have a manufacturer who’s doing some of the work and we’re doing some of the work.

I don’t know where we’re heading with all of that but we kind of pride ourselves on being part of slow fashion and slow clothing, kind of similar to slow food, we want to do creative work, but we also have a baseline. We have a line of clothing and then from there we’re doing some one-of-a kind pieces, or three-of-a kind.”Fiavoranti_0009Fiavoranti_0014     Wysdom grew up around design and sewing then went on to study the more technical side of the craft. “I’m trying to get experience but I’m also leading the technical part because she [Mia] is not very technical. That’s a challenge, because I don’t know everything, I just know a little bit. Coming straight from school and jumping into this business is pretty major, but it has allowed me to do so much. Working with pattern making, making things from scratch and seeing something finished that I made the pattern for, is pretty amazing.”

Mia freely expresses the benefits of working with someone who has a different background than herself. “I’m not interested in doing this by myself anymore. At one time I was like, ‘I’ll just do it all’, and it just doesn’t work. There has to be collaboration. I feel like when Wysdom came along it was right on time because I don’t know how much longer I would have been able to sustain it by myself. We have a really great team effort going on here, and it’s been really great having a person coming right out of school who has fresh perspectives and fresh ideas, and is from a different generation, you know, it’s very important.”Fiavoranti_0018           The Fioravantis are quite the creative household. Their oldest daughter Julia is an artist as well and often models the Fioravanti line. Their closeness as a family and common ground as artists eliminates the need to sugar coat their opinions about one another’s work. Wysdom says of working with her mother, “She has more super creative craziness sometime and I’m more of the editor. I say no a lot, and it works because we’re family so we can be honest. We care about each other’s feeling but we get over things really quickly.”

Likewise, Mia says Wysdom often makes their work stay true to the idea. “I feel like I’m being parented sometimes, but it’s okay, because Wysdom’s got a lot of grounding and I don’t, so this way we stay on track. It’s good to have someone really different from you who holds you accountable.”

The Fioravanti’s shared reverence for the combination of good design and artistic sensibility shows in their work. “When you’re coming from a design point of view rather than a trend point of view, that is a guiding principle, so, no matter what you do, it is relevant if you’re coming from a good design and understanding the artistic composition. Composition is composition. There are rules to it and if you master them and you understand them, then you can break the rules and start making your own.” Watching the two work together in their studio, it seems that Wysdom may be teaching her mother new rules, but that Mia is undoubtedly passing on the invaluable artistry of a lifetime of dressmaking.


What Makes You Feel Beautiful.

I recently did a freelance job that I enjoyed immensely. The project was about diverse visions of beauty, so I went to the streets in Seattle, mainly downtown and Capitol Hill, and took portraits of passers by and asked them the question, “What makes you feel beautiful?”

Here are a few of my favorites. 

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Jesse Duvall – Whatever is going on in my head makes me feel beautiful. (Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Kenneth Loiseau – Acceptance of weirdness makes me feel beautiful.                            Annabelle Petry – Brushing my teeth makes me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Lady Krishna – Externally accessories make me feel beautiful, like this hat and my glasses. Really, my internal self makes me feel beautiful, my inner life.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)James Smith – What makes me feel beautiful is my personality.          Calen Osara – What makes me feel beautiful is when I’m complemented.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Elsa Bloedon – Being in the sun makes me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Stella Constellation – The thing that makes me feel beautiful is my contour. And my heels, a girl always feels pretty with a contour and some heels.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Amanda Sloan – My outfits make me feel beautiful. I design my own stuff, so I like to design things to fit my body, and it makes me feel comfortable.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Dennis Saxman – The absence of a mirror makes me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Julius Haywood- What makes me feel beautiful is my nice teeth and my hair.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Antoinette O’neill -What makes me feel beautiful is my accomplishments, big and small.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Dean Stepanek – My wife makes me feel beautiful. My beautiful wife, every day.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Kasey Atabniki – Feeling strong and comfortable makes me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Vanitti Fair – My friends make me feel beautiful. I think the attitude of the people you surround yourself with can either make or break a person.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Yuya Izumi – I am a Buddhist, I think feeling empty makes me actually feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Rebecca – My shoes.                                              Somaya – My surroundings make me feel beautiful. I try to find something beautiful wherever I am.                                 Shelby  – My shiny earrings make me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Breckenridge Lanning – A theme to an outfit makes me feel beautiful, like dressing to go to school and wearing glasses, superfluous glasses, but wonderful none the less.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Reiko –  I feel beautiful when I’ve had a few beers with my friends.                                                                  Mio Sei – Music, I feel beautiful at concerts

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Tracy Healy – My red hair makes me feel beautiful.

17James_GrattonJames (Jimbo) Gratton – Being acknowledged makes me feel beautiful.

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Chase Roselli – What makes me feel beautiful? Her.                        Sam Buchanan – Clean teeth make me feel beautiful. I have a thing about teeth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Chase, “Oh yeah, that’s her to a T.”)

(Photo by Viola J. Gaskell)Nate B. – Button up shirts make me feel beautiful because I feel clean and ready for the day, like I can get things done.





A few weeks ago I did a shoot with this lovely girl, and I’ve been quite behind on my editing. Here are a dozen or so pictures I took a liking to. The theme was supposed to be black and white.. Apparently I like color too much to do that in Fashion. I believe it was her first time modeling. Thanks Cathy VB!