Gurney's Inn
February 19, 2014

Local Designer Takes On World, One Dress At A Time

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For Manhattan-based fashion designer Mariana Lira, it's all about making a woman feel beautiful, confident, and of course, sexy. With a focus on evening wear, including cocktail and red carpet, as well as custom made and bridal pieces, the 27-year-old, raised in Southampton, has accomplished quite a lot in her young life. With several high profile fashion shows as close as NYC and as far away as China, plus a successful business, Mariana Valentina, (that she started just a year and a half ago), already under her belt, this young designer is just getting started.

What made you want to be a fashion designer?

I have been a creative person all my life and I wanted to have some kind of outlet to express my feelings and emotions, and so because of my love for the art and fashion world, I started making my own clothes. I started out making pieces only for myself and my friends because I was bored of seeing the same clothing everywhere and watching everyone wear the same thing. I enjoy creating something unique and seductive while keeping a classic yet elegant appeal. There is something mysterious about my work. I think that reflects my personality.

What inspires you?

There are a million things that can inspire me- my mood, traveling, the weather, a song, a movie, an art show, the beach, the ocean, my love life.

I was originally inspired by the ballet, which is where I began creating. I danced in a ballet company for many years where I was making my costumes for the performances. This was truly my first inspiration. If I wasn't designing, I would be dancing.

I'm also motivated by foreign films from the '40s, '50s and '60s. There is something about the way that the films are dramatized with emotion and passion from that time that I love, as well as the costumes and styling.

Being from Southampton, has where you grew up influenced you and your work at all?

Growing up as a child and teenager in Southampton certainly has had an impact on me and my work. I began attending social gatherings and events at a very young age, where I was surrounded by high society people. I was always aware and entertained by what everyone was wearing and what was trending that season. I was also always an hour away from New York City and spent the majority of my time there- I was easily bored during the long winters in Southampton. By the time I was 17 I got an apartment there for myself and began attending school, continued working, and still visited the Hamptons every summer. My love of the ocean and its calmness away from the city also helps me work.

What is it you want as the end result for your pieces?

What I want for the end result is simple- a beautiful piece of art that is wearable, comfortable, unique, sexy, and timeless that will make a woman feel powerful and confident.

You had shows at Nolcha Fashion Week and recently did a show in China. What were those shows like?

I have put together four collections since I started my business. Since then I have had two runway shows and two presentations as well as several events during fashion week in New York. I also just did a show in China during their fashion week this past December. Showing my collection to such a big audience and watching my creations come to life on the models with the music and the lights is one the most exhilarating feelings I've ever had.

What have been some of the main differences you've noticed between each show you've done?

One of the differences I notice between each show is the audience- it is really important who attends the shows, whether it's good press, editors, buyers, etc. The models you choose also make a huge difference when putting a show together- you want someone who can show the pieces well and walk confidently- someone who can really "strut it".

How do you see yourself in the future? What are your goals?

In the future I see myself working from my Atelier in Paris and continuing to spread my vision and inspiration throughout the world. I want to be sitting in a restaurant in a far away country and watch a beautiful woman walk by me in one of my creations.

For more information on Lira and her collection, plus to order something fabulous, visit

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