Maria “Poni” Silver

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Asked about the origins of her interest in fashion, this year’s Nashville Fashion Forward Fund recipient, Maria Silver said, “My interest in fashion started pretty young. My mother used to make a lot of my clothing and we would design pieces for my Barbies. It was my first design gig!”

As she developed, Silver’s career really took shape on the fringes of the entertainment industry in Florida, including the drag community. “Fast track to the first art college I attended in Miami. I had a tiny studio in South Beach just four blocks from the water, and I got a job performing (I was a dancer for about fifteen) and making costumes for show girls, drag queens and musicians. I was 18 and not even allowed in these giant art deco theaters turned clubs, but I'd be behind the stage, sewing on last minute sequins and feathers for the performers! It was an amazing introduction to costume design and even more influential than the school I was going to. I was hooked!”

“I continued my education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and got a job at a costume design house for Broadway shows right after graduation,” she continued. “I somehow ended up in Los Angeles playing drums in a garage rock band and touring all over for about 10 years. It happens! My band (The Ettes) relocated to Nashville and all of the sudden, here I am, a Dominican girl from Queens and Miami in the south!”

“Nashville is so charming though, and at the time, it was cheap! I started hearing about fashion week here and this amazing bubbling fashion scene,” Silver explained. “It just felt right to start my brand here and I was over the moon when NFW accepted my application at let me show as an emerging designer. It's pretty special to have the support of NFW and the fashion community. There's so much talent just within miles of each other.”

Silver has built her brand out of Nashville, and has now been given NFW’s support for her “Fashion Forward” stylings. “BBMS is a women's contemporary street wear brand that incorporates a lot of my upbringing including my musical and art influences,” she said, describing her brand Black by Maria Silver. “It's part urban, part island. A bit androgynous with random bursts of femininity. It's disco meets hip hop meets garage rock. I always want the person to feel comfort without losing edge and from my touring years, it's important to me that the pieces to be travel friendly.”

“The collection showing at fashion week is influenced by my mothers' move to the states. She moved to New York City in 1973 from the mountains of the Dominican Republic. I just think about the vast difference in culture, air, style, earth—EVERYTHING that she experienced making that transition. It's definitely my most colorful collection to date.”

For more on Maria Silver and her brand, check out her social media at:

· Website: www.blackbymariasilver.com

· Facebook: @blackbymariasilver

· Twitter: @ponisilver

· Instagram: @blackbymariasilver

· LinkedIn: search "Maria Del Carmen Silver"

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