Monday, 19 September 2011

VFS Exhibition - Q&A with Manuela Dack

Photography by Ezzidin Alwan

Where did you study?

I studied at Middlesex University and graduated last year, so this is my second season.

What was the inspiration behind your SS12 collection?

I grew up in the Caribbean so elements of it were inspired by my childhood. A lot of the details I have reflect that, like the leather I had printed to look like a stingray, a lot of the bead work and the embroidery of squid and lobsters. Even the color tones we kept quite fresh and summer like. The collection is quite craft based. It was really interesting to see what craft skills were in the UK and to try and use those. It’s about taking craft skills and using them in a modern way.

When it comes to your designs, how do you work? What is your process?

We try and keep everything British based. All of our beadwork is done in house and the embroiderer we work with has done stuff for Erdem. I don’t have a specific process but I’m always researching whatever is interesting me at the time. The belts for example, were inspired by a beaded belt I had when I was 5yrs old. I like taking details that have an element of nostalgia with them, then doing something sophisticated and modern.

What has been your highlight of exhibiting at VFS this week?

It’s been amazing! Particularly this season, people are more interested in exhibitions than ever before. I was just talking to a woman from Swarovski who was really impressed with the quality and standard of work, and that is something a lot of people have commented on. New designers have realised that to compete with other designers you have to be at the same level of quality, and that’s something that everyone who has visited has noticed.

What is next for you?

Just developing the new season and also introducing more accessories. This season we did belts and we are looking to include bags as well, which I think will really work with the materials that we use. Were also looking at getting new stockiests here and internationally. A lot of our press has been international like we were featured in W magazine and ELLE Japan, so it is important to us that our international fan base can access our pieces.

What advise would you give to young aspiring designers?

Determination and persistence! If it is something that you really want to do then just do it. There will always be people telling you not to do it, and it is a very competitive industry. But if you are passionate about it and have great ideas then you will do well. I have been lucky because I have had a some amazing mentors, such as Benjamin Kirchhoff, and they taught us to be confident in your work and believe in it. Your never going to please everyone, so stick to what you like and take it from there. 

Text: Samantha Farr