Today I’m talking with Natalie Bendy, the designer behind Dama Talya, a new plus-sized collection launching at New Orleans Fashion Week. As a plus-sized woman, I was completely thrilled to see a designer presenting alongside those who present standard size clothing. It’s fantastic and exciting to see women of all sizes represented at NOLAFW, and I hope this is a trend that continues in the future!
What is your earliest memory of fashion? When did that passion and love begin?
As long as I can remember I have loved fashion. My grandmother made all her own evening gowns for balls and as a child I loved to help her select fabrics and trims to put on her gowns. After she wore them a few times she would give them to me and let me play “dress up” in them. I have never felt so glamorous and beautiful. I knew that I wanted every woman to experience that feeling. It is a memory that I cherish to this day and at 96 she still talks about her “cold shoulder” dresses.
Would you share a bit about your background in fashion and design?
I went to Bauder College in Atlanta, GA and graduated with a degree in fashion design 11 years ago. My experience working as an intern for two influential designers has proven to be invaluable based on the knowledge and skills I gained from their mentoring. My mom (Kim Piraro) and I collaborate with each design and fabrication selection. She has been sewing for over 35 years and can construct anything I can design and come up with. We make an incredible team!
Yes, this is our (Dama Talya) first time presenting in NOLA Fashion Week. We really wanted to show here because, this is HOME to us. Being born and raised in New Orleans has given us a different perspective of Southern living and what is means to appreciate the value of passion, perseverance, and hard work.
I was really drawn to your collection and mission because I am a plus-size woman! What inspires you about designing for the plus-size figure, as opposed to standard sizes like most runway fashion?
Our true inspiration as always is the plus size body. We believe a plus size woman IS something to design for. We like all designers strive to make women feel confident and beautiful. But, what makes us a little different in the plus size industry is that we (Dama Talya) aspire to be the trend setters and not adapt to the already set mass market garments and trends. Our main goal for producing our clothing line is to promote size acceptance is the fashion industry and give plus size women more designer/stylish options to wear.
Our greatest inspirations are the lines and curves of the body. After conquering the shape in general, we focus on what fabrications would compliment those curves. We pull inspiration from everything and everywhere. I personally love the late ’40s and early ’50s and the fact that women would dress up for everyday outings.
New Orleans Fashion Week runs Saturday, September 28th through Saturday, October 5th. Dama Talya’s runway presentation is tonight, Monday, September 30th at 6:45 pm. To purchase tickets or find out more, visit New Orleans Fashion Week.
Check out Shercole’s post on the Dama Talya runway show at Minority Weirdos! The dresses have gorgeous and dramatic movement in them.