Mary Virginia Ayres has been in love with fashion for as long as she can remember.
“If my mom put me in an outfit I didn’t like, I would cry until she put me in one I preferred,” Ayres said. “As a kid, I would wear anything and everything I wanted. I’m talking a red ball gown with cowboy boots at my sister’s tennis match.”
Now 22 and about to graduate from the University, she’ll soon be headed to New York City to work for Marchesa. Although she didn't know how to sew until her second year of college, it didn't slow her down. She entered a collection in New Orleans Fashion Week, participated in the LSU Fashion Show, became the Fashion Show chair and studied in Paris. But, she said she plans on doing even more.
Ayres said her passion for design continued to grow as she did. From sketching designs in class when she was younger, to creating her most recent collection, her love for design was always there.
Her personal style is self-described as "a day-by-day kind of thing." She focuses on continuing to grow and evolve and never living the same day twice.
"It's amazing how many things you can recognize about yourself and the amount of aspirations and emotions you can feel just by picking out a certain style garment," Ayres said.
She brings this growth and passion into her brand as a designer, so she creates designs that are detailed, embellished and with a message behind them.
"Every person has some kind of platform to stand up for something and it's important for all of us to use our platform, including me," Ayres said.
Ayres said she uses her platform as a designer to help women not only look good, but feel good.
"I believe clothes bring out people’s emotions, personality, hopes and dreams. It is the first thing people notice about you and it is your way to present yourself how you want to the world," Ayres said. "My clothes are meant for all women of all shapes and sizes who want to express their uniqueness and celebrate their differences. Bottom line: all women should feel beautiful and strong, and my clothes help express that."
Ayres said her confidence and opportunities to continue pursuing her dreams is all that to her friends and family, especially her mother and father. She said her father was responsible for bringing her to New York and helping her fall in love with the city, as well as helping her realize she can do anything she sets her mind to.
"My dad has spent the last 22 years of his life trying to give me the world," Ayres said. "He has spent countless hours working overly hard to make sure I can reach my dreams. He’s the one that for every time I got scared of not being good enough, he was right there to tell me not to even think it. He saw things for me that even I couldn’t have seen yet. He is always right there believing in me."
Ayres said she not only got confidence from her mother, but also her creativity as well.
"My mom has always been more than just a mom, but a friend, too. She is one of the most creative [and] talented women I know, and luckily, she gave some of that to me, though my dad would argue it came from him," Ayres said.
She said her interest in fashion and her creativity were encourage from her mother, who let her express herself freely.
"She was always there when I wanted to show my designs to someone, and she has always encouraged me. She reminds me all of the time to not worry about what others think of me, but to live for myself," Ayres said. "There’s a real sense of freedom that comes from allowing yourself to be completely you. She gave me that freedom."
Ayres says she is currently living her dream and enjoying every single day of being a designer. Her next collection will be shown at the LSU Fashion Show on Wednesday, May 9, at 5 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.
"The collection is inspired by the empowerment of women and women of the past, present, and future who have made major contributions to society and who have been unapologetically female," Ayres said.
Ayres sells her clothes on a custom basis. Clients can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.