CHESTNUT HILL — Nirva Derbekyan entered Stil Inc. Boutique at the Mall at Chestnut Hill wearing a white-gray Russian fur hat on her head, burden down with layers and her collection tucked away in dry-cleaning bags. She doffs the cap, smiles sweetly and genuinely as she unveils her Spring 2010 collection.

Nirva previewed the collection at Mizu Salon at the Prudential Center. The immaculate white walls, the white chairs and salon stations, gave the illusion of length to the narrow corridor which acted as the runway. Against this, the peacock blues bloomed, peached pinks blushed, and grays warmed. Each piece in her collection, as Nirva explained, are cohesively connected to one another by common themes or details, and yet, each are unique, each stand alone. The setting of Mizu Salon emphasized this distinctness from each piece as each claimed focus as they came down the runway.

Born in Armenia, Nirva lived for a time in Canada before coming to Boston. She attended Massachusetts College of Art before attending a few classes at the University of the Arts in London. She became interested in fashion at the young age of 10 from the encouragement of an art teacher. She also became involved by reading Archie comic books, regularly submitting her sketches in their contests for fashion.

Nirva described her spring collection as "feminine, with a little edge." This collection was inspired by a trip she took last spring to her home country, Armenia.

"Different aspects of the country were inspiring, from street sculpture n the city, the snow covered mountains in the country, the bright blue skies, to the orange hued carved stones on the monasteries. The joy I felt and the sadness of the history of my culture had a part in the inspiration as well."

One can sense the allusions to Armenia: from the rich hues of blue that remind of a beachy sky over the Black Sea, oranges and whites, or even the gold. Much of the line features knotting, draping and embroidery, which Nirva reflected, reminded her of the crocheting that her grandmother did.

The 24-piece line includes dresses: short and long, as well as a few tunics, like the silk white or red pieces that could be cinched in with a belt, worn over leggings or jeans for a more casual light-hearted look. With every Nirva collection, color is essential to threading the pieces together. "Color sets the mood," says the designer, "and makes a collection cohesive."

Although each piece is singular and pronounced from one another by the intensity of color, each retains a likeness which binds the collection strongly together. The designs by Nirva integrate the use of drapery, hand-beading, and a certain subtle degree of couture. The designer is more attracted to blending together hues and shades of a color, rather than matching. Such is the case with a short sea-blue dress with light green and lavender patterns. To contrast the richness of the blue, Nirva mix-ed in a dull gray piece which wraps around the waist, artfully blossoming in the center with gold dazzling gems.

"This collection is vibrant and romantic, mostly with interesting belts," Nirva described, "A confident woman who wants a unique quality designed item would wear these pieces to galas, cocktail parties, house parties or even work…I hope my designs make her feel elegant and magical, exuding happiness!"

While the designer prefers an overall clean, perfected look, some pieces, she felt however, worked better looking a little rough. On the short sea-blue dress, the hem of the gray was left unfinished, adding to the texture of its draping affect. Another dress, a gold silk mini, also came across "a little dirty" as Nirva said, and unstructured. The gold silk overlays atop another piece of material to give a shifting illusion and "dirtying" affect. The dress was hand-draped ("which was so fun to do), and streams down the dress like a river Nirva saw on her trip in Armenia. The piece very much embodies both elegance and freedom, as glittering white beads cluster off-center and fade out across the dress like stars.

The line will appear in the Fashionably Late series at the Liberty Hotel on March 11.

Designs by Nirva are tailored for women ages 20, 30, "even 50," Nirva suggested. They are touched by high-end details, yet are refined and casual. The pieces concentrate on individual styles, individual tastes, so that one wearing a Nirva dress would certainly know they are wearing a one-of-a-kind and very special dress. She even offers services to have one her designs custom-made to the fit the wearer’s body, and some designs may be ordered in different colors.

Currently, Designs by Nirva are available at Stil Inc. Boutique at the Chestnut Hill Mall, Matsu on Newbury St. and from Nirva’s own studio in Lexington.

About The Author

Lee Hershey is Boston-based a fashion model who aspires to be a fashion journalist. She is a recent French and English Literature graduate of Simmons College. She recently started the clothing line lee.lin. She has also contributed to New England Films Magazine.

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