Name: Marina Khazana
School: Unionville High School
Studio: Love to Sew Studio
Company: Marina Khazana Collections
In summer of 2009, Marina Khazana, Unionville High School student, was diagnosed with tumoral calcinosis and hyperphosphatemia. These rare medical conditions cause her body to develop calcified tumors, which lead to hospitalization and severe pain.
“There is no cure besides surgical removal and lifestyle change,” she said. “Due to all this, I had to stop dance, gymnastics, and just about every activity I did, which made the years following very lonely and boring.”
To keep busy while resting and recovering, Marina assisted her mom with sewing projects by pressing the sewing machine foot pedal and cutting fabric.
“I realized I was having a pretty good time and (sewing) took my mind off the pain,” she said.
Onto Something Special
Her interest in fashion growing, Marina began taking sewing classes in summer 2013.
“That summer I made my first dress and entered it in a fashion show where I won an award for construction,” she said. “This reassured me that maybe I was onto something special.”
Today, Marina sews garments including ready-to-wear, eveningwear, resort wear, costume pieces for her collections.
“I don’t just want to go along with pre existing trends; instead, my goal is to create new innovative styles to be part of the new wave of fashion,” she said. “I live in a relatively small town where fashion is not as stressed and some trends that may be popular in New York, are not there. Therefore, I wanted to inspire my town with new silhouettes, styles, and cultural influences (and demonstrate) that it’s okay to branch out of the norm sometimes and be daring when it comes to fashion.”
Marina draws inspiration from around the world. She finds regions and their cultures across the globe intriguing.
“When you think about it, there are 195 countries, and within each country are regions and states, and within those are cities/towns,” she said. “Each city and town has its own culture that is one-of-a-kind (and is) influenced by the people there. We live on a very culturally rich planet, but people won’t even get to experience one-twentieth of the many unique cultures.”
Marina expresses the cultures she experiences through styles, colors, music, makeup, expression, and runway ambiance of her collection shows. The collection photographed below resembles elements of Spain.
For her first professional collection, Marina channeled Greek culture throughout the looks. Her favorite being the final piece, a fringe dress.
“Although it wasn’t one of my hardest pieces, I was taking a big risk for my first professional collection,” she said. “That was my first time using a large design element that would be commanding the look.”
She had reservations regarding the color, placement, length and fit of the garment. However, Marina said the dress moved effortlessly on the catwalk.
Try and Try Again
“On almost every piece I come across has an obstacle; however, one of the biggest ones was on a pair of tailored pants that ended up 4 sizes too big,” Marina said.
With no previous experience constructing tailored pants and deadline of a week, she became frustrated and wanted to start from scratch. However, due to the high cost of the fabric, Marina progressively altered the garment to fit her model.
“I had my model come in a few times for a fitting and if I didn’t adjust them right, I just seem ripped my sitch and tried again,” she said.
Belonging and Purpose
Fashion design has provided Marina a sense of belong and purpose since her diagnosis.
“Each day I feel like I have reached someone through my clothes and it has helped me find my path for my future,” she said.
As a high school student, her ability to balance designing and school can be stressful at times. Marina takes part in various school activities that require attendance to late evening practices--and don’t forget about homework and studying!
“Many days, I can’t even find the time to sew when there are deadlines to meet and certain expectations for your clothes to reach,” she said. “There’s no doubt about it that fashion is stressful, but I wouldn’t be the same without it.”
All Worth It
Regards to advice for kids who dream of a career similar to her, Marina said, “I know this may sound cheesey, but it is a very stressful industry, so hard work is necessary. There will be times that you feel mentally exhausted or frustrated, so the key is to remember your passion for your craft and never lose it. Trust me the long nights, broken needles, and red fingers will be all worth it in the end when you see your final creation.”
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