Last week, we spoke to edgy and unconventional Sudanese designer OMER ASIM about his first collection and the inspirations behind it. This is the designer that sent a dead chicken instead of a regular invite to the editors of magazines like British Vogue and i-D.
This week, he speaks to us about his experience at London Fashion Week and also what to expect in the future.
When you showed at On/Off, you did a film. What do you think is the link between fashion and film?
As a matter of fact, the film project didn’t complete as my budget for the season ran out, but it was shot. The footage might surface at some point in the future, you never know! However, I think some designer’s work, and I count myself among them, can only be fully appreciated and captured in the moving image. Still images mute subtle perspectives and movements in garments. Photography can sometimes reduce the crispness of garments into flat staleness. I’m obsessed with pressing my garments before and after shoots, I feel like I need to help the photographic camera capture the truth of the garment!
For your last collection, you used carcasses and dead chicken. Are you pleased with the results of your controversial idea for your last collection?
I got a lot of stick for it and some people pigeon holed me into a typecast designer, they were quite surprised with my following collection although the concept was still embodied within the essence of the garments – the cut and making. But all the people I was aiming the collection and concept at, appreciated it for what it is and for the concept behind it. Yes, I am very pleased I got it out of my system and I still stand by what I did for that collection.
Tell us about your experience about being a part of London Fashion Week. What did you do?
It was nerve-racking to say the least! Partly because of my bad timing, but mainly because I didn’t have anyone to help me with making the collection, money was tight and soon as I finished a piece in the collection I would hate it for its flaws and that would add more pressure. The funniest part, which wasn’t funny at the time, was the commissioning of the uncanny resin chicken. Thankfully, a friend came to the rescue 10 days before fashion week, which was when I decided to go ahead with commissioning 10 resin chicken. I sent her to the remotest markets in London looking for feathered chicken that still have their heads and claws on. She was suspected for practicing Voodoo! Then she had to deal with the artist who cast the chicken mold and couldn’t understand what was going on.
What were people’s responses to your showing at LFW?
Thankfully, it was positive on the whole. I didn’t show the whole collection then – only five pieces – one of which was pivotal to the whole collection. It had the chicken print. People loved the print thinking it was flowers!
Who/what were your biggest supporters for LFW?
Claire Ginzler from On/Off was very supportive. She squeezed me into a small space at the last minute knowing I had no budget as such for an exhibition space.
Your last collection was inspired by Kevin Parker’s controversial photograph. What inspired this collection?
This collection started with a scan of a baby in the womb, it wasn’t planned.
What is your relationship with Blow PR and On/Off like?
Blow has been very supportive from the beginning. They accepted to work with me on the strength of a few pieces from my first collection, before the full collection was ready. They have a division, Blow Presents…. that works with smaller emerging designers, I suppose they have been around long enough to realize how difficult it is for start-ups. Unless someone gives us a leg-up and believes in us, it will just not happen for designers like me. The same goes for On/Off, but I think I scared them off with the chicken concept the first time round!
We hear you’re setting up your own pop-up shop with a couple of designers. Tell us more about that.
Unfortunately, it is not going to happen. I had my eye on a space in a residential building and just when I started getting the ball rolling, a burglar decided to pay the building a visit! Of course that ruled out any possibility of getting permission to use the space. Unfortunately, when you are a young designer in my position you have to come up with 20 ideas each season, fate will strike 19 and one might get a chance!
I never sketch. I’m rubbish at it anyway. I normally start with one piece, either draping or conceptualizing it on the pattern. That one piece usually triggers a lot of ideas. I edit many of them out as I go along. For every piece in the collection, I’d make around 3 pieces. The better pieces usually come towards the very end. I panic and stress a lot in between!
What is a typical day like for you?
My days are rarely typical, I’m still trying to set up a proper studio and meantime I’m doing whatever it takes to get the collection done. It’s not pleasant! Towards the last week before fashion week it is usually sitting on the sewing machine 24/7.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Smaller collections made with a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears – literally!
Any advice for aspiring designers?
It’s a dog’s life unless you have a strong financial backbone and we don’t need yet ‘another’ dress.
Written by Joyce See
Images courtesy of Omer AsimShare