London is an
incredible source of inspiration. I expected Paris to be a huge
trendsetter, but the truth is that I havenít seen any cool street
style over there
TOP: Last to leave
class that evening: Alice Coral at Central St Martins. ABOVE:
Alice preparing a garment for her final show in June.
ARRANGED to meet designer Alice Coral at her local coffee
shop, Café Brera, situated by the entrance to the Four Seasons
Hotel in Canary Wharf overlooking the River Thames. She had
taken time out her busy schedule preparing for her final show at
Central St Martinís this June. Once the lattes arrived we began.
Christopher Whitfield: You studied law in Brazil before
moving to England. What prompted the leap from law to fashion?
Alice Coral: I always wanted to be a fashion designer,
but it wasnít available in my city at the time, so my second choice
was law. It was a bit disappointing, but I finished the five years
and got a diploma. Immediately after graduation, I took off to Europe
because thatís where I wanted to be, first Italy for six months
and then London. Once here, I had a sudden urge to follow my dream.
CW: After Brazil, how did you find adapting to life in cosmopolitan
AC: Quite easy, as I lived in a big city back in Brazil.
The difference is that London oozes history and it is so well preserved.
Its architecture and style are totally different from what I grew
up used to. It fascinates me.
CW: Central St Martinís is notoriously difficult to get
into and has been the starting point for many of the fashion industryís biggest
and brightest names. How have they nurtured your vision, the vision
that caused them to select you from the masses of applications?
AC: St Martinís emphasizes creative design. They allow you
to be totally conceptual or non-commercial and a bit mad. Because
my work is so inspired by fantasy I think I definitely thrived there.
CW: During your placement year you worked for Montana in
Paris, Spencer Hart in Savile Row and La Perla. Was it a productive
year for you? Did your placements have an impact on your work?
AC: Ideally I would have wanted to work with Galliano for
a year, but that didnít happen, so I tried to diversify to see how
different companies act in the fashion market-place. In that sense,
it was very interesting. I had a great time at Montana, where I
was allowed more creative input, and being in Paris was a bonus.
CW: Are there any particular designers you admire or have
influenced your vision in any way?
AC: I am a big admirer of John Galliano. I relate to him
because of his ability to create a world of fantasy, a concept rather
than only clothes. He puts up a magical show and heís influenced
me all the way.
CW: Images of strong, independent women feature prominently
in your designs. How do men fare in your world? Will we see you
branch into a menswear collection?
AC: I am crazy about menís shirts and fabrics. I actually
pay a lot of the attention on what City guys wear. Fine tailoring
is a dying craft, unfortunately, and I feel really sorry for it.
I have considered menswear. I would like to work with bespoke garments:
there is always space in the market for luxury apparel.
CW: Do you have any sponsorship, was it hard to obtain and,
if so, in what ways has it helped you with creating your final collection?
AC: Sponsorship is definitely hard to come by nowadays.
I have tried many companies but young designers are pretty much
left to their own means. Financing four years at university plus
a full final collection is very expensive. I am still searching
for financial help. Lucire has kindly offered to sponsor
me with media coverage, and itís important to get people to know
about what we are doing.
CW: Where do you go or how do you seek inspiration
for your designs? Is it possible to be truly original anymore?
AC: I look all around me at all times, Apparently, I am fascinated
by strangeness and the bizarre, as quoted by my tutor Janet Lance-Hughes.
I admit I find beauty in very ugly things, like dark alleys and
derelict buildingsóthey are like gothic fairy tales for me; I like
to find cartoonish images in an urban environment. However, my biggest
passion is Japonism. Being Brazilian also makes colour very important
to me. I think that being able to blend all aspects of life around
you is what makes great clothes, like D&G
do so well with Sicily.
CW: Is London the fashion capital of the world, as most
of the cutting-edge designers seem to blossom from here?
AC: Yes, London is an incredible source of inspiration. People
have such a good dress sense here and itís so multicultural, you
get styles from all over the world. Itís fascinating. I expected
Paris to be a huge trendsetter, but the truth is that I havenít
seen any cool street style over there.
CW: Where do you see yourself in 10 yearsí time?
AC: What I would really love to see is people all over the
world wearing my designs.
Alice still seeks additional sponsorship to help with her graduation show. If you can assist, please email her care of our feedback
form and well connect you.