Before landing in San Francisco in 2003, fashion designer Camelia Skikos, now 39, spent her formative years under Communist rule in Romania, where, she confirms, “uniformity was the norm and individuality was harshly punished.” Skikos’ ingrained discipline manifests as uncommon personal grit, a perfectionist streak that just won’t quit, and a highly intuitive mastery of textiles, colors, and shapes. Her blunt bangs are charmingly severe. The de rigueur color clashes of her clothing, which speak more to expressionism than any neon fad, are rebellious in nature. While Skikos was the head of custom design at Levi’s from 2004 to 2006, she styled such celebrities as Blondie in bespoke denim, giving her a high level of industry cred. The status comes in handy when teaching novice designers at Academy of Art University, a gig she’s been doing for more than a decade. In 2010, Skikos launched her eponymous label with a collection of harnessed and nipped-waist cocktail dresses. Since then, she’s shown at LA Fashion Week, and her sharp threads are hawked locally at Loft 1513 and Wonderland. This fall, Skikos plans to give the trend-adverse something to talk about—a collection emblazoned with SF’s grid lines in a riot of street art–inspired colors.
Tilda Swinton and Björk
Bay Area inspiration
I use SF’s hidden alleys and graffiti murals as inspiration for colors. Caledonia Alley in the Mission is amazing.
Use contrasting colors and textures. I like the harmony of opposing ideas.
Dark chocolate tiles from Poco Dolce
Most treasured piece of jewelry and clothing
People who aren’t afraid to express their individuality
Favorite classic SF experience?
Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Favorite SF street to stroll and why?
Grove Street or Valencia – because of the street art, shops, restaurants, coffee shops...
Favorite public artwork in the Bay Area?
Graffiti/Street art on Clarion Alley
Go-to spot in the Bay Area for a culture fix?
One word to describe the Bay Area:
If you could bring one Bay Area eat to a deserted island to subsist on for the rest of your days, what would it be?
This article was published in 7x7's September 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.