San Francisco based designer Denise Ramos is a soft-spoken woman who lets her work do the talking, offering a distinctive point of view.
A recent graduate of Academy of Art University, Ramos is poised to make an impact in the fashion industry. Upon graduating, Ramos got a job in San Francisco, working as an assistant designer at Old Navy. Days spent in the city inspire her to create clothing for the women who live and work here. “[San Francisco] inspires me by the functionality, and seeing what women are doing nowadays. I pay attention to what we need, what we need our clothes to be and even our jobs. I want my client to feel confident and comfortable at the same time. When she puts on my clothes, I want her to think, ‘I feel really bad ass in this.’ I’m inspired by making people feel good.”
Recently, Ramos was selected to showcase a collection as part of the Fashion Future Graduate fashion show, presented by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) at New York Fashion Week. The crisply tailored collection, which featured intricate textiles reminiscent of peeling paint, was inspired by European tailoring and architecture. Its sharp lines and classic silhouettes garnered the attention of Women’s Wear Daily and Vogue Mexico.
Ramos’ design process is cerebral, yet experimental. She makes deliberate design choices, influenced by her lifelong affinity for menswear, along with her experience working alongside a master tailor. She states, “I have always been drawn to men’s clothes and the reason why they construct it the way they do. I wanted to design that way for women. I wanted to make clothes that made sense that were functional and didn’t have things thrown on them just to make them more feminine or make it cliché. I wanted to give them more options and use nicer fabrics.” This aesthetic carried into her collection, “Her Time is Now.”
During visits to two cities in Europe, the collection began to develop. Ramos explained, “Because I love menswear, I went to Savile Row in London, and I was able to talk to the tailors over there. I was really inspired by them, because they really, truly do things for a reason − all their stitching and the seams, all the handwork. I really wanted to incorporate that kind of lost art of hand work into my collection, so that’s why there are a lot of menswear inspired silhouettes.”
While the collection was partially inspired by the TV show “Game of Thrones,” it had as much to do with the location as the characters and the storyline. Choosing to translate the collection rather than creating costume-like period pieces, Ramos used the women of Game of Thrones as a catalyst which led to a cohesive collection of pieces that can be worn by strong women in the modern era. Said Ramos, “After London, I went to Girona Spain, where season 6 of Game of Thrones was filmed. I was inspired by all of the buildings and peeling bricks. It’s not necessarily just the show that inspired me. I was inspired by the strong women who are in it.”
The CFDA fashion show featured work from Ramos and designers from other fashion schools, including Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and the Savannah College of Art and Design, among others. To be considered for the show, Ramos submitted her collection and was selected against hundreds of other applicants. “I was really lucky to be chosen by CFDA, but I did work my butt off. I was fortunate that they saw how much work I put into my collection,” said Ramos.
Fellow designer Jorge “Church” Iglesias collaborated with Ramos on this collection, fabricating textiles that were used to create the looks. For Ramos, the collaborative process is one that she ultimately embraces. She mentions that it was exciting to have someone else involved in the collection who could help brainstorm ideas and talk through questions.
Although she is a relative newcomer to the fashion industry, Denise Ramos is ready to earn a reputation predicated by clean lines and tailoring. She considers all aspects of clothing from form to function, ready to create wardrobe staples for modern women in San Francisco and beyond.
// Photography by: Jen Miyako McGowan, Model: Sarah Noel for Stars Management, Art Direction + Styling by: Krystyn Nakamura, Hair + Makeup by: Tara Marshell Escobedo, Designer: Denise Ramos, Textile Designer: J. Church Iglesias.