by Bahman Mahdavi
Legendary Designer Mark ZuniNo Talks Fashion
Those who grew up with California native Mark Zunino would probably never have imagined seeing him where he is today. But a chance opportunity to work with legendary and Emmy Award-winning designer Nolan Miller helped to start Mark’s amazing career. Under Nolan, Mark worked with the defining women of glamour in Hollywood – Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and Barbara Streisand, just to name a few. These experiences, his exposure to European fabric makers, and the couture business all tremendously influenced his focus on old Hollywood glamour. When launching his own line in 1998, Mark incorporated a modern interpretation to his label, which has been worn by top celebrities, including Angelina Jolie and Heather Locklear. His success has led to new fashion lines including Mark of Style with QVC and Mark Zunino for Kleinfeld Bridal. But despite his busy schedule, Beverly Hills Lifestyle was able to catch up with Mark at Sofitel Los Angeles for an exclusive photo shoot featuring his gowns modeled by the top divas of television: Joan Collins, Donna Mills and Nadia Bjorlin.
How did you get started?
I was originally studying architecture at Pepperdine and dabbling in graphic illustration. One of the required courses I took was fashion illustration, and the Professor happened to also be a costume designer. Something my father used to always say is that you can’t wait around for the phone to ring. Well, one day the phone did ring and it was my professor asking if I would be interested in applying to be the assistant fashion designer for Nolan Miller and Aaron Spelling for Spelling’s TV series Dynasty. I wanted to meet both of them, and long story short I got the job. The reason Nolan hired me was because he felt I had the talent and potential, and because I was a clean slate with no knowledge of fashion design. I could absorb a lot from Nolan and could learn from the ground up. When I told my family, my dad said, “You won’t throw away the education we just paid for you. I want to fly to LA and see what’s up.” The day he came we were working with Anne Margaret and Sophia Lauren. After that, my father said I could work there as long as I like.
What is your process in creating your designs?
It can start in several different ways, such as from a silhouette or from a fabric. Sometimes it may be inspired by a vacation or an environment I am in. From there, it is non-stop sketching, and once I start on a concept I am passionate about, I give it to my pattern maker and together we start tweaking it. The creative process never stops. Eventually we fit it on a model, but it is still a continuously evolving process, all the way to the last stitch. We do not stop until we decide it is the perfect garment.
Your designs are described as a modern reinterpretation of old Hollywood glamour. What is it that attracts you to this style?
I love glamour. Glamour is glamour. There is a certain formula that makes every woman feel sexy and the best they have ever felt. When I started, I worked with people like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Lauren and absorbed their styles. I have carried this style when working with celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry, and when creating wedding gowns. There is an inner confidence that emits from a person when dressed glamorously, you can see it in the way she moves and walks. She becomes alive and that is what fashion is all about.
What was the most valuable lesson you gained when working with Nolan Miller that you use in your designs today?
Starting from the inside out, like the foundation of a house. You can enhance the shape of a woman’s body and hide any flaws, making her feel better about herself.
What inspired you to create a bridal collection and what has it been like compared to couture?
I see dressing a bride to walk down the aisle to be the same as dressing a celebrity to walk down the red carpet; it is that moment where all eyes are on her. She wants to look her best and I want her to feel her best.
What can we expect to see next from you?
A lot. There are additional fashion projects that I am working on and a few movies that I have been asked to work in. Everything is changing right now and and it never stops being exciting.
Photography: JSquared Photography
Fashion Stylist: Rene´ Horsch
Hair&Makeup: Uzmee Krakovszki
Hairstylist: Travisean Haynes: Aim Artists
Art Director: Michael Piombo
Location: Sofitel Los Angeles www.SofitelLosAngeles.com
Dame Joan Collins waits on Sofitel’s dramatic mezzanine before descending down to dinner at Esterel restaurant. Wearing a MARK ZUNINO black Italian matt jersey side draped cocktail dress with teal crystals $4,200, black lamb skin bolero jacket with teal silk satin lining $3,600, kid skin opera gloves $1,200, stiletto pumps by Jimmy Choo. Bracelet by Peter Marco 71.90 carats diamond Princess cut in 18K white gold $345,000. Earrings by Nolan Miller.
Ms. Mills, on Sofitel Los Angeles’ dramatic spiral staircase, invites guests to join her upstairs in her Penthouse Suite. She is wearing a MARK ZUNINO black lambskin portrait collared jacket $4,100, jet sequined chiffon side draped cocktail skirt with English cut jet beaded tassel $3,400, jet beaded French Chantilly lace brassiere $1,200. Cross pendant 8.02 ct princess cut 2.23 ct round center diamond $35,460, necklace & bracelet by Peter Marco prices upon request. Cocktail ring Nolan Miller.
Nadia Bjorlin holding court in Sofitel Los Angeles’ lobby, Nadia is wearing a MARK ZUNINO nude shaded silk ribbon embroidered net gown with hand beaded accents and multi layered silk organza flounce $28,000.00. Black diamond dropped earrings from 14 Karats Beverly Hills. Smokey quartz cocktail ring by MARK ZUNINO