San Juan native wins prestigious fashion design award
By John McPhaul
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) announced late last week that San Juan native Valeria Martínez, who is studying fashion design, was recognized as a 2022 Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) winner at the “FSF Live” gala in New York City.
A total of 19 students – the most of any university – from SCAD’s top-ranked School of Fashion earned national recognition in the ultra-competitive program, totaling over $165,000 in scholarships.
“To receive the Fashion Scholarship Award feels like a great accomplishment. It fills me with joy and satisfaction to be able to make this big step in my career, which is filled with many opportunities,” Martínez said. “I am proud to be able to represent Puerto Rico and SCAD with this award.”
Martínez and other SCAD students were selected out of thousands of entries across 65 universities, each developing imaginative case studies reviewed by a panel of industry icons representing major brands and designers.
Since 2019, SCAD has won an unprecedented portion of scholarship funds from FSF for its students, totaling over $600,000. SCAD offers one of the most elite, connected and comprehensive fashion programs in the world with undergraduate and graduate degrees in accessory design, business of beauty and fragrance, fashion, fashion marketing and management, fibers, jewelry and luxury and fashion management.
Students of the program network with expert insiders through virtual showcases and global red-carpet events and earn international accolades from Vogue, The Met’s Costume Institute, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and others. SCAD fashion alumni launch their own lines and dress cultural icons such as Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Zendaya, Maren Morris and Tracee Ellis Ross, and lead the industry into the future at international houses such as Chanel, Thom Browne and Marc Jacobs.
Martínez said she always dreamed of being a fashion designer.
“Since I was a kid I always knew I wanted to be a fashion designer,” she said. “I used to try to make garments for my Barbie dolls and have sketchbooks filled with designs. I always had a passion for fashion; when I was 12 years old, I started modeling back home. I met Mara García, who became my first fashion design professor and gave me exposure to the industry in Puerto Rico. I kept designing and sewing until I finally graduated high school and became part of the SCAD community.
Martínez said she doesn’t have a particular style.
“I like to explore when it comes to design. I don’t feel like I have a specific style, but I have different goals/visions when creating a garment,” she said. “I currently am concentrating on doing ready-to-wear clothing, but I had previously focused on evening wear when I first started designing. I don’t like to put myself in a box when there’s a world of possibilities.”
Martínez said her main goal -- the basis of her inspiration -- is to make people confident about themselves.
“When designing, I like to keep sustainability and the target market in mind,” she said. “I usually get inspired by situations and, specifically, the personality of the person I am designing for. I ask myself: What kind of garment would make this person feel more confident? Does it fit the event they are going to?”