Upon entering the Socialite’s workspace one could gather a few things on her ‘Favorite Things’ list … for starters, she loves the color pink, against the wall was a book shelf she converted to a shoe gallery (all strategically placed by color, style and design), there’s a baker’s rack assorted with fabrics galore, bags of adornments and accessories, spools of thread, a sewing machine, a stack of sketchbooks, an ironing board with a pink handle iron and an inspiration board … I felt like a kid in a candy store, immediately I knew this interview would be dope!
The amazing quality about Veronica Ariel is her ability to remain humble and give credit to those she looks up to as fellow designers and role models. These days to be a designer who can really sew, draw, alter and actually execute (tastefully) a garment, is rare!
While sitting across from The Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago alum, she opened up to each question as if we’ve known each other for quite some time. Inviting Row A Seat 1 into her ‘Socialite’ life including everything from her eccentric childhood style, her love for Beyonce and Kanye, to being a Virgo, as well as her appreciation for certain designers and their work ethics … Have a seat, the show is starting!
RowASeat1: When did you fall in love with fashion?
Veronica Ariel: It was exactly 5th grade and this girl named Jennifer in my class had a pair of Dr. Martens and I was so determined to get them, so I begged my mom for a pair until she bought them for me. But, if my sister were here she’d say when I was five years old because I begged my grandfather to get me these cowboy boots from Payless. I was obsessed, and they were white (don’t judge me), but we went all over Roseland to look for these boots, and at that moment my sister said she knew I would be something, because I was too eccentric at that again. Like what five year old asks for white cowboy boots.
RowASeat1: Who taught you how to sew?
Veronica Ariel: School. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I had a vision and I knew how to draw, and I had ideas but I didn’t know how to sew. From The Illinois Institute of Art, a little bit of Columbia (Chicago) and some Harold Washington College – I bounced around a bit, but I graduated from AI!
Veronica Ariel: Veronica, the designer can sometimes be a little flamboyant but it’s done tastefully, its done in moderation. I love, love, love bright colors, pinks of course, animal prints and strips, and I’ve fallen in love with leather (Thank you, Kanye West and Kim), I’ve definitely been on this leather kick lately.
RowASeat1: Who is Veronica, the person?
Veronica Ariel: Oh, I’m all black shawty (laughs) I’m all black everything like the Omen. I really don’t like to venture off and do a lot of colors, although I have been lately because I’ve been trying to promote my brand and I’m trying to step out of the box. If you were to go to my closet you would see a predominantly amount of black in my wardrobe – I’m very plain, I might have a statement piece here or there, but for the most part I’m really simple, nothing extravagant. Although, I love denim jackets with everything and if I were wearing all black I would have on a denim jacket – denim jackets are my blazer!
RowASeat1: As a Black female designer, how do you feel about being apart of the industry?
Veronica Ariel: I’m not going to lie, it’s intimidating at times because it’s not many of us, and there are not many Black women who are successful within the fashion industry. I look up to certain designers and when they let me down, I’m so disappointed because I know it’s not a lot of us – we have to excel in every single collection. But, it’s tough because I’m young and people always look at me like you’re only 30, you’re Black and you’re a chick – what do you have to offer? So, it’s definitely a challenge and I get nervous every time I introduce a new collection because I dread the label of being an “Urban Designer” – I want to be ranked with the best. I just want to be a designer with no color intended.
RowASeat1: How would you resolve those issues?
Veronica Ariel: My goal is to put on an actual fashion show that would give Chicago that New York experience. You’re not going to pay to get into my show – it would be invite only, very swanky with a mixed crowd and the right clients, and I don’t want it to be like the average ‘club fashion show,’ which are so common in Chicago. I just want everyone to respect Chicago designers as authentic designers … Respect us!
Veronica Ariel: MUSIC. I have to have my music otherwise I won’t be able to work. Which is why I have different playlist to put me in the mood while I’m cutting, sewing or designing. I definitely have a Virgo playlist, which consist of all my favorites who just happen to be Virgos (Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Nas and etc).
(While glancing at her Beyonce shrine of magazines) I get inspired by other artist (no matter if you’re a singer or a model), I get inspired by people who have amazing work ethics and love what they do. For example, Zo (Fashion Geek) and Donte (The Fashion Firm) are my inspirations from Chicago – these two out work everybody! And I admire Zo because he is always grinding (Never sleeps), and Chicago is full of male designers and they look at me like ‘yeah whatever,’ but Zo was the first to show me respect as a designer and I’ll always remember that.
Then there’s Stella McCartney (She’s also a Virgo, lol), Monique Lhuillier, Elie Saab, Marchesa, Lanvin and definitely Karl Lagerfeld (I think he’s the Holy Grail of Fashion), Ralph and Oscar are definitely two of the greats. These are the things and people that inspire me to design and become the best I can be as a designer.
Veronica Ariel: Actually, it’s beyond fashion. I want someone to say I inspired them because of my work ethics or my collections. I work hard so my nephews can be inspired by what I do. If you have a dream work hard, get to it and you must have patience. Sometimes I have moments when I beat myself up because I feel I haven’t accomplished what I should’ve at 30, but greatness takes time it doesn’t happen over night. Then you’ll be able to appreciate your blessings and appreciate your rewards when you work super hard for them.
I want to be to someone what Zo (Fashion Geek) who’s in front of me or Beyonce who I look up to has been for me because of their work ethic – and I want to remain a humble designer. You can’t obtain success being bitchy or over-the-top with an Anna Wintour-type attitude. You obtain so much more being humble, giving back and treating everybody like they’ll get to the top because one day you were at the bottom – that’s the person I want to be, an inspiration to whoever … Inspire. Style. Pique.
For more information on Veronica Ariel: Check out her designs and definitely follow her on IG: iamsocialite; Facebook: Veronica Ariel Kelly; and Twitter: @iamsocialite.