Talk about inspiration—the Academy of Art Fashion school is located at the old California Hall, a German Baroque style building influenced by the Heidelberg Castle. Continuing our coverage of the AAU Spring Show, we look to the many offerings by its famed Fashion School, which offers everything from Costume Design, Fashion Journalism, Product Development, Fashion Styling and Fashion Art Direction, among other up to the minute specialties. Culmination of the students’ work, the Spring Show features an annual runway event that’s a feast for the eyes. The dazzling white lace creations of Antonella Almonte, many with signature skulls peeking through, were a standout, offering an array of sartorial selections, from pats to capes to caftans and more.
Juxtapoz: Where did you grow up and what interested and influenced you as a youngster?
Antonella Almonte: I grew up in a town called Petion Ville in Haiti. The majority of my childhood was spent in both the countryside and the capitol. I Jacmel, I spent most of time outdoors and that developed my interest and connection with nature. Meanwhile in Petion-Ville I would read and spend days with my late aunt who used to be a seamstress. I believe all those experiences had an influence on me, not only as an individual but also as an artist. My interest in the arts and history started with hours of watching documentaries and reading random books I would find at my relatives’ and in my own home.
Did you have a job or attend another school before AAU?
Actually, after immigrating, I got my GED before attending AAU and had and had not been working at that time.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist and when did you choose Fashion?
We all express ourselves creatively as children, and luckily, mine was not suppressed as I grew up. I would always draw, then started portraits and even wrote at some point. I started drawing digitally about two years ago.I can’t say there was a moment where I knew I wanted to be an artist because I knew I always knew I was an artist. When it comes to Fashion Design, I started drawing gowns in Eighth grade, but it took me two years to decide what I wanted to attend fashion school and get better at my skills, as well as discover new ones.
Would you say you pivoted from your course?
Not at all, I try to express myself creatively as much as I can through different genres, but so far, I am definitely hooked on Fashion Design>
Do you have a favorite artist or influence?
As unusual as this may sound, I do not, although I sometimes enjoy listening to or looking at some artists. I don’t seem to have a favorite, nor any that I can identify who influence me – but maybe I don’t notice it!
Why did you choose the Academy of Art?
I wanted to attend fashion school either in Europe or California, and at that time, it seemed easier to stay in the USA. While doing research, I discovered the Academy, liked that program and decided to apply.
What was your favorite class or teacher?
I really enjoyed taking ARt History through the 15th century with Kevin Forman and my favorite instructor is Gary Miller.
What was the best experience about being in the Spring Show?
It was my first tie attending, and I didn’t know what to expect. I loved seeing my work at the venue’s entrance and interacting with everyone who had questions and comments about my collection. I also enjoyed discovering other students’ work and learning about their inspiration and process.
What are your goals as an artist and how do you see that as part of your life?
I want to explore other forms of art. I would like to be free and fortunate enough to try as many forms of art as I possibly can and I want art to occupy a much bigger place in my life as I evolve as a creator.