Uncertainty is already a state of mind during these days. We do not know what the Universe is preparing for us, but we can be thankful that it already gave us two extremely talented Central Saint Martins Graduates that can easily be the “Next In Fashion”. Alexa Chung, where you at?! We had a glimpse into their Final Collection and talked about their future plans, perspectives upon the fashion industry, and how a young designer handles this situation.
Can you tell us a short description of yourself and how your passion for fashion started?
J: My name is Jessan Macatangay and I am from the Philippines. I have always loved drawing and architecture and I think that’s where I started my interest. I, then, used fashion as a medium for my love of both.
Z: Born in Korea, 25 years old girl, a ‘dreamer’, who loves philosophy and psychology in order to understand people, fashion, and cultures. And I’m Sujin Lee but call me Zoe. As a little girl, I enjoyed drawing dolls rather than playing with them and I was creating sometimes awkward things. I was 12 years old when I started collecting vintage textile shirts and accessories for giving life to my drawings and I fell in love with wearing them. Using different color mixes and materials was my obsession.
What have inspired you in creating your final collection?
J: The actual graduation project started in September 2019, from research that developed into a pre-collection, and then in January this year, we started working for it. However, in my case, this is actually a project I had in mind since my second year. I got really obsessed with it and have been developing it ever since. My graduation collection is about finding beauty and power in the struggle. My main vision on this project is to be really personal, so my starting point was to explore my personal struggles in life. I fascinated by human beings’ resilience to face every hardship in life and adapt.
Z: Graduation collection was full of anxiety and fear. During the time of studying at CSM, I’ve learned how to develop my research and design and visualize my imagination. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do for it. I had no plans before the final year. So I started by researching theories and philosophies to get inspiration, as I felt depressed and tried to release all of the difficulties and dynamic feelings. In the end, this collection is just myself, a journey of understanding my life and finally finding myself with psychoanalysis theory and surrealist artworks.
Has the current situation made you change anything in regards to the collection? If yes, what is the most significant change?
J: My journey of finishing my final collection was totally different compared to what I thought it would be before the lockdown. There were many things that I had to change in terms of design, process and materials due to this situation. My challenges in production were mainly the resources and facilities to fabricate some of my pieces. Because of the lockdown, the fabric supplier that I was specifically working with abruptly closed. So, this made me find other options, which included dyeing most of my fabrics and digitally printing some. Aside from using fabrics, I was also using a lot of materials like woods and metals, for which I was depending on using the facilities at school. But because the university closed, I had no access to make my final pieces.
I had to work with the materials I had at home. I put them together manually using simple tools I bought online, which I actually enjoyed doing. The process of actually achieving and making these changes made me realize that this situation completely reflected the concept of my graduation collection – finding beauty and power in the struggle. As I dealt with my disappointment about the whole situation, I found myself inspired and more resilient not to give up. I felt empowered seeing my final garments come together under these circumstances.
Z: This situation definitely reduced the time and access to facilities and also, doing collaborative works. But, as this situation affected everyone, all of the students had to change their perspective and so did I, trying to work at my best. However, I felt it’s not enough to show people around the world, but right now I am pretty happy with the result.
Can you disclose the story behind your collection?
J: My graduation collection is about finding beauty and power in struggle. I was inspired by Melanie Bonajo’s photography. I used a chair to represent struggle on this project. Even though a chair is made for you to rest, when you put it in a different position on a body, you give it an opposite power which becomes heavy and painful. Everyone has struggles. That is unavoidable. So, the best solution is finding the beauty in it, because in the end, it is always success and power.
Looking at Erwin Wurm’s one-minute sculpture, he deconstructed some chairs to fit right onto a person. So, the best solutions are to face, deal, and manipulate that struggle by finding ways to fit through it. This resulted in me asking my muse to try on a chair. She found every opening she could to make it fit, and I deconstructed the chair. I used Madame Grey’s beautiful draping for my technique and I was also looking at paintings of Filipino artist Ben Cabrera for my prints. The collection starts from a big sculpture on a body and then it becomes smaller on the next models. This signifies that when you face difficulties, it becomes smaller and eventually becoming part of your body. It makes you stronger, more powerful, and a better person.
Z: Final collection is inspired by vivid dreaming in bed and the conversations between my conscious and unconscious mind. Using the symbolic objects from my room, where I spent most of my time. I was focusing on my hands, which have skin disease-healing gloves. They are drawn as the settlement of the inner conflict.
The graduate show was the most important part of the year. How do you feel about not having one and what is different now?
J: Initially upon hearing the news, it came as shock and we were very disappointed, because even before you start university, you are already anticipating the fashion show at the end of your 5 years of studying. However, during and after making my garments under quarantine, I realised that there is a world crisis that no one could have predicted and the regular graduate fashion show is impossible. I think Central Saint Martins found the best alternative way for us to communicate our works in a digital fashion showcase. Each student had to show a video showcasing their collection. And upon seeing the show, I think it was amazing! It really is the right thing to do at this moment. I think it stood out from the new normal and became a challenge for us.
Z: I didn’t feel sad or awkward. I continued focusing on my work as before. As a designer, you always have to adapt quickly to any circumstances. But, when the digital showcase happened, I felt so empty and sad. I think I need a new goal for the next step.
What perspectives do you have for the future?
J: I am planning to apply to MA Fashion at Saint Martins as I still have a lot to learn. For fashion, consumers will be more conscious of the clothings and items they are buying, leading to many changes in the industry. I think the the idea of made-to-order will start fading and more support and opportunity will come to young designers.
Z: After this pandemic period, a new approach of fashion industry is needed. We will have ‘zero contacting’ time and changed lifestyles for quite a while now. So, I will keep studying, and discover how my fashion design and research skills could be used in the future, combined with the new technology.
How do you think the actual situation will change the Fashion Industry?
J: This is the new normal. I don’t think we can go back to what it was before. Everything has changed. After this pandemic, I think there should be major changes in fashion. My hope is that the industry will focus on more quality and seasonless products instead of overproduction.
Z: Well… if this kind of “zero contacting” time continues, people would like to find more comfortable and natural home-wear, reducing their consuming behaviour. Some new materials might be created to protect people from any harmful things outside. (Like facial mask).
What advice would you give Freshers in this moment?
Z: I think we are in the middle of the transition period. Technology keeps growing and nature is destroyed. They should not hesitate to learn something new and keep studying for their own creativity, no matter what is happening around them. Believe in yourself, be an irreplaceable feature, think about sustainable growth. Our ability is more important than a schools’ name or a teacher’s opinion.
This article was written by Raluca Ristea, the Managing Editor here at A-Z Bible.