When I look for a fashion designer to interview, I had other option: Christine who works in American apparel. One of classmates introduced me her when I asked him if he knew any designer who I can ask for an interview. However, It seemed to be more interesting to ask Agassi Nakhapetian the interview and, I thought he might be able to tell me more about the career he did for 20 years and the thing he experienced as foreign designer in United State. Since the language barrier I had was the thing that I am most afraid of when I think about getting a job in New York, I wanted to hear from him and he seemed to have answer for this.
I didn’t know if he was a designer, yet I noticed that his class had something different after weeks of class with him. Unlike other draping class I had been through, it wasn’t an old way practiced in school only. He wanted us to be more flexible and taught us the way he did in industry. I thought it might be worth to be brave and ask him if he could give some time for the interview assignment. I asked him if he was working in an industry as a designer now to make sure if he is. He friendly said that he worked for women’s and men’s clothing line as a designer.
That night, I emailed him and asked him if he could help me with interviewing assignment. When I had positive answer from him saying that may be he can make some times after the class , I clearly explained what it is and attached the interview schedule. On March12th, I visited his office right after our Tuesday draping class. It was one of the hardest things for me to ask a person whom I barely knew about the things that I hardly knew. So I tried to be perfect and prepared. I dressed up formally and read the interview questions over and over again.
I followed the aisle in the fashion and art department and I found him behind his desk catching up on his work in his office. As soon as he saw me he called me with bright smile and I sat down and smiled back looking at his blue eyes. He was dressed in jeans and a long-sleeve plaid shirt. It was around 5 p. m. He looked a little bit in a rush, looking at his watch. We had a small talk about the class and I told him the interview was not going take that long. And I didn’t forget to thanks for offering me some time. I was ready to talk and smiled again.
Over the interview of 30 minutes, I had a difficulty in leading the interview and move to the next, yet prof. Nakhapetian proved to be good-humored and friendly answered all questions with his patient. The interview was mostly based on him, his experience, and how he managed it well. He introduced himself as a head designer at CLR and founder of Biome, and said he is launching his menswear clothing line this year. Contrary to my fear, I felt less pressured and relieved. He grew up in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and moved to the United States in 1987.
“After some searching for what to do for my future I passed my BA at Academy of the Arts, in Georgia and had my first job in my favorite company in New York : Mary McFadden. The designer in chief hired me before the end of my internship. ” he said. When he first started his career, he remembered he barely knew what he was doing. He said he only knew the slightest thing about making garments, yet he was truly excited because he was sure it was certainly a dream job for him at the time. Despite the long hours and the lack of respect he sometimes suffered from, he learned a lot, quite fast.
He asked tons of questions to the others and that’s how he knew and finally found that he truly wanted to do something about fashion. “My job is about bringing sense of clarity of vision and purpose into industry and the fashion designer has to have ability to research, analyze and interpret trends without losing the focus on customer and it provides me with vital tools for staying current. ” He had positive experience and difficulties at his job. His favorite experience remains his work as a designer at Mary McFadden. He explained “It was the longest contract I had, and the one that started the earliest.”
He very much enjoyed seeing the process of work over the months from design development to the run way. He loves it. He gave a lot of himself in the work, and it paid off. Yet, it was an everyday challenge to handle the pressure and stress. ”Most of the times, there are extra hours every day and things that became implicitly mandatory. ” he admitted. When asked about his difficulty as an Armenian designer in New York Fashion industry, his answer was simple: “It may have helped me get into the industry, I offered diversity—I think Fashion design is something universal.”
Then he added, “There have been some times when my language barrier was a “handicap”. It was true that I came across one or two unavoidable problems with my understanding and communicating with others at my first career. But I barely have problem now. Of course you can’t avoid the jokes about my accent, but most of the time, it’s quite friendly. ” For 20 years of his work in the industry he hasn’t noticed people giving him different perspective than other coworkers and he explained “it might be because I am not the person who gets bothered by such a thing.”
He didn’t agree with the idea of discrimination as a foreigner. “If it is so, I might try not to pay attention to it and make a big deal about it. And in my mind, it just comes from cultural differences. ” he added. I glanced down at the clock. It was about time to end. I asked the last question “Do you have anything else you’d like to say to people wanting to get into fashion design like me? ” He worried about if his answer might bore me and said “just practice every day and learn about fashion, environment, architecture, and others as much as your brain can handle without blowing up.”
And he pointed out three ways to do to be a good designer “Study the fashion from a designer’s point of view. A notebook never hurts when you do that. Try out new things. ” I finally finished questioning him and said thanks for making some time to tell me about his career and how he managed it and it helped me to get to know about it better. I didn’t know what else to tell him except “Thank you”. I deeply appreciated him offering me time and actively participating in questions without giving me any pressure. As I got up to leave, he glanced down at his computer and said he had to continue his work in his office, arching one of his eyebrows.