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Conversations with Lily Marotto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lily Marotto.

Hi Lily, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
From a very young age, I wanted to change something. I remember my grandmother sitting next to my bed and reading with me Gianni Rodari’s Le avventure di cipollini. At that time, I couldn’t understand the plot of the book and how it is was talking about the separation of the society and their struggles. The way the main character was passionate about injustice, I was impassioned with costumes in the book illustrations. My parents were not pleased that I had taken my crayons during the night and redesigned all the costumes. I had this grand desire to make every personage look beautiful and correspond to its spirit.

Since that day, my passion for fashion design and art has only increased. I was born in the Soviet Union in the beginning of Perestroyka. For the young kid, it was pretty confusing watching how habitual ways of living were constantly changing, how people mimic Western lifestyle and how chaotic everything was around me. It made me and my imagination even stronger and more creative. At the age of seven, I first went with my family to the Czech Republic, where we stayed quite a bit. It was a huge cultural difference, but I quickly adjusted. Later in my life, I understood how much impact the different varieties of life perceptions influenced my designs.

In University, I studied the Economics of Intellectual Property and Psychology, but my true passion for fashion never changed. I then worked as a Brand Manager for multiple international fashion brands. I liked it, but it wasn’t a creative enough position for me.

After moving to the USA, I first completed education as a fashion stylist and color analyst (AICI certified) and then enrolled in an Apparel Design and Merchandising program in California. Just before graduation, I had my first runway show in San Francisco and realized that I found my path in life.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
In fashion, sometimes luck plays a large role in accelerating things. There are examples when a designer was in the right place, in the right moment. For everyone else, there’s a lot of competition and a lot of hard work ahead. I am extremely grateful for all the support of my husband, family and friends, but it is extremely hard to get noticed.

The main struggles have been in finding people with the right skills who can work with delicate fabrics like silk and the logistics of working with factories with low minimums. Beyond those, finding the time to focus on marketing campaigns and competing with other brands for attention.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I have a very wide array of styles I can create, but I mostly focus on custom-printed silk garments and Couture gowns. Every garment is really unique because we actually create all the prints for my collections. We print in-studio on natural textiles, but mostly it is silk-based fabrics. We own a huge Japanese digital fabric printer and can print anything our customers or we would like. I have participated in many fashion weeks and events – showcased multiple times in NYFW, LAFW and Paris FW. I am very proud to dress girls for Beauty Pageants and won several awards for “Best Gown”.

My garments are unique – in each of them, I am telling a story by the color combination, extremely complicated construction and delicate decorative details. I am known for the best quality of silk garments, casual corset dresses, and the comfort of my Couture gowns. As a woman, I understand how important it is to not just look beautiful but to feel so. Every garment I make is made with lots of love and care.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
When Covid-19 started, we all needed to adjust. The store where I was selling my garments was closed for many months, all the shows and design competitions were canceled. I needed to close my design studio and freeze all the projects. The big fashion competition I was preparing for was postponed for a year. It was a time when no one had a good idea of what was going to happen with the industry now.

But I learned something new and had a very cool experience by being part of the Fashion Movie, “Pivot in the Pandemic”. I showcased my Couture collection and my team created unique hand-embroidered masks for each look. The movie was shown at a drive-in movie theater in Santa Clara, California.

For me as a designer, it was a twisting point when I realized that previously I underestimated the power of video campaigns and digital Fashion shows. I wasn’t that focused on it because usually, people fall in love with my designs by touching them, seeing them in real life and feeling how it embraces them with comfort and uniqueness. Times have changed and there are always new goals to achieve.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

1. Photo by Eugene Polyak @eugenepolyak, model Deja Nichole @dejanichole 2. Photo by Lance Miller @@jl_photographydesign, model Jade Jet’aime Augustina @jadejetaimexoxo 3. Photo by Alex Matt @alxmatphotography, model Zeyna @zeynaaa_ly 4. Photo by Eugene Polyak @eugenepolyak, designer Lily Marotto @lilymarotto and her models at NYFW 5. Photo by Eugene Polyak @eugenepolyak, model Daphne P. @daphne_1111 6. Photo from ArtHearts NYFW, model Chioma Obiegbu, @dreyafrica 7. Photo by Eugene Polyak @eugenepolyak, model Natalia Miller 8. Photo by Roy Antanzo @royantanzo, model Julie Matthews, @julie_matthews

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