Soriano swears by collaboration: he does all the design work himself but believes that designers should work together to make a greater collective impact on San Diego. He and designer Stacie May both occupy a space on Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp called Industry Showroom, and they are convinced there’s power in numbers.
“My idea,” says Soriano, “is to have an army of fashion designers all working on their designs and helping each other to eventually create an exclusive San Diego line. People are skeptical, but it’s a small community, and we believe that if we work together we can all find success.”
Stacie May recently dyed her hair platinum-blond and cut it in a “Mia Farrow from Rosemary’s Baby” style. She says that her Fashion Week San Diego collection is inspired by the city she loves — San Diego.
“Instead of looking outside of my world, I decided to wander the streets, taking pictures, and really looking at where I live. I found a rich culture, beautiful architecture, and great geometric shapes. I even designed a dress inspired by our convention center.”
After completing her design degree at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 1995, May moved to San Diego. She’s hoping Fashion Week San Diego will show designers that they don’t have to leave the city to find success.
Syncletica Maestras and Aida Soria
San Diego natives Maestras and Soria met 15 years ago while working at the San Diego Zoo gift shop. They will launch their swimwear line Dos Caras at Fashion Week San Diego.
Soria is a voluptuous Latina. She often sports blond hair, high-waisted fitted skirts, girly tops, and platform pumps. A communications grad from San Diego State University, she’s worked for eight years as the morning-segment booker for KUSI TV — Soria is a self-proclaimed social butterfly.
Maestras is a petite, oval-faced Frida Kahlo–like beauty. At San Diego High, she once made a dress out of AstroTurf. She attended San Diego State University and eventually transferred and graduated from the Parsons School of Design.
The two women describe their Champagne Ladies swimwear line as vintage-inspired with a funky, modern twist. Suits are non-traditional, with more coverage than the usual teeny-tiny Brazilian or California styles. They’re made in heavier-weight fabrics. Dos Caras doesn’t shy away from using off-beat details such as fringe, sequins, and beads.
“If you think about Logan Heights and the Chicano bridge [murals] mixed with the sophistication of Coronado, you’ve got the idea,” Maestras says. “Like San Diego, our designs are a great mix of cultures.”
Faulkner wears her auburn hair in bangs. She’s often seen in over-sized sunglasses and loves shirts that allow a shoulder (or two) full exposure.
When she was nine years old, her family’s rented house in Campo exploded and caught fire; the accident was a result of a propane leak and an improper remodel. Her seven-year-old sister died. Faulkner had second-degree burns over 33 percent of her body. She can’t remember the number of surgeries she’s had. The case was settled in 1992, and the family was awarded an undisclosed amount.
“I don’t like to focus on the accident. I’m a happy and upbeat person. But I still have scars and medical issues. I’ve always loved fashion, and, originally, I wanted to design clothing because I was looking for things to cover myself up with — something pretty.”
Her parents didn’t encourage Faulkner to enter the fashion industry. They thought it would be too judgmental about her looks. They insisted that she pursue a business degree. Faulkner attended San Diego State University and graduated with an international business degree in 1999. Seven years later, Faulkner decided to be honest with herself about what she wanted to do with her life.
“I’d had the friendly reminder that life is short. So, at 26, I decided to pursue fashion as a career. I left San Diego and enrolled in the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco. It took time, I had to work, but I graduated in 2011 with a BA in fine art and fashion design.”
Working out of her studio apartment in Los Angeles — she also keeps a place in Mission Bay — Faulkner will preview her first clothing line at Fashion Week San Diego.
Despite the initial desire to create clothes to cover up, her designs are form-fitting, somewhat revealing, and very sexy.
“The stereotype that San Diego style is only laid-back isn’t all true. There are some women who want higher levels of fashion. The internet has globalized fashion in San Diego and everywhere. I hope I can fill a small part of the void.”