Behind the brand ARCANA NYC

ARCANA NYC the portrait

Arianna Reagan, the designer of Arcana New York, has been bewitched by fashion from her earliest memories. Her mother, aunts and grandmothers filled her dress-up basket with their hand-me-downs—cast-off vintage pieces with inherent history, imbued with the stories of the women who wore them before.

Raised by a highly-creative family in the artistically-rich city of San Francisco, Reagan avidly threw herself into all areas of the arts. Noting her particular passion for fashion design, her family encouraged her to follow this discipline in college. At the time, however, Reagan did not see fashion as a serious pursuit. At best, she reasoned, it was about making pretty clothing; at worst, it propagated a culture of over-consumption, waste, and harmful self-image for women. Determined to pursue something deeper, and to affect positive change on the world, Reagan moved to New York to pursue a degree in Religion and Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Focusing on esoteric goddess cults of early Hinduism, Reagan had the opportunity to fill her mind with eastern art and philosophy. Mythologies from these early spiritual practices had the greatest effect on the designer’s studies, and she began to see that, despite the vast differences between distant cultures, common threads existed that perhaps spoke to a shared human experience.

However, when she woke at 3 a.m. after her first semester of graduate school, it was with the heart-wrenching certainty that she would never be truly happy unless she pursued a creative life. This led Reagan to Parsons, where she studied Fashion Design under some of the best teachers in the discipline.

During those years, and the years that followed, the designer understood that this superficially-circuitous route was, in fact, the only way she could ultimately return to fashion. She saw that her desire to help the planet had its place in fashion design, for what industry requires healing more than that of fashion? Backed by years of studying Religion, moreover, Reagan saw that she could make more than pretty clothing. By imbuing styles with art and mythology, she could make fashion that resonates on a deeper level—fashion that has the power to connect us.

Arcana was born from these very personal origins. Drawing from her early experiences, Reagan engender heirloom fashion—fashion that speaks with the voice of history, that has the weight of lives that came before, and that has the timelessness and durability to be passed on and to inspire generations to come. “Arcana” is Latin for the mysteries, and this speaks to not only the feeling the designer hopes to imbue her styles with, but also the rapidly-vanishing knowledge of ancient textile arts that Arcana seeks to revitalize. Arcana also refers to the trump cards of the tarot deck, which, together, tell the story of a soul’s journey through life. With her studies of Religion, Reagan saw that this story was a sort of archetype that echoes through mythologies across the globe. In this sense, therefore, Arcana also refers to our common experience; to a shared human identity that is our strength in the face of the uncertainties of globalization.

Ultimately, though, Arcana is about fulfilling the promise the designer made to herself upon embarking on this venture—to do fashion the right way, so that it becomes a force to empower, to connect, to heal and to inspire.

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