FASHION Since seeing her work among gift bags at Hollywood suites, we became intrigued with Elina Petrosyan, the entrepreneurial teenager with a growing following. Leyla Messian meets her
Photographed by Anna Sargsyan
Leyla Messian is a senior writer for Lucire.
I met Elina Petrosyan last September, a few days after she emigrated from Yerevan, Armenia to the US. Her enrolment at an intermediate English as a Second Language class at Burbank High School marked the beginning of her journey to the American Dream. However, I would soon learn she already was building the foundation for a bigger dream of making her mark in the global fashion industry. Indeed, it is fitting that she landed in Burbank, (a.k.a. “the other Hollywood”), home to Warner Brothers, Disney, Nickelodeon, and the soundstages where The Tonight Show is taped. Naturally, even in a high school setting, I was used to seeing well dressed, trendy, and edgy teenagers. Many of them already had landed coveted internships in costuming, set design, and animation. Elina, dressed in her signature denim jacket over black, white and red, quickly fit in as if she had been there for years.
Elina told me she has always been interested in art. Although she is mostly self-taught, she attended a fabric painting master class, and at age 13, decided to become a fashion designer. Armed with a set of acrylics, she made a skull T-shirt design, and immediately began selling her creations through word-of-mouth. When she posted her prototype on Instagram, some of her 4,000 followers clamoured for one—and an entrepreneur star was born. Within a year, she had both adult and teen clients in Yerevan and Los Angeles, home to the largest Armenian population outside of the motherland. To fulfil these and other orders, she sources organic cotton directly from textile factories in Armenia.
Since those beginnings, Elina has created four large collections of hand-painted and screen-painted knit tops, cotton, and denim jackets as well as skirts, blouses and shirts for men, women, and kids. She modestly adds she’s also designed and produced more ‘limited-run mini-collections’ than she can remember. At 15, she is simultaneously living many American girls’ dreams while contributing to the growth of her country’s developing economy. Her designs, while often impressionist or abstract, often invoke her Armenian cultural heritage while also holding global appeal. The pomegranate, a symbol of good fortune, adorns the shoulders of a button-down shirt. Geometric carpet patterns and traditional embroidery motifs find their way on to the back of a trendy jacket.
Even though Elina attends school 35 hours a week, she manages to get her daily homework done between two to three hours of painting, blogging, and marketing her apparel. She notes that a complex design might require several hours of work, and yet her work ethic allows her to move forward, making a couple of items at a time. However, she also stresses the importance of taking a day off to refuel. ‘I need to feel inspired to produce quality work,’ she says.
Like any budding artist, she has many inspirations, including her father, actor and director Armen Petrosyan, who brought her on the set and introduced her to her future celebrity clients like singer–actors Mihran Tsarukyan and Gor Hakobyan. Last year, Hollywood’s award show season and influencer scene inspired her to fill gift bags with hand-painted apparel to introduce her work to other celebrities. Now Elina is looking at the end game, pointing out that the late Karl Lagerfeld has always been her role model. ‘He loved his work,’ she says. ‘He never stopped creating, and he never let himself create anything but the best.’
What does the future hold for Elina Petrosyan? Naturally, she hopes to follow her parents’ hopes and wishes to earn a high school diploma and move on to college. She’s been thinking about studying design in New York, with an eye on creating luxury clothing. But until then, she will continue to develop and promote her own brand of affordable clothing for all, noting, ‘Back home, you can’t do what you want. It’s hard to reach your goals no matter how hard you work. But here in Los Angeles you can succeed if you are willing to work as hard as Karl Lagerfeld did!’
Elina’s collections may be viewed and ordered on Instagram, @eli_na_fashion, and she will happily work with clients to provide a made-to-order, one-of-a-kind piece. Those in Los Angeles can see her collection at Fashion Inn, located on 1130 East Colorado Boulevard, Glendale, California, @_fashion_inn_. •
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