22 Feb 2013

talking industry [1]

"Fashion is no longer a love affair, it's becoming a string of one night stands"

Earlier this month, Manchester Metropolitan University played host to the 'Global Futures' conference; a series of talks lead by internationally renowned individuals in fashion, as well as industry representatives. With each one unique but all as equally inspiring, we were given the opportunity of attending not one but four discussions.To us fashion is more than just the 'outfit of the day'. It's about the passion, the obsession, the business and everything else that goes with it; a feeling that was mutually felt by everyone after an hour spent listening to each speaker. 

For something a little different and in two parts; we give you an insight into the creative minds of John Walford, Adrien Parry Roberts, Thomas Brigger & Lanny Israel, four individuals who express their devotion, successions & current affairs within their own specialized role in the fashion industry.

Dressed in a modish fashion and stood with a demeanour of sophisticated suavity; John Walford was the first speaker of the day. Co-founder of graduate fashion week, Walford titles his speech 'the joys & challenges of working in fashion events abroad' or in other words the hardships of organising a fashion show when not one person speaks 'anglais'. 

Casually dropping names, John reveals that his first show was one of Vivienne Westwood's, who he now works closely alongside. Confessing to working on the runway show that infamously saw the Naomi Campbell fall; he now spends the majority of his working time abroad, more so in China, where Chinese models are fast becoming the 'flavour of the month'. 

Suggesting that it's not all high fashion & glamour behind the set, he describes his greatest ally as the 'iPad' when it comes to conquering language barriers. With fashion itself an international language; the simple use of arrows and '?' get John what he wants from his shows. Walford provides the whole package; from turning locations into runways to supplying the right models, he says his ultimate hate is the "white catwalk" and he believes at the moment its "Korea who are producing the best in Menswear". 

From a business perspective, John stresses that his job presents its challenges when working outside of the UK. Unbelievably there's no refined means of organisation abroad; China have virtually no PR source, so the majority of the time the whole process has to start from scratch with just pure government funding. We're pretty sure we had to excuse John's 'French' when he brought this up.

It's bemusing to think that this man, chatting away in front of us, rubs shoulders with the likes of Westwood and sets the stage for some of the most prestigious shows in the world. 

Svelte like in appearance, Thomas Brigger had an air of confidence when addressing the room. Dressed in one of his own bespoke suits, complete with an oversized safety pin attached to his tie, he began by telling us that fashion is his 'obsession' which in turn lead to his 'business'. That 'business' just so happening to be an extremely successful contemporary menswear brand.

Admitting to buying his first Vogue at the age of 12, Brigger gave the 'nutshell' version of his fashion infatuated lifestyle. Obsessed with using the word obsessed; he says how he began drawing his own collections at an early age, even providing the original images, describing himself as a "skater boy drawing suits". From the Swiss countryside to 90's MTV to beatniks and Jil Sander, Thomas recited every detail of his stylish youth; we of course hung onto every word.

A graduate of the Istituto Marangoni in Milan; Thomas has worked closely with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Sonia Rykiel. He describes his then working life as 'missing substance', in his words "producing products with no passion". So, in between a few career changes and divulging in the Parisian night life, Thomas finally put his obsession with fashion to practice and founded 'Proportio'. If we ever pictured the moment we would meet a man so passionate about creativity & fashion this was definitely it.

Suggesting that fashion is a lifestyle and not a product; Thomas stresses his most important rule when it comes to his work ethic, "don't do it because you want to make money, do it to make a change", this we agreed with completely. Brigger knows his customer inside and out and caters to their every need. Sounding like every well dressed man's dream, 'Proportio' rides on the success of Thomas and his attention to detail. 

That hour went by far too quickly for our liking; with Thomas finally rounding up by determining the highlight of his career as when he "sees strangers wearing his collections". When asked if "his house set fire which item would he save?" he eventually replied "a prototype suit I made at D&G, it doesn't fit and it's falling to pieces but it has nostalgia."

If you've made it this far down the page then clearly we're doing something right; keep your eyes peeled for when we introduce to you Adrien & Lanny.