A few weeks ago, Maria Ruseva, designer of Moda de la Maria, was featured on the Great Britons & Voice of London Show interviewed by Ian Pelham Turner. Ian’s journalistic skills shone, his work reaching a billion people worldwide, with regular appearances on other big-time global networks with Helena Chard, who unfortunately could not make the interview due to covid. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of Maria was nervous, and Ian, being the warm and kind person he is, made us feel very welcome and comfortable, putting Maria’s mind at ease, she illuminated in front of the camera. The studio was understated and produced incredible footage. These are a few of the questions Maria answered during the in-depth interview. Giving the viewer a taste of her life and brand.
What was your upbringing like in Moldova, were your family into fashion?
I remember starting from an incredibly young age, playing with dolls, I spent several days designing ballgowns. My grandfather experimented with traditional craftmanship making Hand-woven rush mats and baskets. He made dolls for us using hair, leaves of sweet corn and strands of wheat. Using wood to create spindles to induce wool, spoons, and his favourite pipe for tobacco. I enjoyed watching him while processing the sheepskin. And a few months after the skin was ready, I learnt to make traditional shepherd's hats and winter coats. My grandmother weaved wool with the spindle and then knitted socks, gloves, scarves, skirts, and sweaters. All this artistry in my family has brought me the passion for fashion to design my own garments.
Did you train in Moldova? What were your earliest memories of fashion?
I trained in Moldova for 19 years before moving to Istanbul, using wool and traditional techniques to make intricate items. I have fond memories of my time growing up and my family's heritage really influenced my work. The times were quite different then and we did not have advanced technology, so we created something out of nothing.
How would you describe your style of fashion?
My style is simple, yet classic. I have always loved longs skirts and sophisticated jackets. Being comfortable and confident in what I strive for in my dress sense. As a designer, I add a couture touch to my style which gives my clothes some originality.
Why did you seek sustainable and organic fashion?
I have always had a love for nature, animals, and the environment I grew up in. Again, the biggest influence was my grandfather. He taught me to use every wasted piece and create something original. I believe that what is natural is healthier for us as people and the entire planet.
The strain that ‘fast’ fashion has on our planet, particularly environmentally, is unsustainable in the long term. The irony of the term is that such pieces, although they are fast to produce, are often made using synthetic fabrics and do not remain wearable for long but take a long time to break down when disposed of, which makes them hard to recycle. My approach to sustainable fashion is to look at it from both sides. The materials I use should be organic, using sustainable pure resources to produce clothing that is ‘natural’. Also, made and styled in such a way that it will remain wearable and stylish for longer.
Tell me about the nine years you spent in the Istanbul fashion industry.
For me, it was a challenge of culture and a very wonderful experience to study as a designer and work in the hectic fashion industry of Istanbul. This gave me a deep understanding of the operational heart of the fashion industry, and of how to produce the best quality of clothing. I learnt so much about working in the business sense, for example; finding suppliers, working with pattern cutters, and making presentations. I studied the processes of making a garment and working with suppliers. I was incredibly involved with the production and selling process.
Why did you come to London in 2013?
In terms of fashion, London is considered one of the biggest global fashion capitals of the 21st century. I wanted a new challenge and to grow my brand here, I feel that there were so many exciting opportunities in this culture that I couldn’t wait to explore.
You use traditional hand techniques to produce each pattern, tell us about this.
Each pattern is created by hand, I spend several days first creating the pattern and then grading it. Once measuring out the pattern I would stitch it to trial fabrics to make alterations to the fit and correct sizing. As each piece is made to order; I want the garments to fit my customers perfectly, which takes time. Then when I am happy with the fit, I would start on my own fabrics. I believe that the old traditional handcrafted paper patterns are the most secure for starters and even experts. It's definitely the best way to avoid mistakes. I would then carefully stitch the pieces together following the patterns, I add cotton interfacing to certain areas which adds structure to my garments. Making these garments could take up to 7 weeks to make.
You use Isle of Mull tweeds how did all this start and why this material?
My grandfather from my dad’s side had a sheep farm. All my clothes for the winter were knitted by hand from our wool. I have been in love with wool fabric ever since. After carefully researching to find weavers that use traditional looms to weave the tweed and use plant-based dyes - I found Ardalanish. I appreciate their approach to the animals. Sourcing from Ardalanish meant I could create different and unique women’s jackets. Jackets that fit well and are durable.
How do you see the fashion industry evolving? Is fast fashion taking over?
I am more aware of the global impact endurable products have on the environment, so I create garments that are naturally sourced and sustainable. This is the question, do you buy 100 cheap pieces per year and throw them away, or just buy a few pieces that you love and feel comfortable in and can wear for generations and avoid unnecessary waste?
What is the full range of garments you produce?
We produce clothing such as coats, jackets, blouses, trousers, skirts, dresses, scarves, and detachable collars. All are made of high-quality organic tweed and natural silk. Each is executed in natural colours and soft pastels and is finished with carefully selected buttons or fastenings made from natural materials. Today I am wearing one of my favourite pieces, the Organic Tweed Wool Multicolour Single-breasted Jacket with the matching Skirt. These are classic, timeless pieces that women need in their wardrobes. The jacket comes with a double silk detachable collar and tweed belt adding an extra touch of sophistication. Both pieces come with silk lining which is delicate against the skin and perfect for the colder months. Each jacket is finished off with horn buttons, but this piece uses 3 grey Corozo buttons.
How can people contact you?
You can contact us directly through our website www.modadelamaria.com
Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook @modadelamaria
Overall, it was a fantastic experience for both of us, meeting amazing and talented people. Maria was privileged to be invited to speak about the brand and enjoyed every second. She will be back at the Great Britons & Voice of London Show with Ian at some point in the future. Stay tuned for more…