From Latvia to Birmingham, the luxurious designs of Marina Zeleznak

From Latvia to Birmingham, the luxurious designs of Marina Zeleznak

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Marina Zeleznak

Fashion designer

Latvian fashion designer Marina Zeleznak has created an impressive womenswear brand for herself in Birmingham called Donna Marina. Having been taught the basics of fashion largely by educating herself, she now designs ultra-flattering and intricate silhouettes with fashion-forward details. Inspired by fashion designers such as Donatella Versace, Marina has a luxurious but edgy look to her designs. Her goal behind her designs? "To bring happiness to the client wearing our garments", she says proudly. Here to speak more about her unconventional route into fashion and the inspiration behind her stunning designs, is an interview with Marina. 

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How did you get into fashion?

I'm from Latvia from a small town by the Baltic Sea, but have always been a creative person. When I was five years old, my father died and my mother was alone and so I grew up as a very independent child. This made me very free in my decisions and hobbies. Then when I was 18 years old, I was married and forgot about my hobbies. However, when I had a daughter I started to tailor and make clothes for her and I fell in love with fashion again. I would tailor my own dresses for events and loved how I could stand out with my own designs. Then when I came to England 15 years ago, I started to pick up my fashion education by taking online courses and learning about the history of fashion. In 2016 was my first real fashion show and I showcased at Leicester Fashion Week.

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What is it you love most about fashion?

I love that when I tailor a garment for someone and I can feel how happy they are when they look in the mirror. These feelings can be created by custom tailoring, and it is a wonderful feeling to be able to make someone feel confident like that.  

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How did you educate yourself about the technical side of fashion?

I took some private courses from a teacher at CSM and then I also took courses at Istituto Marangoni in Milan.

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What has been the most difficult part of your career so far?

First of all, finding a team to help manufacture my garments. When you start out by yourself you you need a partner or mentor who can help give you advice on this. 

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Who is a typical customer of Marina Zeleznak?

The Clients of Donna Marina, people who dress with style and personality, they will be sophisticated with a modern edge and not afraid to be bold.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

From everywhere; but mostly from music and nature. 

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Do you have someone you look up to in fashion?

I don't have one particular person, but I really like Peter Pilotto and Donatella Versace. I also love going on Net-a-Porter and looking at the emerging fashion talent and being inspired by what I see.

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If you could describe your brand as a type of music, what would it be?

I actually called my friend to get an answer to this question, and she said my designs remind her of Hans Zimmer music. I actually have a background in music and was thinking of having the models in one of my shows dance to tango music, so that they would not walk around like in a stiff mannequins. 

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How would you describe the fashion scene in Birmingham?

The fashion scene in Birmingham is not great as we don't have that many events, even though there are quite a few designers based here. There should definitely be more networking opportunities and fashion courses here as Birmingham is such a large city, yet there are scarce opportunities for people in fashion.

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What helps you to tailor garments for someone else?

Everybody is different, so it is very important to pay special attention to the structure of the client's body and to calculate the right dimensions. It is also critical to clearly understand what the customer wants and that you communicate their wishes and desires through the garment. Of course the most important part is ensuring that the customer is happy!

What can we expect from Marina Zeleznak in the next 10 years?

My dream is to have a professional studio with a team of five to six people so we can work together to create beautiful garments. 

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Want to find out more about Marina Zeleznak? Check out her website and Ocotur.

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