PEFTA 2012 Q&A: JAMES IMPERIAL
How do you feel about being a PEFTA finalist this year?
It really is a great honor to take part in this prestigious competition. At first I was very hesitant to join because I might not be able to live up to the expectations of Preview magazine’s vision. But after a long, troublesome thinking and deciding, I finally came up with the realization that this is an opportunity for me that is just there waiting for me to grab, and that I might regret not taking it.
So after a long wait, from inter-school eliminations and final submissions, it’s an indescribable happiness to know that I was chosen to become one of the finalists for PEFTA.
What motivated you to study fashion design?
I grew up not knowing that being a fashion designer is considered an occupation. I thought I wanted to be a chef, a painter, or a doctor, but my fascination for gowns, fabric flows and dresses grew along with me. I already took up a vocational course on Food Technology but as I went on in my OJT, I realized that I don’t see myself doing kitchen cleaning, food preparation, taking food orders for the rest of my life. I want to be able to let out my ideas, create my visions, and hopefully be able to establish myself in the fashion industry.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My design aesthetic is really gothic, black, dark glam, and glamour that is a bit edgy. The portfolio I submitted for PEFTA is a contrast to what I am used to doing. I really challenged myself to create a whole collection that includes color play, something that is soft, graceful and happy. From making dresses that have dark color palettes with gothic details, I will be creating bright colored garments with feminine details such as butterflies.
Please tell us about the portfolio you submitted to Preview. What is the concept behind it? How does it tie in with this year's theme, Silhouette?
The portfolio I submitted to Preview is based on butterflies and the colors of the purple palette in makeup. The shape of the wings of this magnificent creature is very interesting to play with, so I incorporated that within the collection. The fit away from the body is my take on this year’s theme on the reinvention of silhouettes. It was risky and tricky to pull off without sacrificing the flattery of the garment to a woman’s body. I just hope I would be able to let others see my collection through my perspective.
Please tell us about the piece that the Preview editors selected for you to execute.
The garment that Preview has selected is the first thing that I came up with. It’s the first piece that came to my mind after seeing a butterfly on a flower in my room window. The shape of the butterfly’s wings when it is closed is the basis of silhouette for the chosen piece. All the details will be fully embroidered then stitched to the main garment. Since its shape is a bit conic, the slash and spread technique would be greatly used in the whole process. Feminine colors such as pink, violet and purple have a big role when it comes to the color story of the garment. The biggest challenge in creating this garment would be making a fabric stiff to make it hold its shape throughout the whole runway show yet still make it look soft, subtle, and feminine. I want every piece to be represented artistically yet still hold its purpose which is to be a piece of clothing that women would wear.
Where do you get your inspiration? Who are you style influences/inspirations?
I get my inspiration from emotions I witness from others. For example when I see a girl crying, I would think of a long flowy gown made from layered chiffon with a burnt hem. I also get inspired by surroundings, the people I meet, my dreams, and mostly by the beat of songs. For this particular collection, I was playing the song "Scheibe" by Lady Gaga again and again. It’s about women empowerment that’s why I came up with pieces that have exaggerated shoulders to represent independent women. So that’s already a combination of nature and music working together in my mind for me to create a collection.
Which artists do you admire most, both local and foreign? How does your aesthetic resonate with theirs?
Alexander McQueen is my greatest fashion influence and a designer that I greatly look up to. His ability to be fearless when it comes to the clothes he presented on the runway is what I really admire the most. Artistic representation, a vision, and passion for what he did is something that I really want possess deeply into my whole being. McQueen’s vision is very far from mine, but I can say that we both have the same advocacy and that is to make a woman’s body a canvas of art: with our fabrics as paint and our threads our paintbrush. The garments look outrageous but the essence of making a woman look good is there.
What accomplishments in your budding career are you most proud of?
Probably the idea of being able to create clothing that the clients will love. Being able to pull out the best in them such as their personality and putting all that into that one dress is what I am mostly proud of. And of course being selected as a finalist for PEFTA could be my stepping stone for me to get into the fashion industry.
What aspect of fashion design do you seek to master?
I really want to master the art of pattern making. I don’t want to limit myself to what the school taught me, I want to explore far more. I want to be able to play more with patterns such as creating a one-seamed long gown or a triangular skirt and things like that.
How do you envision yourself evolving as a designer?
I want to be able to create not just artistic design but a movement that will make the world go crazy about. I want to be able to represent my generation the way Coco Chanel represented the 1920s. As I grow in the industry I’ll be able to develop how others see fashion. I will have the eye on sophistication and in what is new in fashion world.
How do you see yourself contributing to the growth of Philippine fashion?
I want to be able to bring Philippine fashion to greater heights. It’s about time the world sees the Philippines as a good source of fashion finds made by locals. I may not be the designer who uses indigenous materials, or the designer who creates loud garments, or the designer who simply designs; I want to be the designer who brings something to the table, it may not be entirely new but it represents something much deeper. I am the designer who has the passion to be the designer.
It’s what Philippine fashion needs now; designs that are not simply beautiful, but a designs that have essence, content, and a potential to be greater than what it already is.