Interview: British Fashion Designer Charlie May

Interview: British Fashion Designer Charlie May

Meet Charlie May the 24 year-old London based designer. She graduated from the University of the West of England in 2010 with a BA (hons) in Fashion Design, and achieved her London Fashion Week debut with her own label at such a young age. Presenting her first full Spring-Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear collection. Ms. May’s designs are a reflection of her passion for fashion which she combines with minimalism, precise interesting tailoring and impeccable finishing to clothing. In addition, her designs are freshly charming with simple silhouettes that slip on your body with elegance.

To learn more about Charlie May, please visit her official website. And her clothing line can exclusively be purchased at BENGT.

RH: You were born and raised on a farm in the South West of England. How did you manage to make the transition to fashion designer esp. at such a young age?
CM: I was totally unaware of fashion until college, I loved shoes and was planning to open a shoe shop, so started a business course. It was then I started getting into Riot Grrl music and DIYing my clothes, I very quickly realised I needed to switch to Art & Design, specialising in Fashion and fell more and more in love!

RH: Tell us about your design process from beginning to end and what is a typical day for you?
CM: My day really varies depending on the stage of the season! The design process for a collection starts usually in the middle of creating the last one; I think about it a lot, the colour palette, the fabrics, the whole mood, and then about 3 months before fashion week and start designing and buying the fabrics. The fabrics then need to be dyed, I toile for a couple of months until the garments are spot on and then start working with my seamstress. The original design sheet usually ends up quite different as I chop and change a lot as I go on, the styling is also changed around before the presentation.

RH: How do you select your fabrics, before or after you draw your collection? And what you look for when choosing a fabric?
CM: I love using naturals fabrics; silks, wools and leathers are my favourite! I’ll loosely design the collection, then buy the fabrics and re draw, letting the newly bought fabrics inspire the designing. As soon as I feel the fabric, I know the purpose they should have.

RH: What does fashion mean to you? And do you have any other passions besides fashion?
CM: Fashion is all about design to me personally. A garment that makes you ask how it was made and the story behind it. My other passions are travel and photography which I share through my blog Girl a la Mode.

RH: What part of your job do you like the best? and Least?
CM: Seeing your garments being worn and loved is the absolute best feeling in the world! Also seeing them in editorials in a completely different context is a great feeling. I dislike the struggle for funding; as creating a collection is a huge money vacuum, but that is to be expected.

Spring-Summer 2012

RH: Do you remember your very first sale?
CH: Yes of course! I got an overwhelming response for the gold studded pony skin headbands from SS12 which I saw being worn around London fashion week!

RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?
CH: Work hard for what you want.

RH: What 5 words would best describe your brand?
CM: Minimal, clean, textured, androgynous and effortless,

RH: How would you define your style? If you could give women a fashion tip(s) to be fabulous, what would it be?
CM: Quite minimal and clean but tailored as well. I believe a woman looks more chic when she is comfortable with herself so don’t choose shoes you can’t walk in or a skirt that’s too short because it will show. Just be comfortable with who you are!

RH: Who would you most like to see wearing your clothes?
CM: Tilda Swinton!

 

Autumn-Winter 2012

RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?
CM: I take a lot of style inspiration from bloggers; here are some of my favourites – Ivania of Love Aesthetics, Jayne of Stop It Right Now, Josefin of Fashion Sphere

RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?
CM: I hope to show on schedule at fashion week and be selling in boutiques worldwide, when I get there, I’ll be happy.

RH: Do you have any any hidden or unusual talents?
CM: I can bend my arms back pretty far, I guess that’s just a talent for creeping people out.

RH: What’s your favorite getaway spot? And where would you like to live other than London?
CM: I love to getaway to my hometown in Devon, on the farm and in the countryside, it’s my happy place! I wouldn’t want to live in London forever, but I wouldn’t want to go back to Devon either; I’ll have to do some more traveling to find out.

RH:  Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?
CM: Nothing I can talk about yet but watch this space for some exciting collaborations!

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.

Interview – Watch Designer Winky Wu

Interview – Watch Designer Winky Wu

It is with such pleasure that I introduce you this new line of colorful, fun and unique watches for your everyday use, designed by Winky Wu, founder of Winky Designs. So I was excited to invite her to answer a few questions and delighted that she accepted graciously to my invitation. She’s been very busy traveling around the world promoting her brand so I was lucky to be able to share Winky’s dreams, inspiration and creations in this exclusive interview. I hope you love her work as much as I do.

Please check out her official website for your favorite color.

RH: Tell me about the design process and when it began? What first inspired you?

W.W: People may not notice this, but the watch market is going through an evolutionary period right now because cell phones have pretty much killed watches in the same way that video killed the radio star! As a watch designer though, I saw a great opportunity here to redefine what watches mean to the modern consumer. It’s no longer just a time keeping device, but also a fashion accessory, a conversation starter, and a means of self expression. My motto has always been “It’s not just a watch, it’s an attitude!” – and that’s really the core thinking behind my design process.

I was first inspired to do this when I noticed that the selections of watches in the marketplace were either really expensive brand name designs, or very cheap and tacky watches of poor quality. I saw an opportunity to serve the market in-between, by improving the quality, adding style, and still offering them at reasonable prices. So I launched Winky Designs to share my line of fun and affordable watches with the world!

RH: Which part of the business do you enjoy the most? And the least?

W.W: My business is like my baby, and honestly I enjoy every moment of it because it’s extremely fulfilling to watch it grow. If I had to pinpoint one thing though, I would have to say the best part is the flexibility! I can run my business from any location, for example, right now I’m in Munich, Germany where I’ll be staying for a month. Having flexible hours is also great, for example, when I go to sleep at night I never set an alarm to wake up in the morning so the work day only starts I wake up naturally. On the downside, running a business is a lot of hard work and there’s always more to do! I pretty much work from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep (even on the weekends!).

RH: Is it easy to come up with new designs? What are your inspirations?

W.W: It’s not easy to come up with a new design, but it helps if you have a clear vision. So far, my 3 collections of watches are all inspired by fun foods and cocktail drinks. When you’re wearing a delicious watch like the Mint Choc Chip watch or the Tequila Sunrise watch, it feels like it’s happy hour every hour on your wrist! The themes are great because they really bring out the essence of joy, color and freshness into my products.


RH: What materials do you prefer to work with? What influences your choice of materials? Do you favor one color over another?

W.W: The slap band watches are made out of silicone because the material is durable, comfortable, waterproof, and hypoallergenic which makes it a great “everyday” watch. The bracelet watches are for more classy occasions so they’re mainly made out of leather, but they’re unlike traditional leather watches because they’ve each got their own modern twist to it.The Ice Cream Bracelets features 4 separate leather straps including a braided one which gives the watch a fun and feminine feel. The On the Rocks collection features semi-precious stones weaved into leather straps and are extremely elegant! I love all the colors, but I think I prefer the more unconventional colors because how often can you find a cool mint green colored watch?

RH: What is a typical work day for you?

W.W: Typically, I start my day by checking emails, making calls and corresponding with my customers and wholesalers. Some time is also spent doing research and keeping on top of fashion trends and new watch styles. If I have some new design ideas, I may go out and buy the materials I need and spend the afternoon putting together some samples. At night, most of my time is spent talking to my manufacturers in Asia as we have a 12 hour time difference and they only become available after 9pm. It is a full-day job!

RH: Can you tell me a little about the quality guarantee and warranty for your watches?

W.W: Absolutely! I invest a lot in the quality and every watch I make is equipped with Japanese Quartz movement and are water resistant. The slap band watches are actually water resistant up to 98 feet so that you can swim with them as well! We want people to buy our watches with confidence and we offer a one-year warranty on all our products.


RH: Describe the type of girl or guy (?) you envision wearing your watches? Does gender matter?

W.W: Every watch I design is a watch I would wear myself, so my target customers are generally young women like me who want to express their individual styles in fun and practical ways. I have had men buy the slap watches, but my color selections and styles are more targeted towards women so far (although I do have some ideas for men’s collections in the future!).

RH: What’s the story behind the “On the Rocks” collection?

W.W: This is my favorite collection personally! The accessory trend in 2012 is all about stacking, and precious stones are making a comeback as a popular material in jewelry this year as well. I’ve simply taken it to the next level by making fashionable jewelry that also tells you the time as a bonus!

The “On the Rocks” bracelets are made out of different types of semi-precious stones (onyx, amethyst, pink agate etc) hand-woven through leather straps. I envisioned people wearing these to trendy restaurants and lounges, so my friend Jeanette suggested naming the watches after fun and flirty cocktail drinks. Shortly after, “On the Rocks” came to me randomly one day, and the play on words just tied the whole collection together perfectly. The theme also lends itself to cool slogans like “It’s Happy Hour, Every Hour!” or “These watches will make your wrist drunk with style!”. It’s been really fun coming up with these cheesy but memorable tag lines.

RH: Which five words best describe your brand?

W.W: Fun, modern, colorful, fashionable and affordable

RH: Do your remember your first sale?

W.W: When I first launched my business I was mainly selling to friends, but I do remember my first sale to a complete stranger on my website. I was so excited when I got the order! It’s really fulfilling to know that others enjoy and love the designs as well.

RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?

W.W: So far I’ve been focused on growing Winky Designs in the US market, but the long term goal is to build up an internationally recognized brand. I’ve already started building some traction in Canada, Australia, Mexico, and the Middle East which has been exciting.

Winky Designs has only been selling watches so far but we’ll soon be expanding into other accessories starting with these really awesome Recyclable Plastic Belts. Read on to know more about it!

RH: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?

W.W: We’ve got many exciting things planned for the rest of the year (which is top secret!), but we are proud to announce that our newest collection of Recyclable plastic belts will be debuting this Spring!

These plastic belts come in many vibrant colors and are designed to be one size fits all (you can cut the plastic to make it any length you want). However, they do come in different sizes (Classic cut, Slim Cut and Kids). It’s made completely out of plastic so it’s recyclable, waterproof, hypoallergenic and convenient to travel with (you won’t need to take these off when passing through the metal detectors!) These will be on sale for an affordable price of $25 and come packaged in a cute & clear plastic box which will be perfect for gifting!


PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.

Interview with Fashion Designer Adolfo Sanchez

Interview with Fashion Designer Adolfo Sanchez

Last year during one of the L.A. Fashion Week I had the opportunity to meet  fashion designer Adolfo Sanchez. I really liked what I saw from his collection on the runway for the first time since being acquainted in New York. Mr. Sanchez fascinated me with his ability and creativity to design such amazing garments. I made a point to let him know that I admire his style and uniqueness. No doubt that each piece he creates is original and brilliantly constructed, with extraordinary quality and special attention to detail.

Since then I’ve spent a little more time, my schedule permitting, following his work and attending his events, curious to see how his work evolves with time.

The 26-year-old and youngest of four, with both parents from Mexico, was born in Los Angeles and raised just South of L.A. in Orange County. That’s where Mr. Sanchez took his first steps into the fashion scene. A self-taught designer who simply followed his passion for clothes which guided him to his destiny of his own couture line: a women’s ready-to-wear collection that launched in 2006. After just a couple of years his line grows more and more each season and he along with it — because it is meant to be.

He has been showing his collections to the most prestigious runway shows from L.A and Las Vegas to New York Fashion Weeks, featured in countless fashion magazines, with great opportunities of working with a lot of amazing people. He’s dressed celebrities from the Gossip Girl actresses Shayne Lamas from “Leave it to Lamas”, pulled clothes for Nicki Minaj for one of her albums, and has now been approached by Fergie’s stylist. Adolfo just presented the line to Rihanna’s stylists as well. Women want his clothes for their edgy, sexy and modern styles that adorn a woman’s body so well. Dressed in an Adolfo line makes you feel strong, unique and desirable. So enjoy this exclusive interview with the man behind the scenes. To learn more about Adolfo Sanchez, please visit his official web site.

Adolfo Sanchez – collection

RH: When did your career in the fashion industry begin? And what did you do before?

AS: When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I started to really get into the art of fashion. My primary group of friends were largely interested in several of the fashion houses; through their influence, I got my first taste of the who’s who of fashion. I remember them showing me runway shows from designers like Thierry Mugler and Vivienne Westwood. Later on I began working in retail and soon I worked for some of the larger fashion houses like Gucci, and Versace. In early 2006 I decided that I wanted to design and really explore pursuing a career in the industry. Prior to pursuing my interest in fashion, I was just a rebellious teenager who was intrigued by underground aspects of art/fashion/music and exploring the latest trends. I always experimented with what I wore and enjoyed standing out from the crowd.

RH: What inspired your collection? Is it easy to come up with new designs?

AS: This season I wanted to create a dark collection with an aesthetic was wearable for women from east to west. Initially it began with the idea of lace and then after bringing the concept of a Victorian Goth collection together the lace was only used as a mask. I always love combining soft and hard details together for example we had dresses with a leather bustier inspired bodice and chiffon skirts. Wool and fur were some of the other textiles that played a big role in this collection. Overall, the collection looks soft and feminine but still incorporates details that very much let people know who I am as a designer.

RH: What are the benefits of your career? What do you find most rewarding?

AS: The idea of seeing your vision come to life when you see the complete line, as well as being able to experience the process of growth as an unknown designer to being recognized for your work and aesthetic. It’s a very rewarding feeling professionally and personally to see the transformation occur.

RH: What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?

AS: I am a perfectionist so my main discrepancy is that sometimes I feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to make sure every aspect of the business is running as efficiently as I expect it to.

RH: What do you think fashion needs more of right now?

AS: More creativity. I feel like the main focus is on wearability, which I understand is definitely extremely important (it’s the lucrative part of the industry); however the art aspect should not be lost in the process. At the end of the day we are not only fulfilling a utilitarian function, we are extracting the unique remnants of an artist’s imagination that marks the current movements and influences of our culture. We are creating something that should spark curiosity.

RH: What skills do you need to be a fashion designer?

AS: Patience, technique, dedication, perseverance, thick skin, and creativity with an understanding of wear ability. I also think that in order to be a designer you should have the knowledge of how to construct a garment from scratch. You should know the process that begins with the idea in your mind to the finished product that is ready for a client to wear.

New True Blood Star Janina Gavankar in Adolfo Sanchez At True Blood Season 4 Premiere

RH: Do you design clothes for certain types of women?

AS: When I design, I have powerful, confident women in mind. She is comfortable with taking risks in life and with her personal style.

RH: What makes a woman memorable?

AS: A woman who is in full control of her style; when she actually wears the garment instead of the garment wearing her.

RH: What is your favorite piece from your collections that you are most proud of? Why?

AS: This intricate lace evening gown made up of 67 yards of fabric that I ruffled from the waist down. It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces because of the amount of time I spent to get it done, in addition to how happy I was with the final result.

RH: Do you have admiration for any famous designer(s)? Why?

AS: Always and forever the work of McQueen will always be the ultimate definition of wearable art in my eyes … and so many of the big houses I love. I have followed the work of Gaultier and Galliano since I was 15 or 16. I think one of the most amazing and inspirational is Thierry Mugler. I was and still am fascinated with the way that he would transform women and a woman’s silhouette.

RH: Outside of fashion, what are you looking forward to? And what is your career objective?

AS: I’m very much looking forward to my upcoming trip to France this September. I love traveling and enjoy experiencing the culture in other countries.

RH: Any new or upcoming project(s) your are working on that you’d like to share with us?

AS: I’m happy to say that I will be showing and having a runway presentation in N.Y. this upcoming September; details should be announced soon. The trailer to my first film that I styled and custom created for will be out this summer. For the time being this is all I can really say as the rest is still in the development phase but believe me when I tell you that there is so much more to come.

RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you would like to say?

AS: “The beauty of fashion is that, unlike a painting on a wall, fashion is wearable art that can be displayed anywhere you like”.

Adolfo Sanchez – collection

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.

Designer Profile: Hot!Couture Sara Di Salvo

Designer Profile: Hot!Couture Sara Di Salvo

Last year I met a young designer Sara Di Salvo during one of New York’s fashion shows in the Meatpacking district. An adorable girl who speaks English with a lovely Italian accent, I would prefer to speak Italian with her but she said “no, no, no… I have to practice English during the time I’m in New York.” “No problem with me,” I said…

During our conversation I noticed that she was observing me a lot — think she was unsure of what to say. I told her she can relax with me and tell me her story. Mrs. Di Salvo is a 26 years old Rome born Italian designer who graduated from the International Fashion Academy “KOEFIA” of Rome. Debuting her first graduation collection in 2008 at the “Spazio Etoile” her inspirations come from images of her surrounding. During these visual experiences she creates amazing, sensual and elegant collections based in incredible attention to detail in tailoring and passion for fashion. She choreographed her own photo shoots to make sure that everything goes well in expressing “her”. Sara’s dresses were well received and therefore a great success by the public, and caught the eye of famous fashion experts and TV shows in Italy.

She’s been featured in Italian magazines e.g. Sky.it, DMODA, Suitcase and many more. Her gowns are top quality and definitely Red-Carpet style. Soon she will be on everyone’s lips. Below are images of her 2010 new collection Come Un Fiore. Please check out Sara Di Salvo’s official website: www.hotcouture.info

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.