Amsterdam-based fashion designer STEFAN VELLA shares with us the lookbook for his graduate collection, Golden Cage, captured by photographer ARMANDO BRANCO. We sit down for an exclusive interview with the promising designer to discuss his inspirations, aesthetics, personal style, as well as his future plans.
Read the interview and discover the collection after the jump:
When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
In my late teenage years I started rebelling against my very conservative upbringing through my clothes. I used to paint and customise my T shirts and jeans, all in the name of looking different than everyone else. Just before starting my degree in fashion I ended up working in an office and it almost drove me insane. I realized that I can’t make a living out of something I don’t enjoy doing and for the first time I started considering fashion design as a proper career.
Which designer inspired you to pursue this career?
I started being interested in fashion during Galliano’s heydays for Christian Dior in the mid 2000s and I remember eagerly waiting for the photos to be published online. However Alexander McQueen is certainly the designer that really made me interested in the profession, craft and immense creativity of a fashion designer. I do however also have to thank my bestie from my teens @churpina for sparking my love for fashion in the first place.
Which materials do you work with and why do you prefer them?
Fabric translates to movement and tactility and having fabric that moves or feels different to how you would expect is something that interests me and explains my obsession with bonded or coated fabrics. I am also a big fan of transparency, especially the light play through several layers of it and its ability to manipulate but still reveal the body underneath.
Can you share with our readers something about your graduate collection?
I named this collection “Golden Cage” and it is an exploration of the ambiguities of human life in a digital age, the good and bad of being dependent on technology as much as we are today. I asked myself if we have become hyper humans or subhumans. I didn’t want this collection to be a projection of an opinion but rather to spark intrigue and make the viewer ask himself these questions.
How does your aesthetic reflect your personal style?
This summer I will be bidding farewell to my twenties and at this point I can look back and see my style change according to what my interests would be at the time or what my state of being is. Nowadays I have a more understated but definitely sharper style, or as I like to call it “quietly bold” and it is something that is highlighted in my collections too. Throughout my fashion education, I also became increasingly interested in the Japanese concept of “Ma”, whereby the negative space is just as important as the positive. This lends itself to my interest in exaggerated volumes and drapes.
How does your approach differ when designing menswear compared to womenswear?
Gender is a hot topic that I always address in my work. The approach does not differ as I design gender neutral garments. Nowadays we acknowledge that gender is not black or white, that instead there are a hundred shades of grey. I want my designs to adapt to the wearer and not impose any preconceived notion of gender.
What kind of men and women do you have in mind when designing? How do you wish for them to feel in your clothes?
When I design I tend to focus on my set values. I love for my clothes to express a sense of humility and vulnerability but still be bold and strong and I hope that my wearer feels these qualities too.
What is the main philosophy behind your work?
I consider myself an observer. Using a complex yet simple equation of what I see around me and what I feel inside, I am able to explore more of myself, the world around me and how I feel about it. My collections are an output of these explorations of mine, like words to my stories. The cut of a garment becomes the tactile translation of a feeling, the colour expresses mood and verve whilst transparencies, layering and print become symbols by which I turn the intangible into the tangible.
Where do you see yourself going in the future?
After years of exploring and learning I now feel I am in a good place to start a career doing what I love most. I see myself working in a label that shares my same vision and where I can keep on learning and growing. This prospect fills me with equal amounts of excitement and nerves.
I guess there is only one why to find out what the view is from the top of a mountain.
DESIGN by STEFAN VELLA
assist. styling by JACKO SCHOUTEN
PHOTOGRAPHY by ARMANDO BRANCO
MUAH by ARIANA CAMILLERI
MODELS Sofie at LINDA MODELS + Davey at FIC MODEL MNGMT
Interview by KATARINA DJORIC