Marteal Boniello

Not just a walk in the park

By Kelsie Testa

Marteal Boniello

There is nothing forced about the work of Marteal Boniello, a sophomore fashion design major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Her designs and approach are natural, organic, and modest. Yet at the same time, they are edgy, modern, and uniquely hers. “It all just sort of happens,” she shrugs and laughs. But there is nothing effortless about it.

The lengthy process of creating a garment usually begins with a photo. “There are a lot of elements you can take out of an image [like colors or shapes], and it doesn’t even always have to be an image,” she said. “It’s more how you translate [an idea] into fabric.” Then it’s time to sketch – a process which involves many edits and reworks.

Afterward, Boniello might have as many as 30 sketches for a single piece. Once the design is finalized, she draws a pattern, makes a sample out of muslin, and constructs the garment, which is a whole other task in itself.

One of her outfits, a dress and jacket inspired by Central Park in New York City, is the final product in her patternmaking class. It reflects the contrast between the harsh city skyline and the soft, natural beauty of the park.

The dress is made of a wool pinstripe material with a sheer linen top and accents of ruffled linen at the bottom. It is classic, feminine, and tailored – a sharp contrast to the edgy pleather jacket that accompanies it. The jacket’s industrial metal accents and rough, unfinished green chiffon lining juxtapose the sleek and finished look of the dress, but they merge harmoniously.

The idea came to her while she worked in New York City over the summer. “I would go [to the park] almost every day after work, and I loved just sitting there,” Boniello said. “There is this one spot in particular. It was just this strange feeling – being in the biggest city in the world, but you’re still in this very natural place. I liked that contrast.”

When attempting to describe her style, Boniello grew quiet. “I like very natural colors, but I try to incorporate them with something new and modern,” she said. Others have described her style as antiqued and feminine, but she doesn’t seem too concerned about defining herself or her work. “You don’t want to get stuck,” she said. “You’re too young to already have your ideas set.”

She originally aspired to be a painter, but switched to fashion design because she realized she wanted to “bring her art into a more three-dimensional medium, not limited to a canvas.” Her inspiration stems largely from her surroundings and interests, but sometimes, ideas simply occur to her and she just runs with them. She prefers to figure out where they come from later. “I think a lot of [influences] are subconscious,” she said.

Though Boniello isn’t exactly sure of her artistic identity, she does know one thing: She doesn’t want to do anything too corporate. She doesn’t want to be on sale.

Everything about Boniello’s designs is confident, free-spirited, and daring, yet realistic and down-to-earth. She wouldn’t mind being the next Marc Jacobs, but she’d be just as happy owning a small evening wear boutique. “The only way I would like to be as big as that is if I had complete creative control,” she said. “But I wouldn’t want to be a huge bitch about it either. I don’t want my life to revolve around my work. When it gets to that point, you’re not yourself anymore.”