An anniversary is always a special cause for celebration, but the tenth edition of the Trieste-based ITS# competition also turned into a celebration of menswear designers. Among the most interesting fashion designers there were Royal College of Art MA graduate Fah Chakshuvej, recipient of the Martin Margiela Award, and American Kevin Kramp with a colourful collection of knits that won him the Modateca Award, established by historical Italian knitwear company Deanna.
A student of menswear designer Mason Jung (among the winners of the ITS#Eight competition) at London’s Royal College, Chakshuvej reinvented armours in her collection through clever pattern cutting and sharp tailoring. Kramp, who got his BA in Fashion Designer and Knitwear from Central St. Martins and recently exhibited some of his designs during the “Unravel” exhibition at Antwerp’s MoMu, was instead inspired in his creations by the people he met in his life.
Fah Chakshuvej, Martin Margiela Award
Dazed Digital: What inspired this collection?
Fah Chakshuvej: The collection is entitled “Amour Armour” and hints at the story that set the mood for the collection, a tale of an impossible love between a modern knight and a princess. The main shapes and silhouettes came indeed from the way armours were constructed and moulded into shape in the past without using seams. I tried to recreate the feminine shapes of armours so that they fitted modern men. At the time lace was also very popular so I made my own version of lace for men using latex and engraved details and complemented the designs with accessories in latex, fused leather and metal.
DD: Was it difficult to create the patterns for your designs?
Fah Chakshuvej: There was a lot of experimenting to do mainly because I developed my own fabric using two layers of wool with different qualities. I wanted the patterns to have very minimal seams but maximum shapes, so the internal parts were cut in a slightly different way from the external parts and then fused together with a technique I developed by myself. I had to go through a lot of calculations because the patterns had to be very accurate.
DD: How do you feel about this award?
Fah Chakshuvej: I felt very fortunate already at being one of the finalists. It has been a real privilege and I’ve been offered an amazing opportunity.
Kevin Kramp, Modateca Award
Dazed Digital: Can you tell us more about the people who inspired your collection?
Kevin Kramp: Human relationships are the most important things in our lives, this is why I decided to dedicate my collection to specific characters I met personally, people that I’ve only briefly met and beautiful strangers sitting across me on the bus to whom I never managed to introduce myself. My memories about them continues to live in my heart and brain to this day and when I created this collection I felt I really wanted to pay homage to them.
DD: In which way did you symbolise these characters’ multiculturalism in your designs and how can we reinvent modern knitwear?
Kevin Kramp: I symbolised it through the use of different colours, textures, patterns and yarns. There are so many ways we can reinvent knitwear in a contemporary way: in my opinion shape is very important and I really think that, for what regards men’s knits, strong visual shapes, colours and exaggerations are three vitally important points towards innovation.
DD: Your work has also been exhibited in museums, how do you feel at showcasing it now in this environment?
Kevin Kramp: It has been a real honour especially because this competition is not just about talent, but about high quality innovation. I was also very excited to actually getting to watch my own runway show for the first time, it was a real pleasure since I was finally able to see the audience’s reaction and that was really great.
ITS#Accessories: Laura Amstein, YKK Award
Dazed Digital: Your designs are made using a very traditional craft technique, can you tell us more about it?
Laura Amstein: I had a lot of wooden moulds made and I hand-moulded the leather. Interaction is very important in my products, so, while the shapes are very simple and linear, I also work with the body a lot and some of my bags can be worn for example on a hand. Innovation and surprise are key points in my designs: in some cases a bag has a pocket that can expand when you put things in it; in other cases the bag contracts when you pick it up. I’m also fascinated by the idea of a part of my design resting into the other, so for example a handle resting inset or a piece of hand luggage resting in the curve of a case.
DD: The piece you created for the YKK Award is rather sculptural, what inspired it?
Laura Amstein: Minimalism is my prerogative in all my designs and in this case I used the zips in a functional way rather than just in a decorative way, adding a secret handle on one side and zips that allow to open the bag completely. My next step now is developing my work and the next collection, so the money from this award will go towards that.