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David Sirota is a Study Abroad alumnus and designer bridging the gap between art and fashion. He spoke with us about the process of creating his debut collection and his journey to becoming a designer. From the artist's studio to the runway during Paris Fashion Week, David's story explores the symbiotic relationship between art and fashion.

How would you describe your Sotheby’s Institute of Art experience? 

My experience at Sotheby’s Institute of Art was wonderful and I’m grateful to have been part of such an incredible and dynamic group of people who all share a love for art. I learned so much from my professors and peers who were from all parts of the world. I was able to immerse myself in knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom more than I ever have before. I look forward to applying this knowledge as I move forward in life and in my fashion design work. 

What drove your decision to apply to the Sotheby’s Institute Study Abroad program? 

As a student at the University of Southern California, I knew that I wanted to study abroad during my college years. I looked at countless programs and immediately recognized that this was the right program for me. I wanted to have a foundation in art beyond the history component. I craved a deeper understanding of the art market, art law, and the business dynamics that make up the art world. I also wanted to learn more about the luxury market. This program wholeheartedly fulfilled my desires. 

What was the inspiration behind your first fashion collection, The Artist’s Collection? 

I believe art and design speak multiple languages, connect through generations, and carry manifold narratives. The biggest influence on my work has been Surrealism. I am captivated by artists like Dalí and Magritte. Their intentions to push the boundaries of what constitutes the conscious from the subconscious mind speak to me. They broke away from traditional subject matter and allowed their imaginations to take charge. They paved the way for many creatives, including myself, to be able to operate on illusion and self-expression through color and obscurity.  

Fashion and art are intertwined, and one cannot exist without the other. I realized this as I evolved as an artist. I needed to combine art and fashion to fully express myself. Last summer, I had the opportunity to attend Parsons School of Design in Paris. I was immersed in design, working in a studio firsthand. I had never used a sewing machine before. I felt much more comfortable in an artist’s studio working with brushes, paints, and a canvas, but I remembered Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí. I channeled them to guide my work and give me creative direction. 

For my final assignment, I created two looks: a couture dress with a hand-painted top and a two-piece ensemble consisting of a hand-painted skirt and faux fur top. I researched Azzedine Alaïa and Hubert de Givenchy in great depth. They were my inspirations as well. I wanted to fuse artistic influence into my projects. Thus, one can see faces, colors, and other connections all paying homage to Picasso, Chagall, and Matisse in the clothes. 

What was it like to debut your first collection at Paris Fashion Week? 

I was fortunate enough to participate in an emerging designers show for AlwaySupporTalent during Paris Fashion Week. I was the youngest designer there. Words cannot describe how I was feeling after my pieces were on the runway. If somebody had told me that I would be debuting my very first designs during Paris Fashion Week, I wouldn’t have believed them. Seeing my canvases moving on figures and coming to life is thrilling and validating. I am motivated now, more than ever, to continue creating new pieces for those who wear them to feel beautiful. 

How has your background as an artist influenced your approach to fashion design? 

As I continue my creative ambitions, I mix hand paint and various textiles such as faux fur and muslin. My designs are provocative and artistic yet elegant and timeless, with ruffled edges like a raw canvas. They’re deconstructed just like my artworks and up for interpretation as I aim to create enigmas in my pieces. Surrealist and Art Deco elements continue to inspire my design process, whether communicated by the fold, rupture, opening, or color of a garment. Seeing my designs come to life is like a vision of ecstasy. It is my goal that those who wear them feel the same. 

What advice or tips would you give to Sotheby’s Institute applicants? 

I think it is truly important to figure out what it is about the art/luxury world that captivates you. Maybe you’re an artist, and you want to learn more about your place in the art world. Maybe you’re a collector and want to learn more about the pieces you have. I wanted a strong foundation in art and luxury to be able to center my work. Once you identify what captivates you, embrace it and let it shine through in your work. Then, you should connect how Sotheby’s Institute can help you achieve your goals and how you can contribute to the community.