As part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF), State of Fashion is a seminar series designed for an intimate audience to hear designers talk about their work personally, and get a glimpse behind the scenes.
This morning we arrived at the Royal Exhibition Building (REB) to be shown to a beautifully set up room for Phillip Boon (celebrity stylist who has worked with Jerry Hall and as a judge on Australia’s Next Top Model) to chat with emerging designers Vincent Li and Erik-Yvon.
Vincent is a menswear designer, originally from Shanghai and now based in Melbourne. Only since he arrived in Australia did he start to think about his heritage, which now influences his work greatly – it’s all about the contrast, using colour and texture, but ensuring there is a balance.
He explains: “I always love colour, but it doesn’t have to be in your face. I try to encourage people to be more adventurous about trying something different.”
In a city where the fashion pack loves black, he does indeed find a balance; his digital grey and white prints (hauntingly beautiful) are wearable, an easy way to introduce colour, while his textured tops in rich shades of paprika, ochre and navy blue create a patchwork effect bring an element of interest. All of his designs are created and manufactured in Melbourne.
“I think Melbourne has quite a long history of manufacturers and textiles. As an emerging designer – when you’re starting small – it’s easier. The design and production, everything is based in Melbourne, so it’s much easier for me.”
Another emerging talent, Erik-Yvon, agrees that Melbourne is a special place to be a young designer. He said of his label of the same name: “We love our prints and regularly collaborate with visual artists in Melbourne.
“I always try and find new artists to work with it allows me to have a broader aesthetic. It gives me another personality for my design and allows me to grow.”
Hailing from Mauritius, Erik moved to Melbourne ten years ago. Growing up, he was always drawing, using bold colours, which are evident in his gender neutral designs, particularly his signature ‘Nuc’ print. Being in Melbourne, the music and fashion scenes inspired him greatly, and so he set up his label.
“There’s always a buzz leaning towards the festivals, and I loved being able to dress up for the cultural events in the city. Soon I wanted to create my own designs, wear them myself.”
Both Vincent and Erik talked fondly of their experience so far as designers, with Erik noting good support from the government in terms of business planning. Both spoke with warmth, explaining that there is more to designing than just making clothes, that it’s a collaborative process.
Vincent said: “These projects bring the life and soul to the brand. I don’t know if I’d have that somewhere else.”
Erik agrees: “It’s important to recognise how important it is to support your own community. One garment takes more than one person. The whole community is in Erik-Yvon.”
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I’m Wearing: jeans, Ralph Lauren; shirt, Zara; sunglasses, Dolce & Gabbana; shoes, Debenhams; necklaces, Azuni and Alex Monroe; bag, Radley.
Images: Kris Miller