by Mariana Ortiz-Reyes
Meet Nasheli Juliana Ortiz!
Occupation: Fashion designer, educator, mother and wife.
Inspiration: architecture, "as it is the reflection of society".
Location: oldest city of the state of Georgia, U.S.A.
Nasheli Juliana moved to Savannah, GA from Puerto Rico in 2012 with her young family for attending Savannah College of Art and Design, this town's young and hip energy source. Savannah is also home to among other things Civil War history, industrial manufacturing and college kids from all over the world.
At her thesis show in May, Nasheli Juliana presented the latest collection from her student work at SCAD's School of Fashion. In our next feature about Nasheli Juliana we will share all the details of this collection.
Nasheli Juliana first studied Fashion Design in the Dominican Republic, where she stayed to acquire fashion industry experience as a designer and production assistant. Upon her return to Puerto Rico she continue to work in the business as well as teach, while she completed a bachelor's degree at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas in San Juan. Just before leaving the Island, Nasheli Juliana was a professor at Universidad del Turabo and worked in art direction and costumes for advertising and movie productions.
In her view, the opportunities in Puerto Rico were limiting, and participating in catwalks did not really draw her attention. In her own words:
“I felt I had done all I could do in fashion”.
This unsettling feeling about her professional development was also confronted by the need to provide a good education for her growing children. Her family determined Puerto Rico’s current economic landscape was not conductive for their progress. While searching for alternatives for getting off the Island, it became evident to Nasheli and her husband that going back to school was what they needed. With scholarships at hand they moved the family to Savannah, GA.
Life at SCAD
Nasheli Juliana’s first work at SCAD was an all-white Calatrava-inspired minimalist collection, which she describes as a continuation of what she had done in the past. What stands out of her accounts of the academic experience to follow is how the professors helped change her vision and creative process, while challenging her every step. At SCAD she got the opportunity to work with professors who explored the conceptual side of design. This approach to design is evident in her thesis collection.
"My thesis work addresses how fashion is affected by politics and war. For visual inspiration I used the September 11 attacks, specifically the tragedy at the World Trade Center.”
Coming to Savannah for her Master’s in Fashion Design was something that presented a real challenge. Now that she’s done it, she looks back to analyze the positive change this has been for her, professionally and personally, as well as for her children.
“All this experience has been very gratifying, because as a mother I thought my career as a designer was over… but seeing that I did it is very satisfactory.”
While saying this and thinking about the sacrifices of her journey, Nasheli Juliana can't help but get emotional. Life after graduate school might prove to be challenging as well, as it is for most newly graduates. Finding a job becomes top priority for acquiring the experience that can position a career. Nasheli Juliana is open to opportunities for her collection, having already an offer to show it in Puerto Rico. Her current interest is doing experimental work, while finding the right connections to enter a passion of hers, show business.
Coming next, more on Nasheli Juliana's creative process and the inspiration that enabled her collection. Explore more of her work at Behance.
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