Story and photography by Nicole McLaren
In typical storybook fashion, Brooklyn-based designer Aviva Falk moved from her Midwestern hometown to the Big Apple in pursuit of her dream of becoming a fashion designer.
Immediately landing an internship with Diane von Furstenberg, Falk has gone on to launch her own line of couture eveningwear under the name, Viva Aviva. Her unique designs and incredible passion for the industry have made her quickly successful in the fashion capital.
“My designs are a reflection of my personality,” she says.
Each of Falk’s pieces is an unexpected twist on the familiar; incorporating elements of masculinity and femininity, final designs are an interplay of freeform and structure. Her unique, sculptural pieces are as much a reflection of the city’s modern architecture as its proclivity for whimsical experimentation. “As an artist, your dream is that your aesthetic resonates with someone. I still get chills when someone buys a piece of my work.”
Falk draws inspiration from the city’s energy, but strives to remain unique despite ongoing trends. “I look at what other designers do, but I don’t let that overwhelm me,” she says. “You can’t be everybody; you just have to be yourself.”
In true couture fashion, all of her patterns are custom-made and hand-sewn from start to finish. “Quality is my most important value,” she proclaims. “Perfection, down to the last detail – buttons, hemmings, etcetera – separates those who are successful from those who aren’t.”
Falk started making her own outfits when she was only 13; watching the Academy Awards, she spotted a celebrity wearing a golden gown and decided to replicate it. “It was fabulously tacky!” she laughs. Growing up as one of eight siblings, she used adventurous styling to express herself, and fashion quickly became a marker by which she defined her experiences.
Once she realized her passion was in design, she transferred from the fashion program at the University of Wisconsin to Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. The couture classes at FIT inspired her to specialize in made-to-measure design. “I was the only one in a class of 40 who wanted to be a designer from the start of the program.”
Her ambition paid off. Falk’s designs have been featured in celebrity stylist El Shane’s blog, and she is currently working with her on a piece for Giuliana Rancic. The Man Repeller has also raved about her signature piece: the structured red dress. “It’s my best selling piece,” says Falk. Most recently, her spring line debuted in the Providence, RI Fashion Week.
Viva Aviva is currently featured in boutiques throughout the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Falk also receives orders through her online website and by word-of-mouth. As a couture designer, she strives to make unique custom garments to suit her customers’ personalities, but also stays true to her style. “If I wouldn’t love it, I won’t make it,” she says.