Artist Spotlight: An Interview with Fashion Designer Cartier Dior

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Designer Cartier Dior at Utah Fashion Week, next to her model wearing a dress made from satin, tulle, and holiday decorations.

I created On A Hot Wire with other artists in mind. I want to write things they’ll enjoy and relate to, but I’ve always planned to feature their art here, as well. I thought that Cartier Dior, an incredibly talented young fashion designer from my city, would be a great first artist to spotlight on OAHW. She never fails to stun me with her ingenious use of material, creating classy silhouettes and funky details with recycled homework assignments and repurposed home decor. I’m also so inspired by her drive and entrepreneurial spirit; Cartier has already achieved a lot of success in her brief artistic career, and I know she’ll rise to high places. Answers are Cartier’s; questions and bolding are mine.

Introduce yourself!

My name is Cartier Dior and I am a 16 year old fashion designer and model based in Pocatello, Idaho. I specialize in avant-garde and unconventional designs. My specialty is fabric manipulation, which means that I use methods like painting and hand sewing to create one of a kind, custom fabrics.

How would you describe your art form and style?

I create out of the box formal dresses. I like to take classic cuts and manipulate them to make something new and exciting. I also use unconventional materials, like holiday decorations, paper, and plastic, and use them to enhance and design and make it unique.

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Dress made from National Geographic world maps.

What’s your artistic journey been like?

I started designing when I was nine years old, and I am completely self taught. I worked only in unconventional materials until about a year and a half ago. I am still defining my skills in fabric, but I’ve come a long way since making paper dresses. While I still wish I had some formal training, I think that the self taught route has helped me to learn how to use my resources and solve problems creatively.

How do you practice your art?

Toiles. Lots and lots of toiles. A toile is basically a draft of a design that is sewn in muslin or another cheap fabric. When I make a design for a client, I drape an initial pattern, then make the toile from that. I then fit the toile on the customer, then take apart the altered toile, clean up some lines and curves, then use that as the pattern. Making the toile is a cheap way for me to get a three dimensional feel for what a design is like without wasting expensive satin.

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A dress from Cartier’s Ijskristallen collection at Utah Fashion Week, made from satin and holiday decorations.

What inspires you?

I like to think of fashion design like storytelling, so a lot of the work I do is inspired by my own life experiences. Form wise, my inspirations are avant garde designers like Alexander McQueen and Iris Van Herpen, who take classic silhouettes and manipulate them into something new and modern.

What do you do to power through a creative block or other rough spot?

For me, creative blocks are generally caused by stress. If I am having trouble working creatively, I try to make time to relax and take care of other priorities in my schedule so I can think more clearly.

Where do you display your art?

My work is displayed in fashion shows, which happen periodically through the year. The major show I do is Utah Fashion Week, which is in late winter/early spring.

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All of Cartier’s Utah Fashion Week looks (plus, Cartier wearing her own hand-painted Starry Night dress, my whimsical favorite).

What progress would you like to make with your art? Where do you hope to see yourself in the future with it?

I would really like to get an education in fashion and improve my construction and design process. After that, I want to open my own design house. My ultimate goal would be to show a collection at Fashion Week alongside designers like Dior, Chanel, and others major names in fashion.

What are you doing to gain an audience or make a name for yourself?

I lean on social media for all my promotion. It’s simple, free, and helps me to get my work seen by people in bigger areas.

What do you enjoy about the fashion / clothing design industry that might be different from others? What are problems you’ve encountered?

I love the outreach fashion has. Even here in Pocatello, the clothing we buy has been influenced by haute couture collections. That being said, Pocatello is definitely not a fashion capital. The nearest place with even an ounce of a distinct fashion industry is Salt Lake City, which means that I have to travel 2 hours every time I attend a fashion show or even buy high quality fabrics.

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Dress made of U.S. History assignments.

What should someone expect (at least from your experience) if they want to get into the industry?

Getting into the fashion industry requires lots of work and, in turn, very little sleep. It is incredibly common for me and other designers to work all night trying to finish commission and collections. As an artist, it’s also very common for people to expect you to do work for free. This is definitely a quite annoying thing to have to deal with, but at the end of the day, your work has value and it’s worth it to keep working towards your goals anyway.

How can someone see more of your work?

@cartierdiordesigns on Instagram or www.facebook.com/cartierdiordesigns. Commission information is available by email at cartierdiordesigns@gmail.com.

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