Designer Oscar Olima understands that stage presence and fashion savvy are often closely intertwined. He cites Grace Jones and Siouxsie Sioux as inspirations for his womenswear line Olima Atelier, which he deems “for the sophisticated rock & roll muse” in his tagline. A fan of the avant-garde, he particularly admires Alexander McQueen‘s work and fantasizes about one day working with Bjork. “I think designers and musicians simply go hand in hand,” Olima remarks.
Olima grew up in Los Angeles and has anchored his professional career there. He worked for several LA-based designers, including by Park Pleating (with whom he credits his impressive trim and detailing skills), before deciding to strike out on his own, hoping to prove that LA and luxury design can go hand-in-hand. Working out of his home, he debuted with an autumn/winter ’10 collection, entitled “Trecedim.” The collection was almost exclusively black, and totally glam: strips of patent leather slickly snaking down black sheer blouses, leather-patched form-fitting dresses, draped wool trousers and a pearl-stud-shouldered black cape.
By contrast, his spring/summer ’11 collection, “Paraiso,” was lighter and breezier. “I think I wanted to get [using black] out of my system,” Olima admits. “For spring, I took a completely different direction.” His love of see-through fabrics and use of pleated verticality remains present in his work, but the “Paraiso” collection indeed veers onto a totally different path than his glamorous, yet tough looking début. Olima’s s/s ’11 outfits include sheer white tops, plaid grey shorts, high-waisted wide-leg white pants, airy trapeze dresses and nightie-like tunics with cut-out shoulders. And yet, it’s Olima’s one-shouldered gathered-organza volume-tastic white minidress that’s the show-stopper. “I love, love organza!” he exclaims. “I find myself using [it] more than other fabrics. The body it has is so great to work with.”
Olima has also already worked closely with Lady Gaga, for whom he designed the “Ice Queen” dress that she sported during her Monster Ball Tour and is probably one of the least outlandish outfits she’s worn in the last year. “I don’t pay much attention to today’s pop culture, but Gaga is the most fascinating thing right now in the world of pop,” he enthuses.
And through it all, music also permeates his creative process: “I actually can’t work on a design unless I have music playing in the background,” Olima admits. Lately this has been Roisin Murphy, but given his music-inclined inspiration, we’re apt to see many more songstresses manifest in Olima’s stylistic repertoire.