"I like voids, beginnings, endings, and things in between."
Nancy Stella Soto is a Los Angeles based designer who creates handcrafted pieces that subvert traditional forms and merged dichotomous elements: excess and disappearance, resilience and disorder. In the accumulation and repurposing of found material, Soto incorporates temporality into her object-making by often utilizing the sun to affect textiles and metals through fading and aging, as well as considering the destructive roles of chaos and interference.
We were able to get an exclusive interview with the designer herself:
Where did you grow up?
I was born in East L.A. and grew up in Highland Park and the San Gabriel Valley.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up, make coffee, do some stretches and go for a hike with my beloved dog Belvedere. I stroll into the studio at about 10:30am and aside from lunch and dinner and a snack break I'm in there until about 11:30pm. I am grateful to be able to sustain myself through my practice, but realistically most waking minutes are work related.
Did you always want to be a designer or is it something you discovered over time?
I always knew I wanted to cut shapes and place them in certain areas. Maybe the designer realization happened in high school.
How do you come up with your ideas for each collection?
Each collection is an evolution from the previous one. I suppose it all began with the grid cutout. In a way, I was trying to create an enlarged mesh of sorts and trying to create my own fabric. I like how this lead to a game of conceal and reveal within a garment, so I decided to play with that concept. I like voids, beginnings, endings, and things in between.
How was that influenced the way you work?
Well, because I know and understand most of the steps to producing a basic garment, it's hard for me not to do ALL of those steps. I make all of my patterns, sew all samples, I do all of the grading and marking and QC. Sometimes I think this is limiting since I can foresee difficulties in production and so I will avoid a detail, technique or fabric.
What are your plans for the future?
Well, to me the future is now and so I strive to be present and honest with my designs and to grow my company while supporting manufacturing businesses in Los Angeles. It's important for me to produce my clothing here. I will also be collecting more cacti, more Comme des Garçons, and more shoes.