It’s this piece of advice that fashion designer Geof Gonzales shares with contestants of Look of Style Awards 2012. He won this design competition last year with his edgy, sculptural, “salable” designs that came in unique fabrics.
“The judges are looking for someone who has the audacity to challenge what is ‘beautiful,’ and execute [their designs] with impeccable craftsmanship,” says the 24-year-old designer. “Surprise them.”
The annual design competition is sponsored by Look style magazine, Inquirer Lifestyle with the British Council.
Now in its third year, it is going nationwide, in search of the young designer whose design will win him a study grant at the prestigious Central Saint Martins Art and Design College in London, courtesy of the British Council.
As part of his prize, Gonzales was awarded an all-expense-paid study of Experimental Pattern Making at Central Saint Martins. He finished the course three months ago.
It was an opportunity “which any designer would die to experience,” says Gonzales.
“As a Filipino, it really dawned on me how far behind we are in terms of art appreciation and exposure to really diverse ideas,” he explains. “Also, people in London really expressed themselves through their outer shells, their clothes. There’s no ‘mahiya ka naman sa suot mo.’”
Aside from his exposure to a totally different fashion culture, Gonzales also learned how to “amp up” his work ethic. “Students (at CSM) are really disciplined and focused,” he says. “Concept is nothing without execution and craft.”
Gonzales first ventured into fashion design as a student at the University of the Philippines Diliman, taking up Visual Communication at the College of Fine Arts. With his classmates, he created designs for the now defunct I Love You store in Cubao X, a project he enjoyed immensely because of the artistic freedom.
“We used to reinvent vintage clothes,” recalls Gonzales.” I treated it as sculpting through fabric, which is basically draping. When it came to design, sky’s the limit.”
He was made head designer, and got to collaborate with local clothing brands Team Manila and Mental, and Singapore-based store Blackmarket.
One of the founders of I Love You store, Mimi Sanson, has had a big influence on Gonzales. “Our weekly fashion history class taught by Mimi was one of the best eye-openers for me,” he says. “Clothing was put in a social and cultural context.”
With such experience, the young designer is focusing on prenuptial styling services with his company, Rabbit Hole Creatives. He is also working on a new design collection, and hopes to have his own space for his atelier and store.
He returns to the runway of Look of Style Awards, the competition which gave him his lucky break. Gonzales will present a three-piece collection with this year’s finalists.
Gonzales says it’s a competition that “values originality and craftsmanship.”
“[Look of Style Awards] holds the designers’ welfare in high esteem. It’s not just for fame, but for really nurturing talent.”
For contest requirements and more information on this year’s Look of Style Awards, log on to www.facebook.com/lookmagazineph or follow www.twitter.com/lookmagazineph
For interested applicants from Cebu, Davao and Manila, send your resumé and sample works to firstname.lastname@example.org or Look Magazine office, 4/F, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Chino Roces Ave., corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City.