Q & A with Fashion Brand Riley Phillips Art

Riley Phillips Art

Orlando, USA based designer

Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

My name is Riley Phillips. My brand, Riley Phillips Art, is a fashion, photography, and fine art brand, so when it comes to my designs, I’m heavily influenced by the relationships between different artistic media and intersecting, often figurative, embellishment. My designs focus on color, texture, and flow to maintain an artistry and wearability, while also inciting a confidence, wanderlust, and sensuality in the wearer. Personally, I have been involved in the arts for as long as I can remember, be it drawing, photography, or sculpture, though I began my self-taught ventures in fashion just last year. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in Studio Art + German at Wake Forest University, where I try to incorporate fashion into my studies as often as I can.

What sparked your interest in fashion design?

My background in sculpture and photography led me to fashion. Through my experience in the visual arts, I sculpted wearable art out of unconventional materials, often fashion magazines, and led editorial photo shoots. Naturally, being around fashion through these other artistic media sparked an interest and manifested appreciation, and after completing my sculptural fashion collection, I began teaching myself how to sew. Fashion has provided me with a unique form of artistry in that I can express my inspirations with a delicate and functioning form, while also maintaining a complementary and expressive relationship with my audience and other creative disciplines.   

Can you describe your creative process?

I often begin with an unexpected source of inspiration, usually sourced through travel or exploration in other art and environments. Once I see someone or something unusual or enticing, I dissect the texture, form, and shape of this inspiration to explore how it and my relationship to it could be physically expressed. In clarifying my inspiration, I take detailed photos to centralize and specify the concentration, then referencing these photos and moodboards, I begin to sketch my designs. Once my designs are sewn, fitted, and finished, I stage a lookbook photo shoot to allow the piece to come full circle with the inspiration—putting the design in an environment cohesive to that in which it was first explored. 

What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

My favorite part of being a designer is the interdisciplinary relationships with art. Fashion has allowed me to fully express my ideas and observations in a sculptured discipline, which I can share with others in varying media. Through design, I can share my own unique vision while further complimenting the insights of another. My desire to continually create, connect, and share art drives me to design. 

How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

My brand is currently based in Orlando, FL; however, I have moved around for most of my young life. Having lived a fairly nomadic life, I have found most of my inspiration in my travels-- the cultures and surroundings which are most foreign and promising of excitement and new experiences. The promise of the unknown and the allure of a new environment keeps me creatively active. Because my home is always changing, I feel most connected to the people who surround me, who always encourage me and respect my ideas.

In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to experiencing the professionalism of the show and event and engaging with people from other backgrounds and cultures. As an emerging and self-taught designer, my involvement in the industry has been more local. I am excited to experience the routines and showmanship of fashion, sharing my art and designs with other talented creatives.

What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

My collection is inspired by my time in Venice, Italy and the art, architecture, and unique environments I encountered while there. 

What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?

With my emphasis on sensuality, wearability, and interdisciplinary reference to art and travel, I hope audiences connect with the confidence and artistry I aim to express in my designs.

Thank you for speaking with us, Riley. We look forward to seeing your brand on the VFW runway this October.

Photos contributed.

@rileyphillipsart

rileyphillipsart.com

Q & A with Fashion Brand Céline Haddad

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Celine Haddad

New York, USA based designer

Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

Céline Haddad is a high-end womenswear ready-to-wear label. I decided to offer urban women of any age daring, dynamic, and different garments and accessories that will make them feel edgy, confident and comfortable in their skin. They can wear them for various occasions rather than one special opportunity.

I am both French and Lebanese but I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Starting the age of 18, I spent my summers in London and Paris exploring the various fields of the fashion industry. After graduating in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut in 2017, I decided to move to New York in order to pursue my dream. There, I completed a degree in Fashion Design at Parsons.

What sparked your interest in fashion design?

I think that what interests me the most in fashion design, is how easy it looks on the outside but how challenging it actually is. Challenge is one of my biggest drives in life.

The industry is not all sparkles and champagne, it requires a lot of work and organization. I think Fashion is also one of today’s main communication and influential tools. By making use of it, designers can serve great causes and raise awareness on several topics. Finally, fashion design is the perfect mix of technical skills and creativity—I believe we are the architects of the human body. 

Can you describe your creative process?

I don’t have one creative process per se—it varies every time and depends on several factors. As a designer, I often draw my primary inspiration from the exploration of societal, generational and personal controversies that arise in today’s civilization. I particularly enjoy revisiting wardrobe classics and creating experimental versions of them by playing around with the elements that initially make an item timeless. Travelling and art also play a big part in my creative process, but I always try to add a deeper meaning to my creations.

What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

The more I practice this profession, the more I fall in love with it. I enjoy every step of the way—some less than others—but I think what makes the beauty of this occupation is how diversified a designer’s job is, especially as entrepreneurs. My favorite part of being a designer is seeing an intangible idea concretize and come to life, and seeing how a collection can carry a deeper meaning to it.

I use design as a means of self-expression and change, and I strongly believe that there’s more to garments and accessories than pure aesthetics. The message it conveys is what interests me the most. Another aspect of this discipline I particularly enjoy, is networking a lot and constantly meeting new people to build relationships. Human contact has always been something I deeply care about. Finally, I must add that there is a lot potential to do good around us as fashion designers and this is very motivating.

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How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

I moved to New York at the age of 21, with a dream and ambition of becoming a fashion designer. It is the city where I am based at the moment. The American fashion capital is where I grew as a designer and I can’t compare being a designer here to exercising this profession elsewhere. However, I can comfortably state what’s already known by many which is that New York provides you with everything you need as a designer (a huge network, industry professionals, factories, schools, fabrics, boutiques, inspiration etc.)

What I like the most about being in New York is the city’s dynamics. Living here makes you want to work as hard as you can from the bottom of your heart—the vibes of the city really push you to excel. You simply don’t want to be a nobody in New York and building a name for yourself naturally becomes a part of your everyday life.

The US culture has affected my design aesthetic in a way that functionality, comfortability and polyvalent garments and accessories has become very important for me. Living in New York, I’ve grown to understand the life of urban women better and I’m more aware of their needs and wants. I certainly still feel a very strong bond with my homes, whether it’s Beirut or Paris. That will never change.

I am grateful for being exposed since my very young age to the beauty, femininity and distinction of Lebanese women and the simplicity and elegance of the French.

In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

Vancouver Fashion Week is actually my first exposure as an independent designer since my graduation and I will be launching my debut collection there, so saying I am looking forward to it would actually be an understatement.

What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

While my Spring/Summer 2020 collection may appear to be about femininity, it features twelve bold, daring, and controversial looks that aim to be provocative and go against expectations. “Rébellion” is an audacious, eclectic collection in which I will present spirited and elegant rebels asking for the liberation of women and garments from rules and norms.

What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?

I hope to see a mix of curiosity, excitement, and surprise in the audience’s eyes when they will see my designs on the runway. My collection is meant to challenge traditions and norms and be experimental, controversial and provocative. I hope they will like it.

Thank you for speaking with us Céline, we look forward to seeing you on the VFW runway in October.

Photos contributed.

celinehaddadstudio.com

@celinehaddadstudio

Q & A with Fashion Brand SENKO

SENKO

Vancouver based designer

Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?

My name is Lesley Senkow and SENKO (pronounced “sang-ko”) is for the individualist who doesn’t want to be put in one box. Silhouette, print, texture, colour and movement are always present in my designs. I like to play with the idea that everyone has a soft and hard side and that fashion can help bring these elements out. My collections will feature a mix of abstract patterns and statement pieces along with structured and elevated neutral classics to help create a more complex wardrobe.

 What sparked your interest in fashion design?

Growing up I always felt the need to express myself through fashion. I was shy but fashion helped me express who I was and who I thought I wanted to be. Looking back, I went through many style phases in the process of figuring out who I was. How I dressed was always a representation of what I was going through at that time. I’ve always found fashion to be so anthropological and find it interesting that it is ever evolving just like us.

Can you describe your creative process?

My creative process definitely does not have a formula. I find myself spontaneously inspired the most by nature, folklore, history and travel. This can spark a general mood, colour palette, texture or silhouette. I don’t enjoy forcing creativity so I often finding myself randomly taking notes when ideas decide to arise and I’ll later go back and sketch them out. I’ll know when something is just an idea on paper versus a complete design. I’ll be standing in my kitchen cooking dinner then “ah-ha!” the rest of the design will emerge. 

What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?

I love the itch. The creativity itch you can’t stop scratching until your idea has completely manifested into physical form. I don’t know where I heard it but “hold the vision, trust the process,” is one of my favourite quotes for designers and artists alike. Seeing your vision come to life in front of you is like nothing else. 

How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?

I don’t mind it. I think if anything it has pushed me to invest in myself and my brand. If I was living in New York or some other major fashion capital I might have thought to pursue a corporate design role and been intimidated by the abundance of designers already trying to make it on their own. Vancouver in many ways feels like an untapped market. I think the game is starting to change with the shop local/slow fashion movement and it’s really exciting to see how our city will change with new emerging talent. I have travelled a fair bit and always get excited to come back to Vancouver. The proximity of nature, mountains, ocean and city really make it unlike any other place in the world. 

In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?

I can’t wait to completely put myself out there and see it all come together. Last year was a very challenging year for me but my biggest lesson was to unapologetically remain true to who you are. This collection is a direct reflection of my experiences.  

What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?

My S/S20 collection is inspired by the Moon’s gravitational pull on water affecting the tides. To me this represents the highs and lows we go through in life and the different roles we often play to get through them. 

What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?

My goal is to create a luxury slow fashion brand in Vancouver with a focus on ethical and sustainable materials and practice. I am hoping that people will enjoy my collection and want to support my brand so that I can continue to create and expand in the future. 

Thank you Lesley for talking to us about your creative brand! We look forward to seeing your brand at VFW.

Photos by Matthew Burditt.

senko.ca

@senkostudios

The New Meaning of 'Made in China' - 2025

In 2015 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a new ten-year economic plan called ‘Made in China 2025’. This plan is modelled, in-part, after Germany’s Industry 4.0 plan and is focused mainly on technology and robotics. A wider part of this initiative is the rebranding of Chinese industries from imitators to innovators. What does this have to do with the fashion industry? Well, it’s news to no one that China is infamous for their knock-offs. Simply search Beijing’s ‘Pearl Market’ and you’ll find hundreds of Youtube videos dedicated to finding and bartering for the best designer knock-offs China has to offer.

That reality has been shifting in China over the last ten years. There is a new generation of designers creating clothing for the insatiable and growing Chinese market. Initiatives like this one, which are only tangentially related to the fashion industry, help the global perception of China’s fashion goods shift from low quality clothes and high quality knock-offs to China as a new creative fashion hub. China’s designer fashion market is a Blue Ocean ready for fresh talent to wow the awaiting consumer.

As China’s fashion industry grows, the West can take note. China’s lateral movement into the open world allows for innovation not tethered to current practices or traditions. Chinese talent who in past have moved west to practice their skills are now staying in the mainland and flourishing in hubs like Shenzhen and Shanghai. These Creatives are starting their own labels and magazines. They’re designing for a Chinese consumer base that is ready to embrace and curate niche brands and smaller designers.

New projects like Rouge Fashion Book (a bi-annual coffee table fashion book) and established fashion houses like EPO Fashion Group (Home to Mo&CO and Edition) alike are able to find a home in southern China. Companies like EPO have been around for over a decade, but they’re recently getting the recognition they deserve. They play an important part in the rebranding China as a place for creativity and innovation. 

In addition to designers, Chinese editors and influencers are also making a stand in defense of Chinese creation. Leaf Greener a former editor for Elle China and founder of a WeChat based magazine, LEAF is among many whose work displays China as a place of creativity not just consumerism. As she covers fashion weeks around the world, she continues to defend China among them as a cutting edge player in the fashion world. 

We’re almost to the halfway mark of Made in China 2025 and what do we have to show for it? I can’t speak on robotic technologies, but we can see the fashion insiders of the West paying more mind to the rising giant in the East. More and more western publications are covering events like Shanghai Fashion Week. The Business of Fashion dedicated almost nine pages of their 2018 State of Fashion (only a 45 pg. document) to addressing China and the overall Asian market. The public won’t be far behind these insiders as they realize their favourite brands are not only being made in china, but also designed in China. 

Indeed, China based brands continue to grow in popularity both in China and in the West. Additionally, as events like Shanghai Fashion Week continue to grow and gain global attention, so will other Chinese designers and labels. Personally, I look forward to watching as the Chinese creative community shows the world what this part of the East has to offer. Enriching their designs with Chinese culture and tradition juxtaposed with a fresh perspective that remains unbound to the lines the West has been drawing within for the past hundred years. 


A day is coming when ‘Made in China’ will mean something much different than it does in the west today, and that day is coming soon.