Vicken Derderian, architect and fashion designer

Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in Global View | No Comments

Vicken Top image


Vicken Derderian, architect and fashion designer


Vicken Derderian is one of 10 Academy of Art University M.F.A Fashion Design graduates who earlier this month presented their SS14 collections in New York at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Vicken’s senior thesis collection was strongly influenced by his architecture background and each of his beautifully structured dress was remnant of some of the tallest buildings in the world. Before attending the Academy of Art, Vicken completed a degree in Architectural Design from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. At the Institute of Architecture he also educated himself in Furniture Fabrication & Design as well as Fine Artistry.

This background is clearly evident in Vicken’s latest collection, which he describes as “a skyline where as you move closer reveals an increasing amount of details.” Using a combination of A-line and inverted A-line silhouettes, Vicken brings this skyline to life with sheer and opaque fabrics. His use of greys and blue mixed with bronzy embroidery further imitate the reflections one may notice on a shiny building.

Vicken03After finishing school this past summer, Vicken moved back to Pasadena, California where he was born and raised. There, with fashion season over, Vicken is now also working on some architecture projects. He hopes that working between two professions will help his designs grow on both sides of the spectrum providing new perspectives into both his fashion and architectural creative practices. In the near future, Vicken plans on hosting a static show in Los Angeles, which will feature many of the looks from Fashion Week along with his furniture design and fine art work.

Vicken’s portfolio will soon be available online; you can also catch some of his work and visual diary on Pinterest. I was lucky to be able to meet with Vicken in San Francisco.

Vicken, what were your initial thoughts when starting work on this collection?
When I first started thinking about what I wanted my collection to look … to feel like, I envisioned a series of sailboats far on the horizon.
With this in mind, I wanted to try and set up a dialogue between two architectures – one of containers of space and the other, more intimate, the architecture of the body. This dialogue really interested me and I think this will be the underlying theme of my collections to come.

I also wanted to convey to the viewer the confidence of the woman that would wear my designs. I find a woman’s confidence very engaging. Her sensuality, her sexuality, her vulnerability – all stems from her confidence.

Do you feel like you achieved these goals?
Yes I think so. The collection definitely challenges the ideals of the human body – the body’s movement through space, and the construction of layers that enclose or expose it on many scales.

What did you find to be the biggest challenge in bringing your collection to this point?
The most challenging thing was letting go of how I define a garment. The design process is quite organic. If you try to control it too much it falls apart. It is about becoming comfortable with trying new ideas, making design mistakes, dissecting the issue and discovering a good resolution.  Here initially it was about letting go of the human form and design clothes conceived as objects rather than garments or something someone wears.  I have always felt that pushing a project to its edge, even if it does not work, has more value than just simply making a pretty garment.

You have a strong architecture background. How did this affect your creative process?
I feel that this duality played a big role both in the design and fabrication of my collection. Blending the two professions allowed me to get to the final product, starting with the inception of the basic forms all the way to their construction. I was constantly thinking of the interaction between the environment/the space which garment and wearer will occupy and also the space that a woman will occupy within the garment.

Also, I carried out the pattern making and correcting process using an  architectural drafting software so I was able to just print large markers when I was ready to cut fabric.

Describe your experience at NY Fashion Week. How do you feel this experience will benefit your career?
I had no time for real emotions. From the first day to the last day in the NY studio it was all business. It was about getting things done for the show.
On the last day when we packed up the garments to get to the show I finally felt a bit relieved but also a bit nervous when I started thinking about my work being exposed to such a large audience!

It really is a privilege to have the opportunity to receive a higher education and later being able show the culmination of all that work during such a prestigious event as Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week. Participating to the actual dynamics of the show was very interesting too. From getting to the venue, to being interviewed, to seeing the finished garments on the runway, to actually walking on the runway myself.

Vicken Derderian

Vicken Derderian

Is there anyone particular who has been a major influence during your training at AAU?
All the instructors that I have had at AAU have had an influence on me. They have each provided direction and advice as I progressed. The conversations I’ve had in the studio with fellow students, whether during my undergraduate degree or at AAU, were also very valuable and influential. It is in this arena that we truly learn about ourselves. These experiences help us as designers to learn how to refine our ideas.

What advice would you give to someone who is about to start studying fashion?
Don’t become satisfied and complacent. Keep pushing your work and ideas until they reach their limits.

Slideshow images courtesy of Randy Brooke.


Written by Bethany Mullinix

Bethany Mullinix

Bethany is a publicist at SutherlandGold Group is San Francisco where she has had the privilege of working with a wide range of consumer tech and enterprise startups such as Apartment List,, Comcast Ventures, CardSpring, and Solar Universe. However, her true love is fashion.

As a child, Bethany would painstakingly design garments for her Barbies, as her father watched in wonderment, questioning his eight-year-old’s taste for micro-mini skirts! Today Bethany channels this love of fashion and design into her writing, taking inspiration for the best and avoiding vapid fashion magazines too easily bent by advertising. Her main goal as a journalist is to make people understand fashion the way she does – as much more than playing dress-up. Above all, fashion makes her feel good and through her writing she hopes to share this feeling with others.

In addition to ModeConnect, Bethany has written for variety of fashion and lifestyle outlets including Fashion School Daily, Paper Pearl and The World According To. She also manages her own online magazine, MOXIE, which she began as part of her M.F.A. Fashion Journalism thesis while at the Academy of Art University. In addition to an MFA, Bethany holds a B.A. in Journalism/PR from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
You can follow Bethany on twitter at @bethanymullinix