Desira Pesta

Fashion designer and 2006 Syracuse University alum.

By Kaitlyn Pirie

Archival scarlet circus dress by Desira Pesta

After completing four years on the Hill, Desira Pesta lives the creative life in the Big Apple sketching, sewing, and stitching. Taking a break from establishing her name in the fashion industry, she reflects on the people, moments, and inspirations that influenced who she is today.

Jerk Magazine: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Desira Pesta: I always wanted to be an architect. I would spend hours and hours drawing and using a primitive CAD program. I studied interior architecture at SU before switching to fine art and painting. I wanted something more creative…more free-form, and [through] painting I found my voice as someone who didn’t have to adhere to as many boundaries.

Was there ever a particular moment when you realized this is where you’re meant to be? No, I’m still young, and I think that life is full of awakening changes and experiences. Whether I’m traveling, performing, painting, or writing, I’ve found places where I’ve felt that way, but I cannot pinpoint one particular medium that I feel most akin to.

On your Web site you talk a lot about being self-reliant and running your business without the use of sweatshops. Have you always tried to live with such values and morals? I think as a young person it’s hard to get a full grasp of where your stuff comes from. Growing up, the idea of not relying on others to do your shit has definitely influenced how I view the world [today]. Not until recently have I really respected the fact that my dad is truly a

Where do you get inspiration for your designs and work as an artist? I am always generating ideas from magazines, looking at shows, and my peers’ work. In terms of complimentary colors, I use a lot of what I learned in architecture and painting. I also really enjoy structure and sculpture, two things that greatly influence how I build an outfit.

What are you working on right now? Right now, I’m concentrating on clothing and launching a men’s line. I think [designing for] women is much more fun, but I’ve realized that guys are left with graphic tees and sweatshirts. I also have plans to launch a more high-end look for men and women, deviating from girly, playful things and moving towards a more refined, grown-up aesthetic.

Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you’d like to do in the future? I really want to write and publish a book. I want to travel more…become fluent in another language. I also want to explore acting; I think it’s a really cool thing to be able to throw oneself into [a character] and become a completely different person.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? I whole-heartedly recommend immersing yourself in something that you love, even if you’re bad at it. Keep messing around and screwing up and you’ll learn eventually. Experiment as much as you can – never play it safe. Always push things harder and see how far you can go with your manifestations.