Last week I was invited by Emma Kelly from Elevate to take part in an industry talk organised by Nokia for the 2010 Young Fashion Designer Awards.
One of Ireland's leading stylists Sonia Lennon and myself hosted the afternoon and people were invited to take part in a question and answers session
Before we started I was given a list of very interesting questions, many subjects which we weren't able to cover so I thought it would be great to go through the list and share some thoughts with you...so here it goes...
1. what inspires you as a designer?
Everything and anything..music, film, fabric, colour, people...and if you follow this blog you will find many treasures that take my breath away and instigate the creative instinct
2. Is there anybody you would love to design for? Who would be your ideal client?
I dream of designing costumes for a ballet or dance company. I would also love to work in film...maybe with Jane Campion or Tim Burton???
If I could be in anybody's shoes at the moment it would probably be in Karl Lagerfeld's. I would like to experience the endless possibilities he has to develop collections with no budget restrictions and all those marvelous ateliers at his service
Ideal customer? That is a very difficult question, I have many ideal customers already who understand and share my point of view in terms of design, quality and integrity.
3.What is your opinion on the ethical fashion movement?
As Vanessa Friedman quoted..."it is a matter of common sense". Unfortunately I do not believe in the institutionalisation of the Ethical Fashion Movement. I think the public should be informed and educated in this matter but I fear many use this as a marketing gimmick and public have become misinformed on the fundamental intentions of ethical fashion..
I experienced this first hand when a women came into our shop in Dublin and mentioned she wanted a 'Fair Trade' piece for an event. The irony is.. What is more fair trade than buying directly from the person who has designed or made the piece? In this case profit distribution is beneficial to producer, designer and client. Carbon footprint is minimal as pieces are made locally, locally sourced fabric etc etc.. she insisted that the products in our shop weren't fair trade because we didn't have swing tags by an approved organisation.
There is an interesting video on the Luxury Channel called Going Green: the Future of Luxury
4. How do you think social media has affected the fashion industry?
It has had a huge impact. Most companies recognise it has become an essential part of the communication strategy. It brings the brand closer to the customer and it has also broken down barriers and degrees of separation.
5. What are some of your favourite fashion blogs/websites?
Diane Pernet's Shaded view on Fashion. Before I even knew the concept of a blog I became a loyal follower of this dark and alternative view on the fashion industry. It was the first place I saw Gareth Pugh.
The Luxury Chronicles serious and intelligent stories which Helene feeds us daily
Style Rookie 14 year old Tavi's blog, I do love it. She reminds me of a younger version of myself. Her judgement sometimes is quite profound for someone her age
Limi Feu's blog, I'm obsessed with Japan so to be able to see how things are in Japan from someone in the industry is wonderful
Innewyorkparistomorrow, Blog by a fashion pioneer. Her blog is varied and poetic. Secrets stories of the past, she has many yet to confess.
6. Who is your favourite journalist?
I like Cathy Horn and Colin McDowell
7. How do you think the death of Alexander McQueen will affect the fashion industry?
Sadly I think the impact is more personal than on an industry level.
We have lost all the wonderful future collection and shows he would have done had he stayed on...We have lost one of fashion's greatest entertainers.
But history has proven that someone will appear... hopefully sooner than later... and will sweep us all off our feet, as McQueen did season after season
8. Where do you source the materials of your collection?
Many places, Italy, France, UK and India
9. Are you influenced by other designers?
Technically.. no. But growing up in Spain and with an interest in fashion, those designers who I looked up to in terms of style and philosophy are still part of how I work and who I am so these would be of some influence in 'matter' more than in 'form'.
Balenciaga, Sybilla, Isabel Berz..and the list does go on...
10. Where do you shop and what do you look for in a garment?
Paris, one of my favourite places on this planet. I buy very very very little and if I do I will wear it until it falls apart, so durability and timelessness are important. My purchases are driven more by my love affair with the piece than if it will or will not suit me...
11. What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a small resort collection for my customers in the US and also on the AW1o Exclusive Collection
12. What advice would you give to this years NYFDA's finalists?
Get as much experience as you can.
Ask questions, listen and watch. Absorb knowledge..learn learn learn
Keep in touch with your peers and keep building up contacts through the years.. it's a small industry and it helps to know as many people as possible..
If you decide to set up your own company..be true to yourself, be professional, keep your feet on the ground and work with integrity. It is hard to repair bad reputation so don't build your brand around a false image.
Treat everyone with respect, those who assist you now could be in a different position a few years down the line...and nobody is impressed by 'divaish' behaviour
Thanks to Emma for inviting me to do this and to Nokia for hosting it and kindly giving me a telephone