The looks in Mera Anwar's Miri collection are all about juxtaposition--think rigid silhouettes with soft details, and boyish pieces done in silk chiffon. And her design concepts aren't limited to her work--the idea of contrasts has shaped her life, as well. She studied biochemistry in college, but did a 180 and went into fashion shortly after graduation. She had been making clothes for friends since she was a kid, and quickly landed a gig as a design assistant for Jasmin Santanen. Currently, Anwar keeps a studio in New York but prefers to design in her hometown of Brookville, Maryland.
"New York can be too fast-paced," she says. "In Maryland I have time to think."
We caught up with Anwar to talk about her spring/summer 2012 collection, designing in Washington, and where she looks for inspiration.
So what's your story? Who is Mera Anwar?
I was born in Pakistan and moved to Maryland when I was little. I studied biochemistry at the University of Maryland, then spent eight months as an assistant in Jasmin Santanen's Paris studio. Then I studied at Parsons, and during school I interned with John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferrè, Malo, and Kara Ross. I also had a freelance design gig with J.Crew, and in September 2011 I did a collaboration with Kara Ross, which was presented at Lincoln Center during Fashion Week.
Where are Miri headquarters?
We do production in New York--I'm a huge supporter of the Garment District--but I do [much] of my designing out of my studio in Brookville.
Where did the name Miri come from?
From my nickname, Mers [pronounced "meers"]. The idea is that we watch this girl, Miri, growing up, like the collection itself.
What's special about the brand?
I do a lot of bespoke pieces for clients. That's what's so great about being a small company: You can devote that kind of attention. Once my e-store is live, I want to maintain this tailoring option. I'll speak with clients about measurements, fit, and exactly what they want.
When will the e-store go live?
It will be up, hopefully, by June at the latest.
What is your favorite piece from the spring collection?
I love the tie-dyed T-shirt dresses. They're easy, comfortable, and beautiful.
Do you have a favorite designer?
I love Givenchy. I love that there's rough, raw, edgy detailing, but when you look closely it's so soft and beautiful.
Tell us about your design process.
When I'm starting a collection I sketch it, start draping it, and play with different fabrics and silhouettes. I always make the initial pieces myself, and then send it to production where they make it and size it.
What are the pros of designing in DC?
I have time to think and be inspired. It's much more calm and serene.
Where are your favorite places to shop in Washington?
I love going to Georgetown--hitting the vintage stores up Wisconsin, and then Cusp and Zara and Intermix. And then enjoying a nice brunch!
Any local fashion bloggers you love?
You know, there are really a lot of great bloggers here, Go Kate Shoot and Aureta, especially.
What's one thing from your collection that is essential for every Washingtonian?
A well-tailored blazer--mine will be available online soon!