Dear iDEALS, this is the new collection by Romina Karamanea as presented during the London Fashion Week a few days back. Romina is a designer I really like both as a creator and as a person. As you may notice, this post has a lot of "back" images of Romina's creations. The reason is simply because I feel that some of the clothes when seen from behind are complete masterpieces. The details are fantastic. A real couture touch transferred onto everyday wear. Well done Romina. Also , I am re-posting an older interview of Romina Karamanea, first published online through the previews web address of Un nouVeau iDEAL. It was very hard for me to find it since the old blog has been deleted for some months now. The interview first went online on Thursday, November 22, 2007 Dear iDEALS, Romina Karamanea is a young, emerging Greek fashion designer living in London. Her work has been recently applauded by several important fashion bibles such as SURFACE magazine. Even Isabella Blow noticed her talents, a few months before she passed away. FILEP MOTWARY: How does it feel for a Greek working in the London Fashion scene? ROMINA KARAMANEA: I never really thought of it that way but to be honest, I do not feel that the fact that I am Greek makes me feel much different from other designers working in London. Although being brought up in Greece contributed to the passionate and determined person that I am today.Establishing myself in London has never been for me a “national challenge” and my nationality has certainly not opened or closed any doors in my career so far.It was and remains an inspiring and highly competitive platform that motivates me to become better in what I do. FILEPMOTWARY:How where things for you when you first started compared to now? Where are you now and what are your future plans? ROMINA KARAMANEA: Being a young graduate I felt in a way as being an “actress” trying to become a part of a team that I believed in. Some years after, my development in the field gave me the opportunity, to see things differently. Today I feel that this team that I wanted to be part of, I can be its’ “director” and not just a member. As for my future plans, winning an Oscar in Cannes would not be that bad. If you know what I mean… FILEPMOTWARY: How important is the aftermath of a finished collection, regarding the steps you need to take for the next one? ROMINA KARAMANEA:The fact that my work is being criticized is enough to motivate me to take it to the next level. Now how each collection is been received (positively/negatively) is important but not critical for how I feel that my work is being evolved.I have always believed that the strictest judge of my work is myself-and I do not say that in a selfish kind of way. I value feedback but after all, I know myself better than anyone and my expectations are very high! I develop my skill, feeling always responsible to better my last effort. FILEP MOTWARY:Do you see the LONDON FASHION REVIVAL really coming , or is it just rumors. How different are things compared to 2005 to now? ROMINA KARAMANEA: Do I have to get into the procedure to analyse marketing terms? Because in the end of the day this is what it is all about. UK academically it is one of the most respected countries in the world. Having that reputation by default in combination with the very clever marketing that promotes the whole idea of London producing edgy fashion designers that graduate from schools such as Central Saint Martins has as a result for the last 15 years London being one of the most attractive destinations-for young people that want to study fashion and get industrial experience. That makes London the ultimate “stepping stone”. That is what it really stands for in the global fashion industry. The phenomenon “British” fashion designers –regardless nationality- having been appointed creative directors for some of the worlds’ most respected fashion houses is no coincidence.London fashion Week isn’t the same after McQueen, Kokosalaki, Chalayan and Boudicca decided to showcase their collections in Paris instead. Press and buyers lost their interest and even skipped LFW visits. That created a need for LFW to discover and support new up and coming talent in order to put London back in the international fashion map. London is a place that launches new generation of designers every few years. Some of which will be changing tomorrow’s scene. FILEP MOTWARY: Your summer collection has many references in architecture, straight or horizontal lines, pleats....What is the story behind it? ROMINA KARAMANEA: My work has always had architectural references-even while I was still studying.I love the challenge of experimenting with new forms and linear structures around the curvaceous female body and I guess that this has become my design signature over the last few years…For my latest collection S/S 2008 I wanted to create a look that would translate how I see society today transforming young, naive girls into strong, robot-esque women, in order to survive in the fast and demanding Metropolis.Strong emphasis is given on the Armour-like, squared upper part of the silhouette, especially at the shoulders and necklines; which are cropped, Tetris-like in various places to reveal the human still underneath. These also work as accessories that accent the collection and have a multi functional use.The lower part of the silhouette (in most pieces)is representing sensitivity and nostalgia, as it is kept sheer and fluid with delicate feminine details such as fine pleating.Contrast is also expressed on the colour palette. Bright clean colours like white and chartreuse opposite deep tones of forest, burgundy and black. Fabrics range from soft silk chiffons to waxed coated cottons. FILEPMOTWARY: Are you a part of the London Night Crowd? Why do you think London is stills o eccentric? ROMINA KARAMANEA: What is these kid's real aim behind their make-up. Occasionally, to catch up with friends. I have been clubbing for over 10 years in London and felt like taking a break from it all. I now spend most of my time in the studio concentrating on my work. London was and still is eccentric because it is one of the major international cultural centers. That makes it the most popular city in Europe. Today its population exceeds 8 million and its influence in politics, education, entertainment, media, fashion and the arts all contribute to its status as a major global city. Its residents come from such a diverse background and religions and in order for that to work it was necessary that people respected each others freedom of expression. This “freedom” can of course be viewed as eccentricity by its visitors (tourists) but for someone who actually lives in London for a while it becomes every day normality. As for the purpose of young clubbers wearing theatrical make-up I would think that it is a way to escape the pressure of this demanding city and have fun. Also the fact that London has such a huge population creates a need -at least for some people- to stand out from the crowd and celebrate their individuality. FILEP MOTWARY: Is it true that most people in the fashion magazines we buy work for free? Do you think that the fashion industry takes advantage of the young and talented? ROMINA KARAMANEA: Working for such magazines is a mutual point of reference for young creative professionals and the only platform that will allow them to express their creative vision and let them push the boundaries. Having published work in directional magazines will eventually pay these artists dividends as it gives their work much needed credentials. Something essential in order to sign up with an agent that will agree to represent their work to international clients and will open them doors to well paid opportunities like advertising campaigns. So if you ask me it is more of an investment. FILEP MOTWARY: What are your plans for the future? ROMINA KARAMANEA: Explore and expand. But most importantly continue doing what I love without having to compromise in ways that are against my ideals. I aim to develop my technique and at the same time be self-critical. I have dreams and ambition, and I try –as much as I can-to define them in the realms of logic. A real challenge! Therefore, I am prepared to go the extra mile in order to achieve my professional goals through hard work and realistic business planning.
NOTE: The interview of Romina is part of the FASHION ISTEROGRAFO FASHION ISSUE III coming out in JANUARY 2008. The photos are by PANOS DAVIOS.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: In 2007, you won a BFA(1). This year, Luella won the BFA. You are friend of Gareth Pugh… is there a Deacon posse?
GILESDEACON: I suppose it appears that may be from the outside, but Luella that I knew from St Martin’s was two year below me. I have known her for fifteen or more years. Gareth, his studio is very close to mine; I’ve known him for five years. I think it’s very different in London than it is say in Paris where people work very, very independently. There is no crossing at all. In London everyone is with each other all the time, it’s much more like a healthy competitiveness, than a kind of people are more willing to help out each other.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: It was the same thing with the previous generation, John Galliano, Alexander Mac Queen or Antonio Berardi?
GD: Yeah, I think it worked like that. I mean it’s…in particular with this group, kind of group you are talking about now…I was a bit of a funny one. I was in college with Alexander, Stella, but I set my own company relatively late, because I wanted to go work for other people. I worked with Jean Charles de Castelbajac in Paris, Gucci, Bottega Venetta, etc. I wanted to get kind of get experience about the cities and the way which other people work. I left college and I didn’t really know how it all worked. I really wanted to see that, I think that I really benefited me in the kind of outlook I have. I think I have, from a design perspective, a slightly different understanding of what customers and people around the world want.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: In 2003, you opened your fashion house. What does a designer need today to start in this business (except money -smile-?)
GD: First of all a good relationship with the bank manager who looks after your money (laughs). They need to have a very clear idea of what their aesthetic is about, what they want to achieve from setting up a fashion house. I hate to use the word “DNA” that people seem to like to use, but you need to know what the thing is that you’re wanting to project.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: A lot of new designer are coming from London, you, Gareth Pugh… Do you think it’s easier for a new designer to start in England ?
GD: Yeah… so much easier. I think the reason is the colleges and I think the general kind of cultures in London is so diverse and it’s very ideas driven from music through to graphics, art. There’s a big interest in creativity and ideas. It’s kind of is everywhere and for some reason it seems to work. You sit and try analyzing it, as I’ve thought about it before… but I don’t really know what the answers are, but it kind of exists and it does. It’s just kind of one of those things, which is great…great for London
CHRISTIAN POULOT: Because there is more creativity?
GD: I don’t know if it’s that… I think that there is from an outside perspective from people all over the world, I don’t know why, there is a much bigger willingness to kind of accept something new from London than pretty much anywhere else. I don’t know if there’s lots of ideas…I don’t know, but it seems that if it’s “from London” it might be something. I don’t know, that seems to be the impression that I get. I think it’s a shame because there’s lots of great people starting up in all sorts of places that are really, really good and I think it’s all harder for them in certain worlds to get as far…you can reach a bigger audience much quicker in London, I think than lots of other places.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: You worked for Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren and they are very different in style, how difficult was it for you to adjust, question #1, and would you call it a useful experience ?
GD: I think it’s a very useful experience, if you decide to go want to go and get a job which is what the idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated from college, because you know that the number of graduates who end up working in design is tiny. I wanted to go and get experience working in other environments and you pick certain areas in your personality that you feel you have some connection with from a design perspective. It’s really important, as a designer, you should be able to understand what these different houses thing is about… and then put you take and understanding on how to design for that house. That’s why when people come and work for me and I set them a project to do, I don’t know, design some skirts or something for the collection; it’s no good if they come back and just come back with things just suitable for Comme des Garcons…they have to get an understanding of what the house is about and it’s a very, very important thing as a designer…especially if you want to work.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: There was in your last collection “some” Pac-Man, Pac-Man prints, Pac-Man hats… Giles are you a computer geek??
GD: I don’t think I’m a computer geek, I love all aspects of technology, and I embrace that very much so and if that means I’m a computer geek, then maybe…. The whole idea of using Pac-Man was something that came along from when we were doing fittings with Stephen Jones who is the milliner. Every season it works differently. For the forthcoming show, we’ve already designed all the hats and the clothes are going to be designed after the hats. The shoes that Christian Louboutin has done have been designed already, so the clothes will be designed around those. Whereas last season; it worked in a way that the hats came quite late in the process. The clothes were coming out quite graphic, the colors. It just worked, we played with shapes, we made these balls….and said,”They look like PAC-Man.”…then we decided, “Wouldn’t that be funny? Wouldn’t that be a nice idea? ”. That’s how it came around. It wasn’t because I used to sit playing PAC-Man all the time. I like it when accidents and intuitive things come along. I like it when it’s not so all referential throughout the collection.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: I loved your prints and you mentioned graphics… Do you work with graphic designers on this collection? GD: Yeah, every season I have. There is this guy called Rory Crichton
who I’ve known for a long, long time and we work very closely
together. Again, there is no set format of how we do it. Sometimes
Rory will come along to a fitting and we’ll discuss things…tear sheets
that I’ve saved over a period of time or things…might be something we
see today, see something take a photograph of it, print it out. We
keep big archive books of just images of things. You intuitively feel
certain times, certain things feel right. Let’s do an abstract
camouflage or something. It just works like that or Rory could have an
idea of something that he maybe wants to do, some ideas he’s had and
then we’ll design something for the print. So, it can work in many
ways, which I really like, it keeps it fresh and the ideas exciting
instead of seeing reams of ready to buy prints. I really like
designing them. We work really closely on that.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: On the subject of that collaboration, today there are
many cases of such a types of collaboration. There is Rei Kawakuko
working with H&M and now you have architects that design shoes,
illustrators that draw dresses and clothes. Do you think that’s a good
thing, creative and positive or does it tend to makes things more
common place? GD: I think it’s a really good thing, I’m all for
people trying to experiment in other areas of design. I think that
designers and inherently creative people don’t like being
compartmentalized. I think it’s great that people have got the
opportunities to test other things. Some may work, some may not. Reach
out to a larger audience to see ideas and creativity which can only be
good things. It’s good as long as you retain the core values of what
you are about and work really hard on that. I think it’s essentially a
really good, interesting thing.
(Tanqueray No. Ten, world's finest gin Martini. Art-Déco style designed by Giles)
CHRISTIAN POULOT:About the internet, do you read fashion blogs? Do you know any of them? GD: I go on a couple, yeah. I have a look on style.com. I have on look on boingboing. I often get to them by looking for something. This friend of mine does one blog on shoes, which is quite interesting.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: So you don’t specifically read fashion blogs? GD: Sometimes, not everyday, no. But I do read
them. I don’t follow them like a newspaper every day, it’s when
researching or looking for something then I kind of get redirected
CHRISTIAN POULOT:Do you think internet is going to affect the relationship that people have with fashion, in general?
Yeah, it increases your speed of seeing things, doesn’t it? You can
see much quicker all around the world what’s going on. If you want to
find out what’s going on in Reykjavik or Buenos Aires you can go in
there and find things or find new stores. So, yeah… one thing that I do think is that it’s another channel for ideas to be seen.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: Isaac Mizrahi has asked web-surfers to send him some
designs for a customized T-shirt, then he’ll choose one and he’ll put
it on his show and promote it. What do you think of this? GD: Yeah, it’s great, it’s great fun. It’s brilliant
for people to get access to things; you choose to enter the
competition. It’s a bit of an interesting idea.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: What’s the last thing that struck you ? A movie, a picture you saw, trip you took? GD: I was in Venice before it started flooding, about
7 to 8 days ago…which is really fantastic and I always really love
going there. I was in Moscow the week before that, which I had never
been to, which was really incredible. Kind of fascinating on lots of
levels: of seeing the super amount of money to the complete lack of
money. A very different dynamic to being in a European city, the way
that everything is done. It’s really quite extraordinary; I’d like to
have bit more of a look there. But in regards to a film, there was an
interesting program on the television called Survivors. It’s about a
group of people who find out that they are all alive after a large
epidemic has wiped out a large amount of the population and I thought
it was quite fascinating on how you would start dealing with all of
that, it was pretty thought provoking.
CHRISTIAN POULOT:Future projects??
GD: Future projects…well, the collection which is paramount…and we do pre-collection now. We are doing a collaboration with Smythson,
a kind of diary. We are doing some sketches of mine put onto some the
notebooks and notepads and things which are being really beautifully
done and really nicely printed. Um…what else are we doing? I mean,
there are all sorts of things flying around, we are doing some more
sunglasses, or tons of stuff.
CHRISTIAN POULOT: You are a great illustrator can you draw something for me (smiles)?? GD: Can I draw something for you? Dum, dum dum, what
shall I draw for you ?… All right… (sketching noises)… This isn’t an
example of a great illustration… But you can have, how about… there you
go ! You can have a… mask ! Cut across the dotted line… Get the
scissors out when you get home… There you go !
Dear iDEALS, most of you are familiar with Christian's work. He was participating in last year's edition of Hyeres and I am quite fond of his wearable work. Here is his SS09 collection, a few days before the presentation of his Winter looks. For more click here.