by: Lex Perry
Let me take you back to the Philippines Fashion week, specifically on the 12th day of April during the third and final day of Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival Season 8. Allow me to express how privileged we were to witness a grand fashion show curated by the Philippines’ first specialized design college – the School of Fashion and the Arts or otherwise known as the SoFA design institute. Here we got to see the amazing collections made by the 25 graduates for the school year 2018.
In this event, I was with 3 other members of the team namely Alex, Migs & Paolo. Our group consisted of 2 writers & 2 photographers. We arrived at the Shangri-la Hotel at around 6 in the evening – just a few minutes before the start of the program. Being at the venue, you could already sense that it was a fashion event. Models were passing through here and there; shirt racks were being handed from one person to another and majority if not all of the audience were elegantly dressed from feet up.
We proceeded to the Marquee Tent after the registration and we were warmly welcomed with opening remarks from various fashion designers and professors alike, the last introduction was the final remarks coming from design specialist & SoFA co-founder Amina Aranaz-Alunan before the amazing and thoughtfully created collections made by the brilliant students were revealed.
The event lasted for about 2 hours and there were absolutely no dull moments. Each and every designer has their own style and aesthetic with regard to their collection and it was really a treat seeing the sophistication, creativity and art of these young talented individuals. With these people being the next ones in line – the future sure is going to be a lot exciting and bright.
photos by: Alex Gamir
Now let’s dive deeper and take a closer look on the thoughts of one of the young designers and see how she conceptualized and created her own collection. A 2-yr graduate of the Fashion Design & Marketing course from SoFA, I sat down with Kat Doloricon who also happens to be a member of our creative team, and I asked her about the process of how her ideas came about and how she was able to pull everything off.
From how the mood and inspiration was found and developed to how the pieces were produced; from presenting the ideas to her mentors to exhibiting her creations to a big audience. We talk about everything and discuss it all to give you guys an idea on what goes on not only behind the curtains but what goes on the drawing board – the first step of the creation process.
So Kat, please describe your style as a designer and tell us about the designers and/or fashion influencers you look up to?
I like that minimalist & classy feel and I think Victoria Beckham has that style, but at the same time I also into streetwear and styles that are edgy and I think Rihanna promotes that with her Fenty line.
I don’t have a specific style yet since I’m still exploring and trying to figure out what will best fit me as a designer. Out of all the styles that I’m into, my favorite would have to be avant garde because it doesn’t have restrictions and it doesn’t follow a specific set of rules. It’s more of the use and formulation of the materials, whatever you think of is permitted so it doesn’t limit your creativity.
Why are you curious to try these different kinds of styles?
I’m still trying it all out. I’m still not expert on one particular style but there’s a part of me that gets interested to try out other things, once I get the idea, it sparks the curiosity in me to try it out and I think this is mainly because I am still in the process of finding my identity as a designer.
I see. Now you’ve recently came off a school graduation that happens to be in the form of a runway exhibit in the highly anticipated Panasonic Manila Fashion Festival. Tell us the inspiration behind your collection.
Aside from exploring my identity and growth as a designer, it also involves my life experiences from both the past and present. We were instructed to create a mood sculpture and it should represent who we are as a designer so what I sculpted was a flower made of industrial materials which is wire and it is partly inspired by my study of BA Industrial Design in the University of the Philippines. My father is a known educator and artist in the school so great things were expected from me. I was overwhelmed by the circumstances and on my fourth year, I realized that it was not the path I wanted to take so I went to pursue a course in fashion design since that’s what I really want to learn.
The great thing is that I can apply the lessons I learned from my previous course in my studies now so I decided to combine the two and make my sculpture a blend of both programs. Also, if you look at it, you would see that some parts of my collection are restricted because that was what I was feeling then.
What do you want your audience to attain or feel from your creations?
I want them to get to know me, to be curious of what’s the story behind it and make them wonder what’s going through my head.
Take us through the creation process of having your collection produced.
Initially, I was told to scratch the draft of my first collection and dig deeper, so I made another collection with about 14 designs in total and it was made with only wire. The title of my collection is ‘Morphology’, and the principle behind the idea was literally about growth. The designs are styled in an expanding manner that is similar to the growth of a flower but in avant garde style.
My mentors liked the idea but they advised me to mix it with fabric; and so I had to devise a 3rdcollection. The idea was interesting so I gave it a try and I think that I was able to magnify and bring out my own aesthetic in the pieces I drew even if my styles are not yet tightly knitted together. It’s edgy and dark since I really like black. – I designed it wih mixed media and it was able to represent me better as a designer because it was identical to my prior creations.
ctto of the other photos: Kat Doloricon, Jionor Verona
I had a lot of fun creating my mood sculpture so I thought why not experiment with wire and fabrics. I was already trying to picture how I was going to have the pieces produced and I already realized then that it was going to be a tough challenge for me given that I can’t depend on anyone else to have them produced. Only I knew the process of making every piece in my collection; and since I started late with the production because of the frequent changes I had to do with the drafting, I knew that I was going to have a hard time.
Luckily, my friend and fellow graduate Candice Arboleda recommended a sewer who doesn’t charge much and works fast. So I worked with the sewer and acquired help in the base design since I am making use of fabric and when it was turned over to me, I worked on the main details and still had a lot of tweaking to do.
I had to make sure that my pieces are tightly secure and can be worn properly so the models wouldn’t have a hard time walking on the runway. I was very meticulous about every detail of every piece, especially the structure and the form because I do not want it to look like it’s deformed.
I also struggled with painting because it was very tricky to put up and dry. Even in the actual day of the exhibit, I had to cram and work on some pieces. I was still stitching and working on some attachments that morning – fortunately, I got everything done exactly 2 hours before our call time and the painting got dry about an hour before the models wore it.
You’ve had your fair share of struggles and perhaps sleepless nights. But surely, you must have some good moments. What’s the best one out of the entire experience?
It’s the feeling of satisfaction seeing your concept and idea come to life.
From the design blueprint to the production down to its presentation in front of a big crowd with important people – how does it feel now that you’ve gotten through all of this?
I was feeling nervous on the day of the exhibit; I wasn’t feeling confident and satisfied with my creations. The other collections were really full of fabric compared to mine so I thought that there was something lacking. I think that I could do better but I really have given it my all. I was unsure of what to feel but when we were lined up before the actual presentation, I heard the cheers and the claps from the crowd. When the music started playing, I started to imagine what the place looked like. I instantly got overwhelmed and excited. After my name was called and I got in stage, that’s when it all synced in.
I got some good feedback from the people, I saw the pictures and I think everything looked beautiful. If I’m going to recall the past when I was still visualizing all of these, I never thought that I would be able to design something like it but it is also inherent in me to take account of the preparations, what I could have done to make it better, and also focus on the areas to improve.
I’m still at a high and I’m really inspired by the event. It adds fuel in me to create more and design better.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from all of this?
Never ever cram. That’s really it. Don’t get too confident that you can finish everything ahead from cramming. In my personal experience, there are times that the outcome would look better as a result of cramming but I’ve learned that it’s best to take in the time to really immerse in what you do because it will allow you to see how you can further improve your creation and fine tune the details that needs to be worked on.
What do you aim to do next?
Actually, I just plan to keep on creating, maybe establish my own brand in the process but when I was about to make the social media accounts for my brand, I was thinking how I was going to set it up because I want to do a lot of things – a capsule collection, maybe similar to that of a casual women’s wear but at the same time, I’m also really into streetwear. I already have some designs ready for a long time now but I haven’t really given it that much focus because I was busy with school.
I am still somewhat confused as to how I’m going to curate and manage the styles that I’ll embody and present. I’ll have upcoming designs and collections ready in the future but right now, I’m still in the midst of figuring these things out.
Just imagine drafting not one, not two, but three intricately designed collections before having them produced mostly by yourself, not to mention starting late and having little or less time while you’re at it. At times, you could really be tested and severely challenged by the adversities around you but it’s a matter of stepping up and showing what you’re capable of because backing down and giving up is simply not an option – at least for those who are eager to go after what they truly want.
Shortly after the exhibit, Kat got requests for pull-outs and features. A blossoming career is in sight but she doesn’t intend to stop there. After all the road bumps and hold-ups in her journey, she is determined to do more and create more. It’s amazing how she is able to utilize every experience to her advantage and use it as an avenue to go further. She has a lot in store for us and I can’t wait to see how it will all unfold. Try to apply the things you’ve learned from the past to develop your present life even if they don’t seem to have a direct connection. Thank yourself in the future.