Victoria Hayes was poised to become a doctor when she decided to pursue fashion design instead.
Early in her pre-med studies in her native Toronto, she knew deep down that a career in medicine wasn’t for her. A shy, creative kid who loved drawing and painting, she had an affinity for fashion, using it to express herself in ways she couldn’t with words.
So instead of applying to medical school like her classmates, she moved to New York and enrolled at Parsons The New School of Design, where she quickly became a standout.
• TICKETS: To see Victora Hayes' Collection, visit fashionweekelpaseo.com for ticket information.
Hayes introduced her eponymous line just after graduation and quickly found A-list fans. Madonna, Lady Gaga, Janelle Monae, and Cardi B have all worn Hayes’ fiercely feminine creations, characterized by splashy patterns, rich textures, and eye-popping accessories.
The 31-year-old wunderkind will show a retrospective of her work and pieces from her Fall 2020 collection on March 21 during Fashion Week El Paseo. Ahead of her trip to the desert, Hayes talked about her design inspirations and dazzling career thus far.
What is your approach to design and how has it evolved?
My designs are always really focused on fabrication and surface detail. My first priority is always the prints and fabric choices and if we’re going to do any embellishments or use of hardware and trim. That’s always been my focus and I can track that back even to when I was a student. But I’ve always started my process with inspiration. I love to be inspired by source material, whether that’s visual source material, meaning other art — I used to reference Samurai armor a lot, for instance, when I was in school — or kind of a concept. I like to work with the concept of body image in fashion and make clothes from that social concept or social commentary. So for me it always starts with inspiration. Now we’re taking that inspiration and trying to make garments that resonate in the real world, so that real women can wear them but have a piece of that high concept in their everyday lives.
Where do you look for inspiration now?
Our last collection, which we’ll be showing in Palm Desert, did reference a lot of Japanese painting, Japanese floral painting, Japanese prints. There were some subtle Samurai references. I did go back to that and I recreated them. I painted flowers in my own hand, but they were referencing Japanese florals. There was a mix of that, along with some women I’m inspired by, like Shirley Manson of Garbage (who has performed in Hayes’ designs) and Diamanda Galas, who’s a really underground, very striking female performer… I look for inspiration anywhere. My last collection prior to this was based on (the 1996 film) Space Jam, because the Raptors won the NBA championship and I used to play basketball as a kid because of Space Jam.
How does it feel when icons like Madonna or Lady Gaga wear your designs?
It’s very validating. It’s nice to see that women who have endless options at their disposal choose my garments in the end… Someone like Madonna — since I was three years old, I’ve loved Madonna. That was probably the pinnacle of my career to see Madonna wear something I designed for a music video. So it is validating. It definitely helps with our brand awareness and our promotion of the brand. But it’s a double-edged sword, because it’s not enough to sustain a business. You can’t live off of getting press credits. So it’s kind of the tip of the iceberg: It’s the fun part that we promote and talk about, but there are a lot of moving parts in being an independent fashion brand and getting press is just one of them.
How do you decide what to include in a showcase like Fashion Week El Paseo?
This is a pretty big showcase for us. To do a show that spans over 30 minutes, that’s a lot of looks, so we pulled from our archive. We’re going to show the entirety, almost, of our newest collection, which would have delivered a few weeks ago at New York Fashion Week. We’re going to intersperse our Fall 2020 collection with an assortment of looks from the past… with garments going as far back as 2018, when I was still doing this alone in graduate school, all the way through until now. We’re calling it “Past, Present, and Future” in that it does harken back to my past, it’s the present, and this is overall what the brand stands for, so anything we do going forward would have the same ethos as these clothes.
What are your thoughts about showing in Greater Palm Springs?
I’ve been to Palm Springs once for two days to relax after going to Los Angeles for a work trip and I thought it was really lovely. I’m from Canada, but I’m enamored with the desert. I absolutely love the desert landscape. I loved Palm Springs. I love being in Southern California. Who doesn’t? I’m excited to go there and I’m excited to show there.
6:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception
8 p.m. Fashion Show
$95 Reserved Seating
$80 General Admission
$35 Student (with valid ID)
Live Entertainment: Hollywood Blonde
11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Free General Admission
Located at the reception tent at The Gardens on El Paseo