Designer Mathieu Mirano is just 22 years old, but he may be the most interesting man in the world (no beer required.) Mirano has collaborated with Lady Gaga, traveled to Egypt and India, and is a classically trained pianist. He shows a full collection at New York Fashion Week and composes his own songs. And yet, Mirano still finds wonder in the little things; see: the baby chicks at the Museum of Science and Industry.
The prodigious artist just got picked up by Evanston boutique Chalk, which carries his makes-you-stare women's designs. Read on to meet one of the most charming, intelligent creatures we've ever chitchatted with, and stop by Chalk to see his arresting designs for yourself.
Tell us about your foray into Chalk! How did you meet the store's owners?
I'm so excited to be a part of Chalk. It's a beautiful store, so well curated. The owners are my kind of people. Those women [owners Sharon Watrous and Carrie Kane] are so funny and fun to be around. My first meeting with them in my studio was a blast; we were actually joking around a bit, which is so refreshing. It's an honor to be sold in their store.
Have you spent much time here? If so, what's your perception of Midwestern or Chicago style?
I am obsessed with Chicago. It's such a beautiful, spacious, and thoughtful city. The Museum of Science and Industry is my absolute favorite place in Chicago. My dad and I are in love with the baby chicks that hatch every day in the incubator in the center of the museum. We'll go in the morning, see the full eggs, then come back a few hours later after walking through the museum and see the hatched babies. It's adorable. The museum is also incredibly interactive, which is genius because you feel a part of the action. It's a sanctuary of mine.
Form what you've seen at Chalk, the clothes you design are so daring and sexy. What do you pull from when you create these pieces?
Although much of my work is visual, the fashion industry combines so many different creative avenues. I can work visually, musically, technically, et cetera. I love being able to dip into all of these different sides of myself. It's also amazing to be able to dress women and make them feel beautiful. I'm creating a lifestyle for these women, and they live it. It's magical.
You studied at Parsons the New School For Design. Who was your most memorable teacher there, and what did you learn from him or her?
Jack Solomon. He was one of my drawing teachers. I learned so much about the female form, and how to understand what I was dressing. He showed me possibilities that I never knew were possible. Jack Solomon's drawing class [was difficult], in fact! That's part of the reason why I loved it; it challenged me and made me think. It made me a better artist and designer. I always want a challenge. Life is boring without a struggle.
What is the advantage of being a 22-year-old in your industry?
There is a lot of room to grow. I want to learn from all of the professionals in the industry that have been doing their jobs longer than I've been alive. It's inspiring.
I know you're an accomplished pianist in addition to being a designer. When you play, are you driven to create your own songs, or do you like playing other works?
I actually do know how to write music. I started learning about music theory very early on in my life and found it to be very interesting. I love playing other works, like Mendelssohn and Bach—specifically the challenging Brandenburg Concertos—but I always love creating my own works. It's satisfying in the best way.
What do you listen to when you design in your studio? Classical music, or something totally different?
All types of music! I can be listening to Philip Glass one day, then Lana Del Rey the next. My favorite artists to listen to right now are Susanne Sundfør, Azealia Banks, Die Antwoord, and Katy Perry.
What does it feel like to show your work at New York fashion week?
It's the pinnacle of a young designer's dream. Of course, I have so much more I want to do, but making it to the tents at Lincoln Center is an accomplishment all on its own. I'm very proud to say that I show next to Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera. It's unreal.
You travel a ton! What are some of the most inspiring places to you?
I do travel a lot! I love being able to leave my reality and place myself in someone else's. It's amazing seeing how other people live, especially women. I've been to Egypt three times, so it's safe to say that this country has been the most inspiring for me. Seeing the architecture, the culture, and the mythology are all inspiring. The most unusual place I have found inspiration in is India, while riding a rickshaw. What an adventure that was!
Is there a person you've met on your travels who have been most inspiring to you as a designer?
I meet so many people while travelling that it's hard to think of the most inspiring individual. Many of our guides that I've had on my safaris in Africa are amazing because they have so much knowledge and are so dedicated to their work. That level of dedication to knowledge and environmental preservation isn't seen in many other places. It's less of a direct, literal inspiration, but still a message of drive and dedication that resonates with me.
Ok I've got to ask you at least one totally random thing. So on the travel tip: Have you ever made a truly bizarre Sky Mall purchase
I haven't, but I look at that catalogue every time I'm on a plane. I secretly want those plastic lawn ornaments of dead people crawling out of the ground. I would just put it near the front door of my New York City apartment—no grass needed.
· Mathieu Mirano [Official Site]
· Chalk Boutique [Official Site]
· Peep Inside Chalk's Exclusive Designer Dinner [Racked Chicago]