What can be more exciting than discovering a fashion collection that’s inspired by art, travel, music, vintage movies and actually tells a story? Today we introduce you to a very talented fashion designer from San Antonio, Texas by the name of Blanquita Sullivan. She is the founder and creative director of Bonjour Biqui. If the name doesn’t resonate just yet, I promise by the end of this post you will definitely want to know more. Recently, One Style at a Time had the pleasure of speaking with Blanquita who is not only an inspiring force in fashion but highly talented with a unique point of view and a fascinating personal background.
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: When did you realize you wanted to be a fashion designer?
Blanquita: My grandmother, Blanca had a beautiful collection of costume jewelry, vintage furs, hats, and clothes. As a little girl, I spent hours at her house digging through her things and dressing up. The walls in her bedroom were lined with a striking set of autographed photos of Hollywood silent stars from the 1920s (from when she lived in California as a young girl). One of my favorites was signed “to Blanca, with love from Rudolph Valentino”. She told me the stories of the opera, wore bright lipstick and taught me to sew. I suppose it was with her that I realized I wanted to make beautiful things.
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
Blanquita: I made lots of costumes for plays in high school… I think I started with Romeo and Juliet. I learned to make basic corsets, full skirts, peasant blouses and really play with the clothes through costume work.
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: What is your favorite part of the design process?
Blanquita: Without a doubt, it is the storytelling element of design. Before I start any project, I take the time to really dig into what is the story behind each collection. I create a character and narrative for each collection. Where does she live? Who does she live with? What does she wear from day to day?
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: How did you come up with the name for your company Bonjour Biqui?
Blanquita: When I began working on my first collection, I dreamed up a little story about an American designer living in Paris. I named her Biqui (based on my childhood nickname) and imagined her receiving handwritten letters from her grandmother, living in an old flat in Paris, surrounded by eccentric neighbors and artists. The story ultimately inspired the name and spirit of the brand.
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: What are some sources of inspiration for your collections?
Blanquita: Fine art, especially paintings from New York in the 1950s, Paris in the 1890’s, and portraits. Movies. I love costume dramas, movies about time travel, musicals, screwball comedies from the 30s and 40s, Frank Capra movies, Alfred Hitchcock blondes, Fred and Ginger dance scenes, and everything Wes Anderson, romance. I am a sucker for books that transport me to another place. I tend to temporarily “move in” to a book that I’m reading. Travel, especially when people got very dressed up for their trips… luggage with travel stickers, trains with sleeper cars, airplanes in the 1960s, safaris through Africa. Black and White. I love black and white photography, interior design, clothing and most especially… stripes!
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: Who are some designers or artists that have influenced your work the most?
Blanquita: Alice Neel, Tamara de Lempicka, Manet, Suzanne Valadon, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, Paul Gauguin. Designers: Betsey Johnson, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren, Ulyana Sergeenko, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Edith Head. Musicians: Louis Armstrong, my dad, Jim Cullum, Celia Cruz.
ONE STYLE AT A TIME: How would you describe the Bonjour Biqui woman or customer?
Blanquita: My customer is a romantic, an adventurer, and a bit of a daredevil. She is interested in constantly learning and achieving more. She loves to read and appreciates fine art. She is creative, loves good food, and values her family above all else. In fashion, she looks for special pieces that help tell her story and bring out her individuality. She loves feminine shapes, color, and things that wear well over time.
Blanquita studied costume design at the Virginia Commonwealth University, has worked with designers such as Anna Sui and Betsey Johnson. She is married and is a mom of three daughters. Besides running her company at Bonjour Biqui she is also a visual manager for Anthropologie.
Visit Bonjour Biqui: http://bonjourbiqui.com
Visit Facebook: https:/facebook.com/bonjourbiqui
Photo Credit: Bonjour Biqui