Monday, July 18, 2016

meet Mark Zunino .. the 21st century designer




Here’s the recipe of the day: add a dash of Bob Mackie, a pinch of Elie Saab, a skosh of Vera Wang and a smidgeon of Adrian or maybe Orry Kelly, then, generously combine with a healthy dose of wow, stir vigorously and get the absolutely sexy, somewhat traditional and thoroughly modern Mark Zunino. Mr. Zunino has managed to fearlessly and deftly combine old world glamour, theatricality and time honored techniques to offer his take on stand out fashion; no matter if walking down the aisle, attending a black tie gala, taking center stage or strutting and preening on the red carpet.

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As you will read, here is a Los Angeles based designer who has managed to find his place within, not one, not two but three hugely competitive areas of the business we call fashion. He is first and foremost a couturier/createur in the truest sense as a vast majority of what he does is made to measure, whether it be for blushing brides, private clients or red carpet luminaries. He has set himself apart by creating bridal gowns which allow the bride to be chic, sexy and yet traditional; name another who does this, I dare you! Pssst ... don’t tell anyone but there is soon to be a capsule “couture” collection available at one of our most prestigious retail establishments! ... stay tuned!

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It is a rarity in today’s sphere of fashion to find a designer who sketches, drapes and fits their own designs let alone possess the entire skill set. To compound or maybe even magnify his abilities,  this multitalented designer does it all without the easy access to the ateliers of Paris and without the extensive staffs that so many of his peers have at their fingertips; remember he is in Beverly Hills not Paris and nor Milan nor Beirut. 

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So now I introduce you to a modern master of the art and craft of fashion in his own words:

Jeffrey Felner: Can you give us a sort of snapshot biography in terms of how you arrived at where you are today?
 Mark Zunino: My career started on a fluke referral from a professor of mine while attending Pepperdine University, I was asked if I would interview with Nolan Miller and Aaron Spelling. I accepted the interview and ended up getting the assistant design position. After my decision to depart from my studies in architecture, I took on a full-time position with Nolan Miller Inc. After several years of employment, I was asked to be a partner with Nolan Miller and eventually took over the company, after my independent label had been established.
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JF: You cover a diverse range of clients; can you speak to who each category addresses and what makes them unique in their respective marketplace?
MZ: My clientele is extremely diverse, ages ranging from 16yrs - 76 yrs. young. We cater to a range of economical levels while keeping the highest quality possible in each category: With the couture end of my work, we cater to very affluent internationally based women, designing entire wardrobes as well as special occasion pieces. I also have a well-established celebrity clientele, having been fortunate to have started with A-listers such as Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, through today’s celebs such as Angelina Jolie, Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez. The bridal portion of my brand is also accounts for a large part of my time as it, encompasses my Couture Bridal Collection as well as MZ2, a diffusion collection produced in China. Finally, at a moderate level, I have a more affordable collection of daywear sold on QVC which caters to those ladies who opt to shop form the comfort of their homes or via their home computer.
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JF: You do made to measure, red carpet, bridal and stage costumes, can you speak to the challenges of each as well as what your influences/inspirations are for each?
MZ: Whether working on garments for made-to-measure, red carpet, bridal or stage, the challenge and inspirations are the same… To design progressive and feminine clothing that contour and reshape a woman's body, making everyone look and feel sexy and confident. My inspiration comes from everything and anything around me. The creative process never takes a break. Creativity is continually in motion.
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?
MZ: Elizabeth Taylor because she was so progressive in thinking and very independent. She truly cared for the well-being of mankind without prejudice. She was one of my favorite women to have worked with.
Coco Chanel because she was revolutionary in influencing fashion and was a true survivor. She blazed her own trail regardless of others opinion. Rihanna because she’s the next name on my “wish-list” to become a new and recurring client; I love her fiercely rebellious and independent nature.  My Father because I would love for him to see what he was so instrumental in helping me accomplish, with the love, encouragement, drive and confidence he so unconditionally gave to me. Lastly, but surely not least would be my mother because she was equally instrumental in my journey and because she would give anything to be with my father one more time.
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JF: If you could choose any collaboration or project who or what would it be and why?
MZ: If I could collaborate with anyone, it would be to collaborate with Paco Rabanne. I had the pleasure of spending a few days with him in Russia a few years back and was mesmerized by his unique confidence in marching to the beat of his own drum in the business of fashion. Even when the industry labeled him eccentric and a bit crazy, at times yet to this day, his timeless aesthetic is as unique and contemporary as the day he first started.
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