This time last year, designer Maria Stanley took the leap many girls only dream about; she successfully started her own fashion line. Inspired by her “hopeless romantic” tendencies, she seamlessly found a way to blend her love for Victorian excess with that easy, California cool-girl style. Since then, she’s had nothing but praise from respected fashion institutions like InStyle, Vogue and the like. We sat down with Maria to chat about the secrets of being an entrepreneur and how often she finds that clothing can be essential to self-expression.
Describe for us, in one sentence, the vibe of your line:
My collections are real everyday clothes, designed to be worn and loved.
What is your constant inspiration companion? The thing you always find yourself being inspired by? (For me, it’s France and long, boring books.)
The hopeless romantic in me finds a lot of inspiration in antique lingerie and negligees; I have an undeniable love for an unfinished ruffle and a French pin tuck. I’ve always been drawn to and inspired by interesting and sometimes odd uses of color. My boyfriend recently bought me a Georgia O’Keeffe watercolor art book, my next collection is going to have her delicious use of color written all over it!
Do you design things you’d want hanging in your own closet? Or do you design for someone else?
I design for all of the amazing ladies in my life, myself included! I think about what I want to wear, how I want to feel, and I ask the women in my life lots of questions.
Being self-employed seems really hard (lol but like, really tho). How do you keep yourself on-task and not drinking mimosas in the 10AM sunshine everyday? (Unless mimosas fuel your productivity, in which case TELL US YOUR SECRETS)
It really is hard! Some days I want to just lay in bed all day and snuggle with my pup, who is an irresistible cuddle machine and looks really good in a boob t-shirt. Mimosas are a must on photoshoot days, but most days I just drink way too much cold brew. My true secret is to not take it all too seriously (it’s only fashion), remember that I am living the dream I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl, and suck it up and get my sh*t done. And then there are days where I do just lay in bed all day (with my computer close by because I am ALWAYS on call), but I freaking deserve them and enjoy them guilt-free because I work my little tookus off!
Give us a quick outline of how an article of clothing goes from a twinkle in your eye to a physical object on a person’s body.
Oh man, it is quite the process! It’s impossible for me to explain what exactly sparks my twinkle, but it all starts with a color story, a sketch, and a piece of fabric. I design a lot of my own textiles. It then goes to a pattern-maker, sample maker, fitting process, photo shoots, sales, press, production, and finally lands in my one bedroom apartment where I do quality control, pack, and ship to the hands of all you lovely ladies!
In our saturated market, I think a lot of people get stuck thinking “Why me? Why will anyone care what I have to say?”. How do you combat that little inner voice that wants you to be fearful and creatively complacent?
I just turn that little voice off, there’s no use for him. If he ever comes on, I have a glass of wine or two until he goes away.
If you could dress anyone (alive, dead, historical) who would it be?
Clémence Poesy, she’s my ultimate girl crush.
As a designer, can you tell us about a really rewarding career moment?
Anytime I see a woman wearing my clothes it’s the most rewarding feeling I could ever imagine. It makes my heart flutter each and every time.
I feel that now more than ever, it’s important for women to unapologetically take ownership of exactly who they are. As Naomi Wolf says, “we [women] deserve to be sexual and serious and whatever we please”. How do you feel that clothing and personal style can help encourage this?
I 100% agree, it is so important for us women to be exactly who we are, and clothing and personal style can be one of the easiest means of self-expression. My favorite outfit can automatically make me feel like I’m on top of the world and that I can conquer any meeting or feel like a million bucks on date night. My cozy pants, which may not be the most flattering, are the most comfortable things in the planet make me feel strangely sexy. There’s nothing sexier than being comfortable and confident in who you are and with your own personal style.
Fashion and clothing are so often harshly judged by well, just about everyone. What empowering thing do you wish all women knew about getting dressed?
Just be yourself. Be comfortable. Be confident. Dress for you, no one else, just you.