Laura Tanzer has a passion for fashion and it shows in every fiber of her creations. A fashion designer based in Tucson, she was chosen to attend Arizona Emerging Designer Bootcamp and participate in Phoenix Fashion Week in mid-October at the Talking-Stick Resort in Scottsdale.
Her love of her craft has inspired her to seek beauty in her work and share it with the world, also allowing others to enjoy her inspiration.
“First, I am an artist, and as such, I must have beauty around me, and I must create as much beauty as I possibly can,” says Laura. “It happens that my artistic expression is three dimensional and personal, and I sculpt with textiles. The human form has always been the most fascinating form for artists, and that will never change. We also are amazingly creative individuals, who just want to represent ourselves to our own best advantage. I merely engineer the clothing that helps others to present themselves in their best light.”
Tanzer’s road to becoming a designer took a few twists and turns. She attended the Parsons School of Design and honed her technical skills at Fashion Institute of Technology, where she graduated with honors. Subsequently, she worked in the New York City fashion district before acquiring a master’s degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Her interest in the fundamentals of creating a sustainable practice brought her to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Arizona’s School of Renewable Natural Resources and the Environment, where she also worked as a teaching associate and adjunct professor.
Laura explains, “It was always my intent to combine my business and fashion skills, and to create a company that could reflect my passion for fashion, while also implementing the sustainable practice concepts that I taught at the University of Arizona.”
She hails from a long line of creative people, all of whom emigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe and Russia. “My mother is an artisan (a master potter), and her father was an artist, as were his father and grandfather. We have the coppersmith artifacts from their work in Russia,” Laura says. “My father’s father was an inventor and an artisan, although his family did not support his artistic talents. My grandmother, my muse, could sew and was very creative in her own right. So, I come by the talent quite well. In our family, as with many other Jewish families, education was very important, as was cultivating natural talents, honing skills and generally being a good member of the community. ”
Her Jewish upbringing was unique. Although her father grew up in a very observant household, he did not want to raise his children as observant Jews.
Laura explains, “The result backfired on him when I decided, as a young woman, to visit cousins who had emigrated to Israel. I spent a fair amount of time there in the early ’90s. I learned the rituals that I was denied in my youth. I also learned to shoot an M16. I learned a lot about the Israeli life and political points of view.”
Her Jewish values play a role in strong beliefs about the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness. “To me, it is the same set of values – be a good member of the community. Service. Stewardship. Social justice. Contribute to the overall wealth of the community as best you can,” she says.
Laura, who is a lifelong learner, has relished the opportunity to be a part of the designer bootcamp and further her skills. “In Bootcamp, they work us hard, expect us to be professional in all of our presentations, dealings and opportunities. We have a lot of homework – much of it focused on how to organize a small business, make sales, create and use a budget and marketing plan, talk to potential investors, etc. This is serious. It is not about putting on a pretty show. It is about creating a viable business in the hard- driving fashion world.”
She also believes that fashion is about expressing yourself in a positive way, that enhances your self-esteem and makes you feel good about yourself and your figure. “In fashion, it is important to dress oneself as who you are. I also think it is important to not follow certain trends that are detrimental to self-esteem, such as skimpy clothing for males and females that makes one feel self-conscious and badly represented. Clothes should fit. They should look great and feel comfortable. You should be empowered by your clothing, not inhibited by it.”
Photo by Neil Peters, Fotograffe