Text & Photography: Daniel Sogunro
Energetic, whimsical & unconventional. After a few moments around Yaramo Dione, these are probably the words that immediately come to mind. Currently a Junior in Social & Decision Sciences, with an additional major in Creative Writing, Yaramo is brimming with excitement at the possibility of following up her design debut at next year’s SFS 31. We sat down at Mudge Mansions to catch up with her about her inspirations, passion for design and her experiences with last year’s show.
The deadline for designer & boutique submissions (December 18th) for SFS 31 is soon approaching. Find out more about possibly designing for one of Pittsburgh’s premiere fashion shows here.
So, Yaramo, tell us about yourself.
I was born here [the United States] then I left at 18 months for Conakry, Guinea. I grew up with my aunt as my mom basically... well all of my aunts really. Everything was very family oriented. There were some points during that time that were pretty difficult and my line will be reflecting one of them. Umm... I came back here around 7 or 8 to continue my education here and went back when school was closed and I haven’t been back since like two years before the whole Ebola thing.
That definitely sounds like an interesting cultural upbringing. Before we get too much into your line for this year, tell us a bit about how you got started designing?
Ahhh... when I was a little girl, whenever I got dolls as a gift, my mom used to make me keep them in the box, so I couldn’t open them until I was older. It was kind of sad. I would always think up all the ways I could dress them up if I got to play with them. Eventually, some time in Elementary school, I’d tell my mom to do some crazy stuff to my clothing and she’d hook me up. I’d be like “Mom could you attach some african fabric for a ruffle effect on a jean skirt” and she’d do it. I thought I was mad cute… I was.
Your mom sounds dope. Would you say she’s one of your biggest fashion inspirations?
Definitely. She’s lit! She focuses on the little things, and the way she sews clothes is very practical. She doesn’t use like patterns so she can change them easily. Whenever people would come into the store and try on the stuff she made for them, they would look so happy. I wanted to give that same feeling to other people.
How have you managed to translate this first-hand exposure from a young age to your current design process?
I’m really just inspired by the things I see around me throughout the day. I try to translate the sensations they give me into my clothes if that makes sense. Depending on what whatever I see evokes in me, I’ll try to represent it in the best way that I can whether it’s a literal definition or not. I find that my most favorite outfits happen when I put together clothes that I feel accurately display how I’m feeling, whether it be through the design itself, the colors or a combination of both, so I try to do the same thing with my designs.
I think that my background in poetry helps with the interpretation of what my inspiration evokes as well. I’m already in the mindset of show, don’t tell, when it comes to my artsy things I guess.
Quick, plug your poetry…
How exciting was it to get on stage for the first time last year at SFS 30?
It was a pretty interesting experience. That semester was one of my hardest for many reasons, so although the line was very time consuming, it became a kind of escape from all the other stuff I was doing. I found myself lost in what my clothes were becoming through my hands a lot and that feeling was superb.
We could definitely tell. You were cheesing pretty hard when all was said & done. What was your inspiration behind your line, Assimilation?
I wanted to expose the female form in a nice, unique way. So I sought to do this with as many different fabrics as I could. Basically, reveal as much of the female form as possible in various ways.
Photography: Andrew Lee
Photography: Aaron Friedlander
Now back to what you alluded to earlier: What can we expect to see from you this year? And how has your background influenced what's to come?
That heat 🔥. Ha. But nah, I guess the cool intersection of graphic arts, poetry, and clothing, as well as how they can all deliver the same message but do it in different ways.
In terms of drawing from my culture, umm well, there are certain traditions that are questionable and having gone through them and being surrounded by people who considered them the norm, it never really gave me the chance to work through how they’ve affected me so I wanted to try to do it through writing and translate that into designs.