So the season for the highly-competitive fashion designer competition relives again as Audi Star Creation 2013 draws near.
But before we go to that, we certainly have to look back to Star Creation 2012 for it was one resounding moment, at least for me, when Thai menswear designer Soravit Kaewkamon managed to clinch the winning title, alongside the other two winners: Ko YoungJi from South Korea, as well as Roderic Wong from China.
Why, you may ask. Well, it may not be obvious, but it is a fact that she is the first female menswear designer to bag the winning prize since Star Creation has started in 2010.
You see, since the history of time, people clings onto the belief that womenswear is a territory for designers from both genders, with the likes of Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Diane Von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs, to name a few. But for menswear, we have come to understand that it is a path that is largely trotted by male designers, as they have a better understanding of the men’s body.
Of course, over the years we have seen female designers who have come forth to design menswear. But only few managed to capture the beauty of masculinity. Most of them ended up creating garments that were too overly feminine, with large, overpowering prints or exaggerated silhouettes that only a woman can pull of, but not a man. And such is the constant debate that has popped out each time a collection by a female designer hits the runway at the men’s fashion weeks.
With that, this is reason why I thought that Soravit’s ‘Love and Friendship’ collection for the competition was a brilliant introduction into the menswear sphere, for she has managed to spark a balance between creativity and masculinity.
In her designs, Soravit focused strongly on the motif of the hornbill – a type of bird that is found largely in tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Melanasia, playing around with the bird’s iconic down-curved bill to create repetitive prints that symbolised love, friendship and nature in a closely-knitted community. These gave off a huge depth of graphical effect, making her pieces iconic, unique and dressier, yet not being pretentious at all.
And at the same time also, her collection is also made up of largely unisex, structured bold cuts that could be considered as ‘androgynous and masculine’ defined the collection, proving that women can too design menswear that men are willing to wear and come to love.
Since then, she has worked as an intern with FJ Benjamin since August 2012, designing clothes for Raoul’s menswear line and churning out dapper and tailored pieces for the modern man whilst preparing for the launch of her capsule collection, which will be presented at the Audi Fashion Festival 2013’s runway stage this May.
And to find out more about that, we have managed to catch up with Soravit herself, to talk more about her journey so far since her win, who are some of her design inspirations as well as more on her next move, all in our interview with her:
Describe your journey so far since winning the Star Creation 2012?
SORAVIT: “I never imagined myself winning a regional fashion design competition like Audi Star Creation and being able to spend a year in Singapore learning the tools of the trade, so I feel very lucky to be here. I am experiencing how fast-paced the fashion industry is and, while it can be overwhelming, I realise why it is the path I chose.
Since joining the F J Benjamin team in August 2012, I have had the chance to work on both the 2013 Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections for RAOUL’s menswear. The Spring/Summer collection was launched internationally and locally in February this year. I am also involved in a womenswear project for RAOUL, more details for which will be revealed at a later date. As a design assistant on both the menswear and womenswear teams, I have acquired a diverse range of technical skills. Admittedly, the workload is heavy but I am quite happy to learn as much as I can while I am in Singapore because not everyone gets a chance like this.
Since the start of the year, I have also been readying my capsule collection, which will be launched at the Audi Fashion Festival’s Audi Star Creation Capsule Showcase on May 17. So I have been quite busy!”
What are some of the thoughts that went through your mind back then when the host had announced that you are the winner of the competition? And how do you feel about it right now?
SORAVIT: “When I heard my name announced as an Audi Star Creation winner, I was beside myself with joy and relief. We had just two months to produce our collections and so it was a mad rush to prepare for the final showdown. I was really quite nervous when I presented my collection to the judges. It was extremely gratifying seeing my collection going down the runway and realising that every pair of eyes in the tent was on the pieces I had designed. The atmosphere was electrifying. I was quite exhausted by the time it was over, but winning made it all worthwhile. I look back on that week with fondness and will never forget the experience.”
As part of your winning prize, you have clinched the opportunity to work as an intern with leading retailer F J Benjamin. What are some of the most valuable experiences you have had with the company so far?
SORAVIT: “I am now halfway through my internship with F J Benjamin, and have been exposed to so many parts of the fashion business, from designing and sourcing, to costing and manufacturing.
What I found most valuable is being exposed to the business side of things, from containing manufacturing costs, profits and loss. It has been eye opening seeing these things being discussed and put into practice. How do you strategize the launch of a new collection, for instance, and monitor consumer trends. Understanding how to do business is an integral part of any organisation’s success, but it’s not something you are really going to learn in fashion school. I know better now how a fashion label works as a whole.”
Amongst the three winners of Star Creation 2013, you are the only menswear designer with clothes that can even be unisex. How do you think your capsule collection will stand out on the runway?
SORAVIT: “My capsule collection builds on the Love and Friendship collection I presented at Audi Star Creation last year. However, this time, I am not putting forward menswear, but will focus on womenswear. I have introduced bolder prints and a wider variety of colours. Last year’s collection was also somewhat androgynous, so you may see some designs that are slightly familiar.”
In your collection last year, you have made use of embroidery details to create the hornbill motif in your clothes. What are some hints on what we would see in this year’s capsule collection of yours?
SORAVIT: “Just like last year, the capsule collection will feature defined cuts and strong structure on woven fabric and leather. I will also be incorporating bolder digital prints and more intricate laser-cut details. As this is a womenswear collection, you can also expect more feminine shapes, including my take on the peplum.”
Which designer(s) influence you the most and why?
SORAVIT: “I particularly like Miuccia Prada and Riccardo Tisci for their bold designs and prints. Each season, they never fail to impress with their fresh prints for Prada and Givenchy respectively. As a fashion designer, I have a deep interest in prints and pattern making and hope to make it a signature of my own label.”
After your presentation at Audi Fashion Festival this May 2013, what are some of the possible things you would do eg. start your own label?
SORAVIT: “After of my internship with F J Benjamin is complete, I hope to travel to other countries and gain even more experience working in the fashion industry while learning more about the fashion histories of each region. I also hope to start my own label in Thailand in the near future.”
Would you base yourself in Thailand or Singapore, and why?
SORAVIT: ” Much as I like Singapore, I would base myself in Thailand because it is a more familiar environment to me. It would make setting up the business less difficult. Admittedly, I would also have easier access to resources and save on production costs in Thailand.
One day, perhaps, I can bring my label back to Singapore.”
What kind of advice would you give to the finalists for Star Creation 2013?
SORAVIT: “Stay true to yourself. Designing products that most accurately reflect your identity does play a big part in your ultimate success as a fashion designer.”
There you go! Much thanks to Soravit for the wonderful interview.
Stay tuned as we bring you more news that lead up to the final showdown of the Star Creation 2013!