Team LBD meets Jasper Garvida
Designer Jasper Garvida is renowned for his innovative cutting, modern techniques and a certain penchant for embellishment; but above all he dresses women for their shape, all things which make his timeless designs the perfect fit for the vibrant, modern woman.
He rose to fame in 2008 after dazzling the judges on Project Catwalk with his exceptional workmanship and attention to detail, before launching his own collection two years later.
Even before this TV debut he was destined for greatness, noted after his graduate show as "one of the young designers to watch out for' by ID Magazine. Now with his designs worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Cheryl Cole and Jamie Winstone, Garvida's name is firmly engraved in fashion history.
We caught up with Japser at his East London studio, where he spoke to us about hanging out with designer darlings Gareth Pugh and Christopher Cane, how he'd love to dress Kate Middleton, and why your neckline should have a 17cm drop exactly for best effect!
Where did it all start?
I grew up in the Phillipines in a large family full of academics. Among my three brothers and three sisters there are lawyers, medics, computer analysts, a linguist who can speak and write seven languages ‚Ç¨≈ì and me! I knew from a young age that art was my passion but I never really thought it could become a proper paid job. When I was nineteen, I was flipping through Vogue magazine and there was an article on Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, who both studied at Central St Martins College of Art and Design. I said that is where I'm going! I quickly fixed up my portfolio and sent it to them. Three weeks later, I flew into London and have never looked back.
How was studying at Central Saint Martins (CSM)?
For me, it was exciting because I was surrounded by really talented people and you feed off everyone's creativity. I was exposed to this world of arts and fashion ‚Ç¨≈ì it was everything I'd ever dreamed of. I realised that, gosh, I am quite lucky to be doing this, but it also gave me determination and focus to realise what I wanted to do and follow through my ambitions.
Did you study with any of the famous designers of today?
I partied with Gareth Pugh all through college. Christopher Kane and I did our BA together and he then continued to study to do a masters, when I began working. Corrie Neilson (who won Fashion Fringe in 2010) was another CSM friend.
Do you still see them all now?
Yes, occasionally I do. Gareth is based in Paris but when he is in London we hook up. If there is a fashion party then he invites me along. I don't see so much of Christopher but I do speak to Corrie from time to time. We are all different but are all in a similar situation of trying to build our careers. It is hard work and I know for sure that they are as hard working as me.
So how did you go from CSM graduate to renowned designer?
My first job was working for Japanese designer Michiko Koshino. I was appointed head designer as soon as I'd graduated. I designed for them for three seasons, whilst at the same time creating my own collection on the side, showing it in small venues such as during Alternative Fashion Week. I constantly created and thought about what my future was going to be like. To be honest I didn't have the confidence in the beginning to set up my own label. I have always seen myself as a shy person and quite scared in terms of the business side of fashion, so that held me back. My strategy was to learn as much as I could. After Michiko Koshino, I worked on the high street, designing for everyone from Evans to Miss Selfridge, Wallis to Topshop. I then did Project Catwalk in 2008, which gave me the platform I needed to create my own ready-to-wear label. Looking back, working on the high street was tremendous training. I learnt how to dress the average woman and how to flatter her body using my skills and design talent. For example, I found that a neckline of seventeen centimetres from the base of the collarbones is the most effective cut to make a garment look sexy.
That's fascinating! Why seventeen centimetres?
Seventeen centimetres is the perfect number for revealing a glimpse of the cleavage, without exposing too much.
Can you give us a few other tips on how to look fabulous?
Choose the length of your dress depending on the shape of your legs. If you have nice shapely calves, you can wear above the knee or just on the knee. This goes for any size. But if you have quite straight legs and no shape then I suggest adding a bit of length. It is all about balancing your body shape. If you have wide hips, wear a boat neck to widen your top half. If you have narrow shoulders and bigger hips then I would put a wider shoulder to balance you out. I think a woman must look at herself and really think about her body shape. There are always plenty of clothes she'll look amazing in ‚Ç¨≈ì she just needs to find the right shape for her. Once you've found this shape through trial and error, stick to it and make it your style.
Tell us about your dresses on Little Black Dress.
They were inspired by a painting by the artist Kupka in the Pompidou Centre in Paris. With this collection in particular, I wanted to bring out the inner strength of the woman, so I mixed soft fabrics with hard finishes such as beading. I was designing it for a woman who is not afraid to be seen. They are very glamorous, they are wow pieces.
What kind of women do you envisage your clothes being worn by?
The Jasper Garvida woman is, for me, always on the move. She moves in time, she moves forward and she moves with passion. She is not concerned with trends but she looks for style, comfort and being different. She needs to stand out among many people; she goes to parties and she works but is never afraid to be a woman, and therefore the clothes are feminine. My signature is feminine clothing for a woman who is assured of how she looks and how she moves and how she talks.
Where do you see women wearing your dresses?
It depends how they are styled. The dresses could be worn to work or out in the evening. However, I was surprised because I went to a show at the London College of Fashion and a woman was wearing my dress in the front row. She was the editor of a magazine. I was like, oh, so that is actually the person I am dressing, someone who is aware of fashion and likes new things.
What do you think about the little black dress?
People say that the little black dress was invented by Coco Chanel, and I am a great admirer of Coco Chanel ‚Ç¨≈ì she is one of my fashion heroes. As a man I try to understand women in general, how they think and what their needs are. My job as a designer is to reveal their inner strength and attractiveness through my clothing. I think that the power of simplicity, through black, white and neutral colours, really shows off the woman and who she is. The little black dress is a classic and will never go out of fashion. It is the kind of garment I like to design; something that is memorable not just for how it looks but how it reveals you as a person. The little black dress always brings out the best of you.
You have worked with lots of celebrities, from Liz Hurley and Sophie Dahl to Sophie Ellis Bextor to name just a few. Who has been your favourite?
There are lots of them and I don't like to say! Recently we sent samples to Britney Spears and Florence and the Machine. I do adore Lady Shakira Caine (Sir Michael Caine's wife). She is very private but we have a laugh every time we do fittings.
Is there anyone you would love to wear your designs?
I would like to dress Kate Middleton; she is such a style icon. I love her simplicity. I think no matter what she wears with that smile, it just makes you go "aww'. She is like the girl next door and a good example for many young girls today, and how they should act and look.
Describe a day in the life of Jasper Garvida.
I have a very regular lifestyle! I always wake up at six thirty in the morning no matter which day of the week it is. I don't use an alarm clock and I go to bed about eleven. At work, I have a to-do list that is different every day. It could be managing, sewing, pattern-making, all sorts of things. Today I'm working on some sketches of uniforms for the Baselworld jewellery and watches tradeshow in Switzerland. I strive for balance in my life; it is very important so I can function the next day and give the best of me. I tend not to do much outside of work because I'm so busy during the day. So I try to relax and eat well. I stay at home and enjoy my family and dog.
Tell us about you dog
He is a King Charles spaniel called Bo and is just like a human being. He sits with me on the couch watching TV at the weekend! I don't bring him to work with me because he doesn't like the hard-wood floor as he tends to slide.
How big is your team?
It depends per season. I have an army of interns and we have press people as well and sometimes they have their assistants. But on a normal day there are about fifteen of us. Our studio is in east London. It's a bit of trek from Notting Hill but when I saw the huge windows I fell in love with the space.
What are your future plans?
I'm planning to do a diffusion line that would be more affordable. It will be mass produced but you will still have the element of Jasper Garvida style and design. As soon as I have time I must find a manufacturer.
So are all your dresses currently produced here?
Yes, and I enjoy championing Britain. The market is a very difficult place at the moment and a lot of designers are struggling on the pricing of the garments, but luckily the most expensive piece in my Spring/Summer collection is √É‚Äö¬£1000 (for the beaded pieces) whilst the lowest is about √É‚Äö¬£380, which is still affordable for a designer dress.
Sum up your brand in three words.
Feminine, classic and chic. Shop glamorous dresses