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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rican creates winning design for Ann Klein’s fashion challenge

Valeria Nicole Martínez with actress Gina Rodríguez

By Iris Edén Santiago

Special to The Star

The passion for fashion has played a pivotal role in the development and evolution of Valerie Nicole Martínez’s stellar career in the competitive world of design.

A graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Martínez recently created the winning design for the Anne Klein Scholar Design Competition, an initiative in collaboration with the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF).

Her design is featured on a commemorative T-shirt sold at, Macy’s stores in the mainland U.S. and online at The profits from the sale of the T-shirt will go to the FSF, a national nonprofit that supports the careers of talented fashion students around the country.

An FSF scholar herself, Martínez is thrilled with the award, one that led her to meet Anne Klein spokesperson and Puerto Rican actress Gina Rodríguez. Both women are featured wearing the T-shirt for the firm’s national campaign supporting the FSF initiative, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the American fashion designer and company founder.

The winning design is a clever portrait of Anne Klein. Martínez used the late designer’s name and logo, and also integrated words that describe her work and legacy. Among the words in the design: powerful, sophisticated, elegant and confident. She used the iconic Anne Klein lion logo as the eyes of the designer in the drawing.

“It was a great experience, loved it,” said Martínez, who was born and raised in the municipality of Las Piedras.

Although a fantastic accolade in her booming career, the award is not her only win. Martínez has been working on her fashion skills all her life. By age 12, she had already designed and presented her first fashion collection. It could be in her genes as her two grandmothers were seamstresses and a significant number of relatives have successful careers in the design and art world. But it could also be her determination.

“Early on I wanted to pursue a career in law or medicine,” she remembers, “but fashion was always a strong contender, and eventually won. I loved making dresses for dolls, always drawing fun looks in a book.”

The 22-year-old illustrator and fashion designer credits local fashion designer and sewing professor Mara García with giving her the tools and inspiration for her first steps in the industry. Choosing SCAD, one of the best colleges for a fashion career in the country, certainly cemented her career and shaped her future.

Martínez, who admires Lebanese fashion designer Zuhair Murad, belongs to a new generation of fashion designers. She enthusiastically talks about her creative process in an industry that is constantly evolving. Technology and new computer software play an important part in her creations.

She uses programs such as Illustrator, CLO3D and other computer-aided design programs and cutting-edge simulation technologies to begin exploring options, silhouettes, colors and textiles, which “saves time and paper -- and promotes sustainability, zero waste sampling.”

Martínez sketches and fine tunes designs and patterns virtually, directly on avatars in her iPad. The work is then transferred to her computer and eventually makes it to her sewing machine for production.

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Her native Puerto Rico, urban music, television shows, climate change, the elegance of Japanese geishas, Marilyn Monroe. Recent collections have been inspired by the community of La Perla in Old San Juan and reggaetón artists such as Bad Bunny, Daddy Yankee and JBalvin.

To view and buy Martínez’s amazing collections visit @its_vale. Her bathing suit collections can be bought at @vnmswim.

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