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Designer Robert Arredondo

San Jose fashion designer Robert Arredondo takes evening wear to the next level at Brix show

PERHAPS IT’S a wedding, a prom or just a really hot date, but sometimes a girl wants to wear something totally different and unique—the sort of outfit one would never find at Macy’s. Enter the world of haute couture.

French for “high dressmaking,” haute couture are custom-fitted, exclusive garments put together with heavy attention to detail by skilled tailors for private clients.

When most people think “haute couture,” they think of Paris, where the term is actually legally protected and can only be used by certain qualified design houses.

But downtown San Jose–based fashion designer Robert Arredondo wants to change that perception. “The tradition of working one-on-one with the designer, letting them know exactly what it is that you’re looking for, and having something specially made for you that’s made exactly to your measurements and you know no one else is going to have it—that’s the kind of service I want to bring to a wider cliental,” says Arredondo.

“It’s [couture] not just for people who can afford to pay thousands of dollars for something. It can also be for somebody where a couple hundred is more in their price range.”

Specializing in women’s eveningwear, Arredondo will be unveiling his Fall/Winter 2010 collection at Brix Nightclub in downtown San Jose this Saturday. The free Arredondo Clothing Fashion Show starts at 8pm.

The 33-year-old dressmaker says that he first became interested in sewing and fashion back in middle school. By the time he was in his mid-teens, Arredondo says he had fallen into a lifetime love of creating one-of-a-kind ball gowns and luxurious dresses.

“I did a lot of prom dresses back when I was in high school, so that’s where I got a lot of my experience as far as pattern making and clothing constriction,” he says.

Arredondo went onto the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. By the early 2000s, he had segued his technical training into a career in freelance couture, making individual made-to-measure pieces for private clients around the Bay Area.

Arredondo names off avant-garde English designers like the late Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood as his design muses. This season, he has expanded Arredondo Clothing to include day wear, separates and cocktail attire. He says he was largely influenced by suiting and men’s styles in the collection he will be unveiling this weekend.

“It’s inspired by classic menswear pieces, like the button-down shirt, the T-shirt, the pant, the pleated-front trouser,” he says. “I’m taking and translating them into a more feminine silhouette. I’m taking the idea of the masculine, taking like a casual look, and changing it and making it a little bit more sexy.”

Arredondo, a downtown San Jose resident himself, is a regular at Brix’s weekly Wednesday trivia night. He says he actually booked the nightclub as the venue to show his fall 2010 collection totally by accident.

“I just mentioned to Joe the bar manager that ‘hey, I want to do a show but I haven’t been able to find a place, what do you guys think?’” he says. “And the next day he called me and said that they wanted to host it.”

Arredondo sees his upcoming fashion show as an opportunity for potential clients to expose themselves to his work, as well as possibly book an appointment.

“It’s more of a jumping-off point for people to get inspired and say, ‘Oh, I have this event coming up, I think I may look into having something made especially for me, instead of just going to the mall or going to a department store,” Arredondo explains. “So, it’s kind of a very tangible business card, if you will, the shows that I do. It’s an example of my technique.”

Arredondo Show
Saturday, 8pm,
@ Brix, San Jose