Yoana Baraschi’s World

by Dena Silver

Yoana Baraschi is the ultimate creative force. The designer adores photography and has recently been dabbling in the hair and makeup realm. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

What does Coterie mean to your brand?
This is my 12th year showing there, and over the years I’ve found that it’s really an opportunity to interact firsthand with the buyers. I think that relationship is vital to my line’s success. I have relationships that span over a dozen years with stores, and I know that they have a lot of loyal customers who have bought the brand for so many years. At Coterie, I feel like I’m directly in touch with the women who’ve been so faithful to the brand. I want to keep making them beautiful and happy. This season, happy is kind of a big message for us!

At this point in the game, do you find yourself doing more business with brick-and-mortar stores or with online retailers?
In the past six months, we’ve seen a resurgence of boutiques. We work with more brick-and-mortar stores, and we have initiatives that enhance and grow our online sales. Plus, we have partners like Rent the Runway. They just opened up a showroom in New York and have decided to choose one of our dresses as the uniform for their team. It’s a black and white fit and flare dress with a digital print. It looks very spacey but feels very young and fresh.

Tell us all about your Spring 2015 collection, please!
It’s an African-inspired collection, and it’s influenced by the Yoruba form of portraits they did in the ’50s and ’70s. It has a certain kind of elegance, with bold graphics and a clash of colors. It’s very close to street couture, too.

What will the prints look like?
One of the prints from the collection, which looks like a ginkgo leaf, was the starting point for the collection. I found it in a market in Paris, where the African community buys their waxed cloth. I actually found the fabric five years ago, but it was too early to do anything with it, so I just kind of kept it to myself. I feel that an African story is not complete without zebra and leopard elements, and so those have been used to bring alive the big floral prints.

A few seasons ago you used your own photos to create prints in your collection. Are you big into photography?
I like taking photos. My photos are very odd, and they’re usually emotional themes. At my favorite hotel in Paris, which is the former home of Louis XIV’s architect, they maintained a fresco on the ceiling. I like to stay in that room and just take pictures of the ceiling from different angles. I like to photograph details and bold elements that can be incorporated as the starting point for our prints and collections.

When did you first pick up photography?
I first got into photography the same time I started using a smartphone.

Do you have other ways of staying creative, aside from designing and taking pictures?
I like to cook and garden! But recently I started to do hair and makeup on my shoots, and I really enjoy it. It’s spontaneous and a very concise process when you can control the clothes, the makeup, the styling, and the hair. The idea to do the makeup myself came to me when I went to Sephora and I saw my friend Diane Kendal’s products from the Marc Jacobs Beauty line. They were the most happy, creative, and new pieces. They had this incredible feeling of newness, and the packaging was great, so I bought a bunch of product and started experimenting.

Where do you turn to for makeup inspiration?
I look at pictures in magazines and I retain what I see. An image I’d seen months ago could really impact me and become part of my process. The one thing is that the image needs to create an emotion.

And for hair inspiration?
I look toward Guido [Palau] for inspiration. He’s my next-door neighbor, actually!

Who’s your favorite model at the moment?
Agata Danilova from Elite Models. She’s friends with one of my pattern makers and she’s amazing. At a recent shoot I told Agata to give me Avedon in 1970 and her whole repertoire of movements changed. Honestly, it looked like a well-choreographed ballet at the highest level. When you see a model like that, you can only be in awe.

After all this work, do you have vacations planned in the near future?
I always go to Paris; I actually go about six times a year.

Do you prefer the Left Bank or the Right Bank?
Definitely the Left Bank.

What are your Left Bank haunts?
I always go to Café de Flore because it’s steps from my favorite hotel. And I like the restaurant Le Cherche Midi; the food is excellent, and it is very chic. I’ve been going there for more than 20 years, and it’s the meeting place for all the people in my neighborhood.

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