If you love beautiful, feminine gowns that ooze innocence and gentility, then you must be familiar with the designs of Constanza Volare. Alchemy’s front woman and real life graphic designer, talked to Friday Feature about real life, friendship, and Godiva Chocolates… I’m all ears!

Harriet Gausman: I always like to start by asking how long my interviewees have been in SL and when they began their business; for the benefit of those who do not already know. So, do tell.

Constanza Volare: Well, officially I joined in November 2006 but didn’t actually log in until January 2007. I probably started designing around April of the same year… I must confess it took me a while to get the hang of it (the whole SL experience and making clothes)!

Harriet Gausman: I have to say that your store has the most impressive selection of gowns and dresses – what made you choose to specialize in formal wear?

Constanza Volare: To be honest it was because I never get to wear those sort of things in RL. I’m always wearing jeans and long sleeved tops! At least while I lived in London (I just moved to San Francisco), the weather was SO COLD that I never thought about wearing a dress once! Being from Chile I was feeling cold most of the time! I do intend to start making more “everyday” clothes, but I guess there will still be more dresses as a general rule. Most of the time, my creations are things that I’d just love to wear if the weather was perfect and I didn’t have to walk so much to go to work in RL!



Harriet Gausman: You have had quite a few collaborations with other SL designers, like Isobel DeSantis and Alienbear Gupte. Can you tell us a little about these and what you gained from the working experience?

Constanza Volare: Isobel was my first friend in SL! She saved me from the humiliating experience of not being able to stop a dance animation and making a complete fool of myself. After a few months of not talking but still having her in my list of friends, we got together to chat and I told her I was designing clothes. She then told me she was starting to make shoes and things. It went from there really. With Alienbear it was a bit different, she sent me a nice comment about one of my dresses. Then we got talking and I actually met her in RL when I went to Hong Kong for New Year! It was great, we had so much fun, and talking about SL we agreed to do something together, someday. She is a really creative person!

I really like working with other people as a team, it’s something I probably got from university (I went to design school). I find that you learn much more and you start perceiving your own creations the way other people see them (sometimes when you look at them for too long you just stop seeing them completely)! And you get many more ideas plus friendships grow a lot stronger!

Harriet Gausman: Many designers have some RL experience in the field before they step into SL. Did you have any relevant skills in RL that were transferable to the fashion business?


Constanza Volare: I’m a RL graphic designer, it’s got nothing to do with fashion most of the time, but it definitely gives you a sense of balance and of course the skills to make the clothes in SL. I LOVE fashion personally but I never got fashion design training in RL. If I had more time I would definitely take some courses on that, I find it fascinating!

Harriet Gausman: SL design is always changing, not only with the development of new styles and clothing lines, but also the improved scripting techniques required to enhance those designs. It seems as if designers have to keep running just to stay abreast of it all. Have you had to learn many new skills in order to create your beautiful dresses?

Constanza Volare: To be honest, not really. It was quite hard for me to get to grips with prims at first and I have definitely improved my Photoshop drawing and painting skills a million times more, even though I worked with the software everyday for my RL job! I’m now in the process of learning Maya, but it’s not only for SL, although I’m sure it will help me make things I have in mind but can’t really make with regular prims.

Harriet Gausman: Do you have any special projects that you are working on right now? Will you expand your range to include men’s wear and perhaps more casual wear?

Constanza Volare: I have always wanted to do more casual wear and in the beginning I also said that I would like to make clothes for men. I still want to! But honestly, I’d need a time machine to be able to make all the things I want. It takes me a long time to create and make an outfit or a dress. Then the photo shoots etc… I also have a RL life full of stuff to do! Eventually, I think I’ll get there, I just think that at the moment I am learning so much still making women’s clothes, that I don’t want to cut that process off to start a new one and lose momentum. I am working on a new release right now, so I’ll be quite busy for the next couple of weeks!


Harriet Gausman: Do you get to do much outside of fashion here in SL? When you have a day off what do you like to do? Any hobbies that you have time for?

Constanza Volare: Well, a day off in SL probably means gossiping and shopping, hehe, but sometimes I just get away from my computer and read, watch a film or look at design and fashion magazines. As for hobbies…. Well, I have too many, I like to ski, scuba dive, do Tae Kwondo, wakeboard, go for walks, travel, I love shopping (which girl doesn’t?), getting together with friends and just chatting away, I really love designing so I would do that too and just create “stuff” to entertain myself and I love learning new things… I even cross stitch, play the piano, the clarinet… the list is endless! Probably, most of my free time though I’ll spend with my RL hubby. We have lots of fun together and he would join me in any of my hobbies (definitely none of the girly things of course, hahaha).

Harriet Gausman: Which RL fashion designer do you aspire to and why?

Constanza Volare: I must say there is definitely not JUST ONE designer I could mention, there are several that inspire me in many ways. For example Sonia Rykel really inspired me with her last collection, she did this whole romance theme and her creations were all so feminine, but at the same time very daring and different! Luella is also another one that I liked this year, they came up with amazing stuff. Then Versace, Fendi… Again, the list can be endless. I just like certain creations of different artists and I guess that is what I aspire to, to be able to create in a diverse way, to innovate, but most of all to be able to design pieces that are timeless, that no matter when you wear them, they won’t look dated… And that goes for my graphic design creations too.



Harriet Gausman: So, you’re lost on a desert island, alone with no way of escape – name five items you could not bear to be parted from.

Constanza Volare: My teddy bear (I’d love to say my mac but that wouldn’t work after a while), an endless supply of books, an infinite amount of diet coke bottles and Godiva chocolates, a notebook with never ending pages and a pen with never ending ink (I do love to write when I have time… and yeah, I’d probably have too much time on that island right?)

Harriet Gausman: Where do you foresee the brand of Constanza headed?

Constanza Volare: I have never really planned anything around Alchemy, I design what comes to my mind and inspires me, and that is really how it has grown. I don’t really have a specific style or trend, I definitely tend to design things that are more on the feminine side and I guess it’s because of what I said above, I never get to wear stuff like that in RL! In the future, I would love to expand and be able to create a more diverse range of items, definitely including a more casual line.

Harriet Gausman: Do you have any advice that you can offer to those just starting out in the fashion business?

Constanza Volare: Be patient, the only way to start getting better is by practicing, so make as much clothes as you have time for! Also create things that YOU like, not what other people say they like or want!! And most of all, if in doubt, don’t be scared to ask how to do things. Personally I have no problem helping others… I had a tough time learning the HOW TO’s of SL fashion, so I understand that some people feel frustrated about it!

Harriet Gausman: Finally, there’s a framed photograph in your store, I’d love to know who the picture is of?

Constanza Volare: That would be my mother when she was my age more or less. She looks so beautiful and stylish that I just HAD to put her there, I have that pic in RL also next to me at all times. I tend to miss my parents a lot since I’m away from Chile. I’m an only child and Chile is a very family orientated country so distance is quite hard on us, but it makes the reunions so much better!! I also have one of my dad and me, when I was little, on the table in the shop as well.

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