Senior Spotlight: Cara Benevenia
For this week's Senior Spotlight, we got to know senior designer Cara Benevenia. Read our exclusive interview below to learn more about Cara and the incredible collection she's presenting at this year's Silver Needle Runway Show. Make sure to follow the @maristfash Snapchat to see Cara take over for the day!
K&E: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you’re from, if you have a minor, anything you’d like people to know about you?
Cara: Well…my full name is Cara Ann Benevenia and I am a born and raised Jersey Girl. Growing up, my life revolved around food, family, faith, and eventually, of course, fashion…I can speak Italian, play the piano, and my great grandfather actually became a tailor when he emigrated to the US from Italy.
K&E: What has your 4-year journey in the Marist fashion program been like?
Cara: This journey has honestly been one that I would not trade for the world. The amount that I have grown, both as a designer and an individual throughout my time at Marist, is immeasurable. However, I could have never prepared myself enough for the roller coaster of emotions these four years have taken me on. At Marist, I learned what it is like to succeed and what it is like to fail. I’ve learned what it is like to let others influence your work, and what it is like to listen to your gut. Above all, I’ve learned that the success of a fashion designer is not only contingent upon raw talent, but how much you let your work speak from none other than your heart.
K&E: What is a typical day for you like while capping as a senior designer?
Cara: My day usually starts with a 7 AM alarm and hitting snooze until my anxiety tells me I need to get my butt over to the studio or else I’ll be working on the floor. Then, I’ll jump in the shower, get dressed, and head over to Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee to kickstart my day. Once I get to the studio, I stake out a table, thread up a machine, and plan out what I need to accomplish that day. Occasionally I’ll leave for class, or to pick up food, or even have a mental breakdown and have to call my mom. When the yawns and burning eyes signal the end of my workday, I clean up my station, hit the sheets, and dread the blaring alarm that I know is coming for me in 6 hours….
K&E: What inspires you as a designer, where do you find inspiration?
Cara: My inspiration comes from my ultimate goal as a designer; to create clothing that excites women and makes them feel beautiful, confident, and empowered to make a change in our world.
K&E: How has your work changed in the time that you have been a design major at Marist?
Cara: It actually took me until senior year to finally come out of my shell, and to realize something very important; the only person I need to make happy at the end of the day, is myself. I followed my heart and decided not to let my work be influenced in any way by my surroundings. I feel that my final collection as a Marist student is purely a culmination of everything I have learned in my four years here as a design major, both physically and emotionally.
K&E: Are there any specific designer(s) that inspire you?
Cara: Jeremy Scott. Hands down. He helped me always remember that fashion is supposed to be fun. Fashion is supposed to make people excited to wear the clothes that you design. No matter what criticism comes his way he never ceases to remain true to his identity as a designer, and that is something I admire greatly.
K&E: Do you have any hobbies outside of fashion design?
Cara: I do, surprisingly. I’m a runner. Or at least, was a runner…. Running to me is the best outlet for when I am stressed and hit a creative block. I actually reached my running peak junior spring when I ran the NYC half marathon, but now, after 3 capping classes in one year, I’m not actually sure I can make it up the infamous McCann steps without stopping to catch my breath at the top.
K&E: What advice would you give to younger designers or prospective Marist Fashion students?
Cara: Fashion Design is not just your major or something you like to do in your spare time. Fashion Design becomes who you are. It’s something that runs through your mind all day, keeps you awake at night, and sometimes makes you so upset you won’t want to get out of bed. You have to be ready to let your heart speak through everything you produce and to have your heart broken when your vision is not understood or realized to the best of your ability. Your work will be your best friend some days, and your worst enemy other days. When you can finally step back and see your work in the flesh, the drastic high will make your heart soar through the roof and you’ll forget all about how the lows and the tears made you feel worthless. Only then will your realize what it was all worth.
K&E: How do you approach design?
Cara: Although I didn’t always approach design this way, I believe that the most successful designers approach design with a very open mind. You can’t close yourself off into a tin box where it’s your way or the highway. You have to be open to criticism and learn from your mistakes. You can’t design one print or one textile manipulation or make one muslin sample and call it a day. You have to beat your ideas to the most brutal death until you are able to realize your vision to its fullest potential.
K&E: Could you tell us a little bit about your creative process/design process?
Cara: My design process is honestly all over the place; I don’t think I’ve ever made a plan for my collection and stuck to it. One day I’ll be set on a design or an inspiration, and the next day it will be totally different. In my opinion, Fashion moves so fast that I don’t think making a set plan is conducive to a successful collection that’s fully realized an entire year after it’s conceived. My senior collection was designed piece by piece as I progressed through this semester, and consequently, I had no idea what my collection was going to look like at the end. Designing my collection this way was definitely a HUGE risk, but to me, the apprehension was what kept my motivation at a steady high for four months.
K&E: How do you get your ideas from concept to the finished product?
Cara: This is going to sound so cliché, but my ideas honestly just come to me. I'll either be in the car, walking on campus, eating at a restaurant, or lying in bed, and I'll have a vision of my next look. When I’m inspired, I’m inspired and BAM I’ve whipped up a jumpsuit in one weekend. When I’m not inspired, however, I hit a low of all low points and you should probably avoid me like the plague.
K&E: Could you describe your collection in three words?
Cara: Funky, feminine, fun
K&E: Describe the women/man who would wear your collection.
Cara: My clothes are for the woman who wants to feel beautiful and confident every single day….and who doesn’t want to feel beautiful and confident?
K&E: Have any personal experiences inspired your collection?
Cara: Everything that I am and have grown to stand for has inspired my senior collection. I feel that my senior collection is truly Cara Benevenia in fashion form, and so vividly depicts how my life experiences have shown me the beauty of life even in the darkest of times. If the happiness that making my clothes can reflect off of the women who aspire to wear my designs, then I have succeeded as both a human and as a designer.