This article was originally published in the August issue of An Extra Shot. To enjoy the entire issue for free, download your e-version here.
I was given the task of decoding the brilliant mind of Maira Jimena, creator of a new studio in the heart of Miraflores. A place unlike any other, the Maira Jimena studio is aimed at introducing techniques and skills that can be appreciated by anyone in the field of art and design.
The face behind the name greeted me with a disarming smile. As she took us on a tour the warmth that radiated from her friendly, outgoing demeanor was mirrored in every way to that of her studio and atelier from the high ceilings and handcrafted wood details, to the carefully planned architectural design that allowed natural light to stream in from every side.
Although new to the local fashion scene, she carries a whirlwind of experience under her belt. Her studies have taken her to some of the best fashion schools in the world, including Parsons School of Design in New York, and Central Saint Martins in London, doing serious work with major giants in the industry that is sure to make any aspiring designer envious to the bone.
She showed us some of her previous work which consisted of a colorful complex series of intricate weavings, Japanese dyeing techniques with playful designs that come to life, and her knitwear collection that sat on display in the famed Saks Fifth Avenue store.
As she spoke passionately about her life and plans in the industry, her vision was clear. She is slowly breaking through the old fashioned, culturally-bent ice of what is the typical Lima fashion scene and helping to bring a fresh approach to art.
What got you into fashion?
Fourteen years ago fashion here was very cultural and undeveloped. To say you wanted to be a fashion designer was like opting for a low-level job. I studied at the Roosevelt high school here and for my thesis I chose art, based on textile communities in the jungle. That was where it all began, the start of my love for art.
What were your studies like?
Well, my parents were against my becoming a fashion designer. They saw no future in it. They pushed me to study economics. I got accepted into Harvard and studied economics for a year, but I hated it. I had a collection of 22 paintings which I had put together and, without my parents knowing, I used those paintings to apply for the Parsons School of Design in NY, and got accepted.
How did you get eventually into teaching?
My first teaching experience came when I was asked to teach fashion at Parsons Paris, and I absolutely loved it. I loved teaching, guiding and sharing everything I know. When I came to Peru, teaching was my first option. I had many offers from big schools here, but when I was presented with the teaching syllabus it was just so opposite to everything I learned. There were so many restrictions and limitations. Too many limitations don’t allow creation.To get to know the fashion industry I took a job at ModArt, because I felt they pushed the most creativity out of all the schools.
Tell me about your studio. What made you decide to open one?
While working in ModArt I started a seminar called “Fashion in the age of technology”. It was a big hit and we repeated the seminar 4 or 5 times! That’s when I decided to create my own studio with different designers who offer workshops with very straightforward information students will need in the industry. I bought some space and made the decision to build it from top to bottom. Every little detail is my design. I wanted it to be aesthetic and minimalistic; modern with a handcrafted feeling.
The courses you teach aren’t something you’d find in a fashion school here. Can you tell me a bit about that?
I teach a bit of everything. I teach marbling design where students can learn different kinds of dyeing with fabrics, Japanese dyeing techniques, ice dyeing with crystals, textile art, experimental draping etc. We also teach digital fashion and we have a new course called 3D fashion. You can design your own accessories and print it in 3D. It will be really cool! We also help students create fashion portfolios for their thesis or masters.
And who are these courses for? Is it just for fashion students?
No. It is open to anyone who is passionate about design. We have both older and younger students and not all of them are in fashion school or aspiring designers. Some classes do have a base in fashion, but most of them can be applied to any field in art. Our studio’s slogan is “Nothing is constant” and that’s how I feel about my work. I like to let things flow.
Maira Jimena Studio
Calle Chiclayo 563, Miraflores