When Daisy Viktoria broke down how her love of fashion and creating next-level garments coincided with her chemical engineering education, I realized why I can only sew a button (and not that well). While a simple fraction causes me to panic and sweat, Daisy Viktoria calculates how to execute her signature fantasy couture with ease. Now it’s time to get to know more about this master of fashion who holds her own Masters.
Kendra: Kids have a myriad of interests, but what did your family think when you pursued learning to sew and then actually excelled at it?
Daisy Viktoria: My mom taught me to sew when I was little! I was always encouraged to continue to learn and experiment with sewing, and my family loved to show off my work. They still do! I recently created a historical gown for one of my cousins in Sweden.
Kendra: When it came time to grow up and head off to college, you took a route that those who know you for fashion would not have expected. You went on to earn an MS in Chemical Engineering and I won’t pretend I know exactly what that is. I just know it takes someone with quite the brain to do. While that’s the degree you have now, was there ever a moment when you were in high school that you thought you’d head off to study fashion in Paris or stateside at somewhere like FIDM?
Daisy Viktoria: Math and science have always come very naturally to me. It’s probably why pattern drafting is a natural skill! I started altering and then drafting patterns as early as elementary school. Making clothing and costumes was never part of my school curriculum but something I just did. A part of me! While I did intend to study theatre at one point and considered going to fashion school, I knew I had the experience to prove my skills in costume design and clothing construction, even without school.
I love math and science, and if I wanted the option to work in engineering, I knew I would need a degree for that. I graduated with the highest honors and then earned a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. With that education, I gained a level of problem-solving and critical thinking that makes me unique in my current field and allows me to look at challenges from a logical perspective.
Kendra: Are there any parallels between your science background and your current state doing fashion design?
Daisy Viktoria: Fashion design is, in essence, a type of sculpture, or building. Anytime you are creating structures, there is an engineering component in the stability and combination of materials. So much of sewing (pattern drafting, pattern sizing, fitting) is based on math. Being able to visualize in 3 dimensions helped me in calculus, just as it helps me to plan and execute a clothing design. I can see a structure in my head and break it down into its components. From there, a lot of the technical process starts with math! This is the other part of fashion design, the counterpart to the artistic inspiration. The ability to learn and execute the technical side is such an important underlying skillset.
The other part of this is business. In order to run a business, you need to have the ability to analyze and adjust. You must be open to new ideas and have the drive and motivation to research and find them. The demands of a science-based education prepared me to move forward, regardless of the level of challenge. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to find and synthesize new solutions are important skills for business owners, and these were highly emphasized in science. I know there is nothing I cannot figure out if I choose to drive myself toward the solution.
Kendra: Designing and executing many corsets over the years, you’ve become synonymous with your corsetry but it always seems like that piece of fashion is set aside as either for costume or lingerie when once upon a time women wore them as everyday wear. Why do you think corsets have become more niche than they once were?
Daisy Viktoria: Corsets retain a timeless beauty which reminds us of a romantic age. Corsets allow us to have an element of fantasy and whimsy in our lives. Corsets themselves evolved quite a lot over the years, in name and silhouette, in construction and materials, even by culture and region.
What we typically think of as a corset now is derived from the Victorian era. This silhouette has become idealized for so many of us who seek to feel that timeless beauty, a fairytale elegance, and even a strong feminine power. As undergarments have continued to evolve to support current fashion silhouettes, corsets have become an extra special piece that can bring so much joy to the wearer.
With the evolution of fast fashion, we now have garments that are inspired by corsets, in addition to traditionally constructed, high-end corsets which are truly a worthy experience. A properly fitted and well-structured corset is a comfortable and beautiful piece that can make us feel so beautiful.
Kendra: Being that you design everything from costumes to fantastical bridal wear, where are you picking up little hints of inspiration? Do you take notes at conventions, read bridal magazines to see how to elevate basic gowns to your couture-level?
Daisy Viktoria: Inspiration is everywhere! I feel most connected to myself and my inner guidance when I take time to reflect in nature. The shapes, the energies, the ways the forces of nature interact with one another, all hold such a natural inspiration for me. I love various art forms and often feel inspired by the feelings and energies surrounding other types of art. I love going to museums and being among paintings, sculptures, and other artworks created so long ago by such creative individuals. I love performance art and channel the evoked feelings into my artistic inspiration. I have a lifelong immersion in historical reenactment, fairy and fantasy art, costumed festivals, and this is such a natural part of where I draw inspiration.
Kendra: As a designer, what are some of your goals as you continue to grow with time?
Daisy Viktoria: I am very excited to continue moving forward with fantasy couture designs! I am always challenging myself to be creative, and that means taking time for personal development and self-care so that my mind has the clarity to synthesize new ideas. I want to always be learning and growing, always finding new ideas and new things to try. There is a balance with running a business, and a personal goal is to hold on to my artistic spirit in the world of business. I hope to give myself the tools to always find my joy in designing and creating, no matter what the piece turns out to be.
Kendra: What do you have coming up as we get ready to leave 2019 behind and enter 2020?
Daisy Viktoria: So many exciting ideas! This year, I began a series of PDF tutorials. Through both historical reenactment and cosplay, I have taught so many skills to others and have had requests for lessons that I am finally able to provide through tutorials. I will be continuing that series through PDF format, exclusive Patreon content, and YouTube videos. I will be sharing more of my behind the scenes work, both construction and photoshoots, on Patreon and YouTube as well. And what it all stems from, creating beautiful fantasy pieces – I am challenging myself to stay true to my inner being and to grow as an artist this year. I have already cut back on smaller commissions so that I can provide myself with the resources to create larger projects. Using some of that time to document and create educational content is very enriching for me, and I hope to enrich many more lives with my creations.