We talk inspiration, design identity, and FABRICS with U.S DESIGNER Barbara Riordan ahead of her Vancouver Fashion Week showcase.


MM: Can you explain your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Riordan: I am Pariah, everything I create is something I want to wear. I have always had a strong fashion aesthetic. I’ve had friends tell me they couldn’t wait to see what I was going to wear, even just at everyday get-togethers. I wasn’t ‘trying’, I was just wearing my clothes. Pariah is an insiders brand, for the woman who chooses a unique fashion voice. Each piece is limited edition.

MM: What sparked your interest in fashion?

Riordan: I have always been interested in fashion. I’ve been making my own clothes since I was 6 years old so I was never bound by what was available in stores, I created my own looks.  I feel that a fashion sense is really something a person is born with. 

MM: Your work is very experimental. Are you always investigating something when you create?

Riordan: I have two methods in my creative process. If I am going on a trip or have an event to attend, I start coming up with ideas of what I would want to wear. How am I going to stand out?  If I am going to a formal event where I think others will be wearing black, I will make a pink floral gown. The other method for creating is when I go to the textile shows. Fabrics with colour, print or texture attract me. The fabric tells me what it wants to be; a skirt, a blouse. The fabric speaks to me.

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MM: Where do you find inspiration in your day-to-day life?

Riordan: A lot of my inspiration comes from the decades I have experienced.  A pop of colour that reminds me of the 60’s. A neckline that I wore in the 70’s. I’m not reinventing the wheel but I am trying to make it more interesting, more fun. Let’s face it, a woman’s body hasn’t changed from its basic form since Eve. A waist, a bustline, hips. I want to flatter the female body, accentuate the waist, revel in the femaleness.

MM: Here at MM we are very interested in design identity as we talk to designers from all over the world. How has the U.S design scene influenced you? Can you see any cultural influences being based in Indianapolis?

Riordan: I think being based in Indianapolis in the midwest, has allowed my love of outerwear to grow. We have weather of all extremes here. My statement trench coats give women a way to show their personality even on gloomy days. She can walk down the street wearing a Pariah limited edition trench and she can show her strength, her uniqueness. I’m sure the people of Vancouver can appreciate a great trench coat! 

MM: Where do you source your fabrics?

Riordan: I source my fabrics at textile shows. I go to the big ones in NYC. I have a couple of fabric reps in Chicago I use as well.

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MM: Have you found beauty in unexpected places/situations?

Riordan: I like surprises. In some of my creations, there is a reveal, as you will see. From a distance a skirt or a coat may look like a colourful print, but on closer inspection, it’s got chickens on it or the design is comprised of insects.

MM: Can you explain the inspiration behind the F/W18 collection you will be showing at VFW in March?

Riordan: My inspiration for F/W18 is just more of what I want to wear! I want one of each item in my own closet. 

Thank you for giving us an insight into your creative design practises. Catch Pariah’s showcase at Vancouver Fashion Week next month.

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