Asi Efros, a NY-based designer of exclusive high-end sleepwear, recently launched a new collection showcasing the originality and elegance of her Ann Vogue label. I had an opportunity to meet with her and preview the exquisite sleepwear collection firsthand. Here is a segment of our interview in which she talks about the creation of her new company as well as the inspiring personal story which led her to start her own business.
Q: Asi, you have an incredible personal story. Would you share the journey of how you became a designer and the early influences that led you to create your own design house?
A: One of my very first memories from my childhood was of my grandmother sitting at her old mechanical Singer sewing machine, pushing the pedal and navigating fabric under the needle with both hands. I watched her transform plain pieces of material into magnificent dresses. At night, the sound of that machine became my lullaby. It was not long before curiosity pushed me to explore this mysterious contraption.
At that time I was 2 ½ years old and could barely see the top of the table. One day, I reached out over my head and pressed the pedal. Suddenly, the needle came down and pierced my finger. Grandma came running into the room as I yelled, “Grandma, I sewed myself down”. This was the tumultuous start of my career in fashion.
My grandmother was my inspiration and served as an example of dedication to the trade. She taught me how to embroider fine silks, make hems and attach laces by hand. Before I knew it, there wasn’t a creative project that I could not handle on my own. Sewing became my long time passion, hobby and eventually my chosen profession.
During my high school years I attended every sewing and patternmaking class I could find and also took private drawing lessons. After school the obvious choice for me was to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology in St. Petersburg, Russia. I graduated and soon found a job in a small tailoring shop.
In 1989, I moved my family from Russia to New York City. Shortly thereafter, I began taking classes at the Mayer School of Fashion Design and after graduation enrolled in the Patternmaking program at Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. My schedule consisted of working during the day, going to college at night, and sewing custom holiday dresses at home until the morning hours. I saw my son only on the weekends, as he was asleep by the time I came home from college.
I’ve been in fashion now for 22 years and worked for several major design houses in New York City. Even though I had accomplished everything that I had hoped to achieve, something was still missing. I was ready to start a journey of my own and put into work everything I’ve learned over the years. My decision was made very quickly. I left my job and founded my own fashion design house: Ann Vogue, Inc.
Q: Could you tell me what is unique about your company, Ann Vogue, Inc?
A: I wanted to recreate a nearly forgotten process to make every garment special and unique. When I first came across a vintage chemise made at least 100 years ago, I noticed that the entire garment was completely sewn by hand; the little stitches at the French seams were uniform and almost perfect, as was the handwork running along scalloped vintage laces. Only a very inquisitive eye would notice the slight variation in the size and direction of the stitches, which indicated that they were not done on a sewing machine. The seamstress who made this piece and the lady who wore it are long gone, but the garment still exists and doesn’t fail to inspire.
My pieces are made to be timeless and make women feel sexy and beautiful. As was done 100 years ago, I personally select all of the fabrics, laces and trims for my pieces. I use only the finest silk chiffon and charmeuse, French laces and ribbons. Each garment is cut and sewn separately in a lovely sample room in the heart of Manhattan, with me personally overseeing every step of the process.
From my Grandmother’s old Singer sewing machine to the small sewing shop in New York City, I feel that the Ann Vogue collection has been 100 years in the making and has finally come to fruition. It is my humble attempt to build a bridge between generations and keep alive the artistry of this almost forgotten trade.
Q: Where can your collection be purchased?
Only a few pieces of each style are being produced to maintain the exclusivity of this collection. I also cater to personal orders if someone would like to have a garment in their specific size or style. More information can be found at www.annvogue.com.