BC: What was the most important lesson you’ve learned from the Academy of Art University?
JV: While it is important to take in criticism, I think it is crucial to stick to your gut and follow your intuition. There are no wrongs or rights when dealing with creativity. If you force yourself into someone else’s box, it will show every time. Have a little faith in yourself and your point of view. Aside from that, be prepared to hustle every single day. This industry is not for the weak of heart. It takes a lot of long hours, hard work, and determination.
TF: The most important thing I’ve learned is that as a designer you have to be able to defend yourself. You have to produce work that you are so proud of you’re able to stand by it, even when someone else tears it apart. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you’re doing, so you have to believe at the end of the day that your opinion is the only one that really matters.
HM: That you really have to believe in yourself and what you are doing. There is no one else who is going to do the work for you or help you stay up all night to get your project completed. I have found it in myself to believe that I can make pretty much anything happen, and I am willing to put in the hard work. Nothing feels better than knowing that you have done your best and the results follow in line with your goals, dreams, and aspirations.
BC: What was the inspiration behind your fall 2013 line?
JV: I wanted the collection to be an overall representation of who I am as a designer and what I would want out of my own line. I looked to things that often inform my designs –menswear, tailoring, color, and pattern. I also spent my whole life in a parochial school uniform, and fight it as I may, it always finds a way of sneaking into my designs. The Welsh blankets were really the big catalyst in this collection. I wanted the blankets to be the focus of the collection, and built a complementary fabric story around them.
TF: When I was first doing research for the collection, I was looking at India as a source of inspiration. I was reading a book that described India as this amazing convergence of opulence and decay. I just loved the juxtaposition of those words; they were so evocative. When I came across this elk skeleton while hiking I had the same reaction. It combined these seemingly incongruous things—beauty and morbidity—you just couldn’t take your eyes away. From there I was drawn to anatomical illustrations of skeletons and musculature, and eventually landed on process sketches from H.R. Giger’s Alien.
HM: The main concept behind my collection is largely inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis. The imagery of the art deco sets as well as the scale of the production were groundbreaking in its time. Beyond the sets and the costume is the story of the worker’s city below that of Metropolis, a city run by the wealthy few. To prevent the workers from revolting, the leader of the revolution, Maria, is switched with a machine. The good prevails and the two factions of Metropolis find a way to coexist. The extreme silhouette is representative of the change that Maria undergoes as she is transformed into the machine. I have translated the lines and contours of the robot into the shapes and details of the knitwear. I have made use of utilitarian fabrics, such as heavy weight felted and flannel wools, representing the workers’ uniform. My collection represents my version of the workers’ uniform.
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