Photographer: Kirill Kuletski http://kuletski.com/
Tell us about your background and how did you get into Central Saint Martins?
My father is Greek, and my mother is Jordanian. I was born in Greece but raised in Jordan. I speak English and Arabic, but no Greek, shamefully, since I never properly lived there. I have always been creatively inclined, drawing and painting ever since I can remember. For a few years my sister and I were sent to a French school, and we didn’t speak French. I remember feeling very shy in all the lessons and only feeling confident in an art class. This theme continued when we were transferred to an Arabic school, where, again, our Arabic was very weak. For years my report card had all D’s except for art and English! My mother used to paint, so we were always doing creative stuff. And then when I was 16, I came to London to do one of those 2 week short courses, and I knew Central Saint Martins was for me. I always hated being told what to do, and the laisser faire attitude of CSM really suited me. I came to the Foundation, wanting to do sculpture, but then, I realised I was too shallow for Fine Art, so it had to be fashion!
Describe these past few years at CSM? And how was your final year?
It was just so cool. CSM is great, not so much because of what it teaches you, but because of the people it brings together. So, its paramount that one fully integrates into the CSM culture because thats where the real value is. Final year makes you realise that everything you do is cumulative, and eventually, everything comes together. Everything you learnt, everything you didn’t learn, everyone you spoke to, everywhere you went, even all the random images you have in your subconscious – it all comes out. Also, you are the most stressed you’ve ever been, but a good stress, the energising kind.
Please tell us about your final collection.
I was thinking about a bored man in an office, wishing he was someplace else. So, that was the contrast I was working with – using the fabrics as metaphors for the two moods: boring business life (suit fabrics) and better life (colours). Eventually it all developed, so that the embroidery connected the two together. The trouser suit anchored my shapes. It sounds fancy, but really, you kind of just keep doing the things you like. At some point you get a really clear sense of what your’e trying to achieve, all your decisions, big and small, are catering and responding to that particular feeling. And throughout the year I was really feeling suits. I tried adding dresses, but it felt so wrong, maybe because I wore trousers everyday and was not feeling girly or feminine. I was working hard, so I was dressing more like a boy because it was practical. That could explain why I looked at menswear so much. Doing the embroidery was a test in colour matching – I had no time to do samples, so I just did it. So, I’d do one row of eggshell, then think ‘ok, it needs 2 more rows of that then, a white white. After white white, I’ll feel pink. Then red.’ If I added a colour I didn’t like, it meant 45 minutes of unpicking – and I did not have 45 minutes! In the end, the embroidery turned out to be exactly what I set out to achieve.
What were the doubts during the whole process?
Oh my god, yes. At some points you dont even know what’s good or bad. You cant tell if it’s new or old, pretty or ugly, modern or shit. You really cant! But ya, obviously, I had doubts, but thats part of the challenge. Overcoming them and just carrying on is the most useful thing you learn! You really only move on by believing in your ideas.
What would you advice to future final years?
First year: get really good at research and sketchbook presentation. Be as brave as possible and try shit out. And don’t take it too seriously, make friends, go out. Oh, and maintain a good rep with the tutors – they’re watching you!
Second year: GET SKILLS! patterncutting, adobe, printing, sewing, drawing, whatever!
Third: absorb everything, ask questions, take initiative, be chic and professional and you’ll be fine.
Final: Believe in yourself, trust yourself, confidence and positive energy – there’s no faking it.
What did it feel like during the final show?
So good and so quick!
What is on your playlist?
My ipod was my best friend during final. A$AP, Grimes, Austra, Modeselektor, Phaleah, Odd Future, Olafur Arnalds and lots of 90′s nostalgia. Also, Cher, Celine D and Mariah are very good to listen to when staying up all night.
What is instore for the future?
I want to be productive and creative. I have some ideas, so we’ll see.
When you look back at yourself on the first year, what would you advice to yourself now?
‘Take more pictures you idiot; your’e gonna forget all of this!’
Did you do a sandwich year?
I did Marchesa in New York for like 8 months and that was incredible. I love embroidery, so it was perfect! After that, I felt like I really wanted to learn more skills, so I packed up and moved to Paris for 3 months to learn embroidery at Ecole Lesage. It was all couture hand embroidery, so it was intense. Paris was fun, but not very practical to live, there are no taxis! Anyway, and then I went back to Jordan where I worked at this place that does the bespoke embroidery gowns for the Queen. There, I learnt free-hand machine embroidery for another 3 months. Looking back, its funny how it all worked out, in the end my collection was all free hand machine embroidery that I did myself, so that was cool.
I think the sandwich year is key in a fashion degree because you learn how to hustle. You can’t get an internship, find an apartment, figure out your way in a foreign city, and survive if you’re not a hustler!
In three words, how would you describe your whole CSM experience?
Fun, Hectic, Free.