Samantha Robarge


Water Nymphs

Pure Water by Meydn

Why did you choose your color palette?​

Originally, my color palette was going to be blue and silver, with a touch of light blue. After our class went through a color theory lecture, Dr. Dorie asked that we develop our ideas for color schemes and come up with a few using various ideas for each color palette that we had in mind. Something she told me was that she felt as though my original color palette was a bit too literal when thinking of “water” by using mainly blues. Through careful research, I began to look into what colors the ancient Greeks wore and came across that brides were often seen wearing purple.  In modern-day we often associate them as wearing gold. I wanted this to be a collection that could feel empowering with my models, so I chose a color scheme known as split complementary and consists of dark blue, light blue, purple, and gold. This makes it interesting to the eye by using more than just monochromatic colors (mainly blues) and may offer colors that not a lot of people see often.

What was the inspiration for your collection? 

My inspiration for my collection are Water Nymphs. Growing up, I always was interested in Greek mythology and remember my dad reading me stories about them as well as getting drawing books for mythological creatures. While I don’t have ancestral roots from Greece, it has always been something that I love to learn about. Touching back on my previous answer, drapery work is something that is new to me, so I wanted to expand my knowledge on it in this collection.  Last semester I took a draping sewing class, but most of it was fitted garments. However, I still enjoyed the process a lot more than flat patterning, and I was inspired to modernize ancient Grecian dress while incorporating water nymphs into my collection looks through the ears, color scheme, and flounces to mimic ripples. Some of my looks are heavily influenced by Grecian dress through the usage of patterns seen on pottery as well as the heavy drapery and silhouettes, while some are more modern, but I have expanded on these looks so much since last semester and I am excited to see them come to life!

Did anything specifically move you to go with that theme?

I knew I wanted to have a collection that was geared more towards costume design looks rather than clothing that we see regularly in society or department stores. Our historical costume class and working in the costume department on campus were both huge inspirations for me in figuring out what I wanted my theme to be. I wanted to include “armor” (gold pieces) as seen in the last 2 looks as a way to incorporate ideas and skills from cosplaying that I have learned over the years, along with foam working skills to include non-traditional elements in these designs too.

Why did you became a designer, what were you inspired by? 

I started getting interested in designing in 2012 after I went to my first anime convention and was interested in cosplaying ever since! I have loved making costumes over the years and seeing my skills develop, and I wanted to pursue it as a career by the time I got to college. I love learning about new techniques and incorporating these ideas into each costume I make. When it comes to fashion design, I feel like it provides a sturdy foundation for developing skills, ideas, and concepts, which I can then, in turn, relate back to costume design. After studying abroad in Sydney, Australia for a semester, I felt as though I could enhance my ability to create concepts and designs including hand and digital illustrations, mood boards, technical flats, and more. This also helped me when it came time to sewing and constructing garments by being able to fully grasp how designers are able to drape and flat pattern each piece of a design when given to them. Some of my biggest inspirations are my friends and their work, and SomersetSews.

Who are your favorite designers?

Some of my favorite costume designers/cosplayers are SomersetSews, Fawnina, YayaHan, and Kamui Cosplay. SomersetSews runs her own commission business and makes beautiful costumes for all of her clients. A lot of methods she uses may be seen as unconventional and it still turns out flawless. I look up to her work a lot and am deeply motivated by her work and drive. Fawnina was the first person that I started following when I first started out sewing and would read up on a lot of her tutorials back in the day. She doesn’t make costumes as regularly anymore, but she is so detail oriented with her work when it comes to dying fabrics, embellishments, and embroidery. YayaHan is probably one of the most well-known cosplayers and recently opened a line of fabrics and notions in JoAnn fabric stores. The amount of detail she puts into her craftsmanship from different textiles and fabrics, to her beautifully sculpted armor building skills, and to be as accurate as possible with each cosplay she creates is very admirable to me. Kamui Cosplay I came across about a year ago and they provide a lot of insight and helpful tutorials/books on foamwork which is an area that I want to experiment more in. I know a lot of basics as I have only used foam/armor in a few costumes I have made but she makes it look so fun and easy to do! 

What are you personally inspired by?

Something that inspires me each day is to look back at how far I have come with my skill set. I think about my first few costumes I’ve made vs. costumes I’ve made right before taking classes for sewing at SFSU vs. where I am currently at. The changes have been so drastic! There is always something new to learn and there is always room for more improvement. My own personal growth and seeing progress photos from my friends and the costume designers I look up to inspire me to keep following my goals and dreams in this field of study.

What makes your work different from other designers?

In terms of our senior collection designs, I think my work is different because I took a more historical costume approach from my peers. I think the way fashion has changed over the years has been fascinating and I absolutely love historical dress. Working in the costume shop, I was exposed to these garments a lot more regularly as they have a plethora of costumes hanging up from all different eras! I really wanted to do something bold and unique while still being influenced by historical dress. I find it a lot more interesting and fun to sew together outfits that really stand out and that a lot of people don’t typically see today. Something I love about costume design over fashion design is a lot more often it is something that is unique in the sense that it’s one-of-a-kind and not mass marketed or produced everywhere, like say a blazer or something. Runway fashion and red carpet fashion give me these vibes too and I looked at a lot of looks from those sources as points of inspiration when initially sketching out design ideas.

Any advice for aspiring fashion designers?

Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to make errors and mistakes. This is how we learn and grow! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it takes so much time, patience, and practice to develop skills. I think it is also important to not compare yourself or your work to your peers because everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and some people may advance at faster paces which is totally okay. It is so easy to get down about your work and compare it to others but if it is something you are passionate about and an area you want to grow in, you have to be kind to yourself and realize it will take time to grow. Take each project you do as a learning experience, whether it be experimenting with different fabrics, using new notions, using a new technique, new seams, closures, etc. It’s something that has helped me over the years to expose me to new methods and ideas while keeping things fresh and exciting.

How has your design experience been like at SF State?

I wish we had more than 2 years in this major here personally! There were a lot of insightful classes and professors I’ve had and I’m grateful for every experience I’ve had. I have definitely improved SO much when it comes to sewing, fashion illustration work, and knowledge about different textiles. I was very fortunate to be able to study abroad at the University of Technology, Sydney in Australia my second semester into this major and I learned so many useful skills abroad that I was able to translate over here! Some of the classes I was able to take there we didn’t offer over here, so I’m glad I was able to have that exposure. Their coursework is also a lot more difficult and challenging as it is one of the top design schools, so this really pushed me to grow not only as a designer but as a person overall.

Water Nymphs