While many of her friends were fawning over clothing in department stores, Marianne Dorado ’14 was beginning, at a young age, to create her own designs. What started as a childhood hobby has since evolved into a serious passion for Dorado, who gained her first formal experience while building costumes for her high school’s theater productions.
“The first play I did was Les Miserables. I got hooked on costuming, and I loved it,” Dorado said.
But when she first came to Cornell for her freshman year, Dorado put her dreams on hold in favor of what she believed would be a more practical academic track. She matriculated as a human biology, health and society major, with the intention of going to medical school after graduation.
“I knew fashion was not a very lucrative career, so I decided to give the pre-med thing a shot,” Dorado said.
But on the side, Dorado continued her work in costuming in the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts’ costume shop, working as an assistant designing and creating costumes for productions.
Unable to sideline what she had feared were unrealistic career ambitions, Dorado said she realized that she wanted to pursue fashion design not only through extra-curricular activities, but academically as well.
She ultimately switched into the fiber science and apparel design major in the College of Human Ecology — a transition which has led to new opportunities in the fashion world, she said.
This fall, Dorado began selling her own designs at a local boutique in Ithaca: The Art and Found, located on East State Street in the Commons, which often features apparel produced by local designers.
“I found out [The Art and Found] was looking for local designers and sent them some photos of sweaters and lingerie [that I had made]. They loved it, so I’ve been selling them at the store since they opened around Labor Day,” Dorado said.
She said selling her clothing at the store has given her the chance to learn more about the intricacies of finding just the right materials and measurements to create pieces for commercial sale.
“I’ve been learning about manufacturing on a small scale to create one-of-a-kind pieces,” Dorado said.
Although she said her style is constantly evolving, Dorado is currently fixated on clean lines and geometric shapes.
“My design philosophy is that every seam in a garment should have a purpose,” she said. “I don’t believe in purely decorative motifs. Everything should have a function.”
In the future, Dorado hopes to pursue a career in fashion, she said.
An internship this summer at Supima, a luxury cotton brand, gave Dorado the opportunity to work at the 2012 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City — an experience she said gave her a first-hand look at the fast-paced nature of the industry.
“I know it’s going to take a while, but my ideal job is to be the creative director for my own line,” Dorado said.