Marissa Webb

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As a woman who spent her childhood playing in the woods of Pennsylvania covered in mud, New York based designer Marissa Webb is a far-cry from the playful tomboy she once was. However, that young energetic, free-spirited girl has never really left. She inspires, occasionally dictates, and always influences the direction Webb is headed. With only two collections of her women’s ready-to-wear line under her belt, she effortlessly – and to recent, overwhelmingly positive reviews – blends feminine shapes with rigid masculinity. Born in Korea and adopted with her biological siblings, she moved to The United States at the age of four, and for as long as she can remember has always loved the idea of fashion. A bit of an oddball mix – one day baseball cap, the next, ballet tutu – it is apparent that this woman has ardent confidence in her own style. Through years of working in the fashion industry she has been drawn to design for women who share this similar trait – women who are fearless in expressing their own personal style and have fun with fashion.

Originally aspiring to be a psychiatrist, it was after some time at Rutgers University that her unwavering love of illustrating lead her to accept that a creative path was one she needed to follow. She transferred to The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where she quickly learned that all around her were talented artists and that the creative world, one often romanticized, is extremely challenging. It has been with hard work, dedication, and pushing herself every single day without making excuses that she has gone from the school classrooms, directly into the competitive fashion world. As someone who has a range of different interests, her personal mantra to learn something new every day or consider it a waste is what keeps Webb at the helm of her career.

Honing her skills over an eleven year tenure at J.Crew, Webb served in various design roles and was most recently the head designer of Womenswear and Accessories. Always wanting to establish her own line, she decided after a decade plus of working for the company that it was time to take the leap into independent design. For her Spring / Summer 2013 debut collection her designs had noticeable elements of J. Crew influence, with strong structure and oft-times preppy accents. However, her unique flare for highlighting opposites, which will undoubtedly become a signature of the Marissa Webb label, was evidently present.  A self-proclaimed lover of juxtapositions (remember the tutu and cap!) she expresses how opposing elements are central to her work, as she doesn’t believe one can exist without the other. In short she is an avid believer in the fine art of balance. She has been known to ransack her fiancé’s, brother’s, and father’s closets in search of discovering new and interesting ways to integrate masculinity into her clothing, and admits that she is equally inspired by menswear as she is women’s. Finding the marriage between the ability of men’s fabrics to tailor and hold shape, and how softer feminine fabrics like silk and lace drape the body, is a skill that Webb has mastered.

When asked to describe what comes to mind when summarizing her style philosophy, she elaborates on an idea in her mind – an image that may perhaps contrast soft petals against concrete walls or blowing feathers against brick buildings. The tendency for these contradictions to exist in the real world is a framework that she applies to her own line. Since her days at J. Crew she has grown more comfortable in pushing boundaries, noting how her collections have grown a little more rock and roll and include plenty more leather. She continues to focus on shape, fit, and silhouettes – critical components to making any woman feel beautiful – yet also notes the importance of how seam work is playing into her design. Whether she chooses to include seams or intentionally leaves them out, each decision is made with careful consideration for the specific garment. Travel is a major source of inspiration, but with her non-stop schedule, taking time for herself can be difficult, and as a result she has learned to pay attention to all of her surroundings. From a single image in a vintage book, or a textile found at a rummage sale, her sources of inspiration are purely rooted in the happenings of everyday life.

Although deeply humbled by the glowing response from the industry, friends, and fashion lovers, she hasn’t forgotten that this is a challenging world to break into, and that staying grounded and focused is the key in continuing to evolve and develop as an independent designer. All of Webb’s clothes are made in New York, her current home, and the majority of fabrics are sourced from Italy, Japan, France, and Korea with detailed embroidering handmade in India. Webb currently has an e-commerce site (www.marissa-webb.com) and her clothing can also be found lining shops across the States and in international store fronts ranging from Saudi Arabia, Russia, to Japan. With goals to one day open her own Marissa Webb store, she is currently focused on designing her third collection – one that is bound to be striking, bold, and accented with her ever-fervent feminine touch.

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Text by Morgan K. Sterns
Photography by Billy Farrell Agency

THE SPRING ISSUE


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