Intimate Stories of Secret & Material Worlds Colliding
Ryerson graduate Cristina Sabaiduc moved to London in 2010.
She feels right at home in the English capital, today a fully formed worldcity. Cristina has spent most of her life in Canada, but she was born in Romania where her family’s roots remain. A dual citizen, she perfectly balances old and new world. CRISTINA SABAIDUC, her eponymous label was launched with the SS12 season, her first collection presented in London during ‘Off-Schedule’ and supported by the British Fashion Council.
Cristina’s work explores and establishes new connections between garments and bodies. In each of her collections, unexpected juxtapositions invest dynamic dualities; they tell intimate stories of secret and material worlds colliding. Cristina is often driven by a love of innovation but her designs balance modern and classic. The powerful yet tranquil passion Cristina puts in her collections also translates into thought provoking presentations.
With her launching collection for SS12, Cristina explored ways to bridge fashion and sculpture. Its intense use of magnets allowed the draping of classic silhouettes in a multitude of fashions, providing almost limitless possibilities for individual styling.
Her AW12 collection, explored further the use of magnetic closures and versatile styling, establishing CRISTINA SABAIDUC’s aesthetic.
Featuring salts crystals grown on feathers, Cristina’s SS13 collection, offers stark tactile contrasts. Cristina collaborated with photographic artist Jo Holland to produce, this season’s exclusive prints. Together they created a range of delicate yet dynamic images by recording onto photographic paper crystallized feathers exposed to light and colour. The collection features winged sleeves, wrapped trousers and crystallized feather embellishment. The presentation of her collection was in collaboration with Cinematastic who produced a short 3D film screened at the Canon Cinema as part of the London Fashion Week Digital Schedule.
Cristina, in a few words, what is your label about?
My label focuses on versatile, conceptual, yet ultimately wearable pieces that combine feminine and innovative textiles. My work explores and records visual stories through prints, textures and cuts. This sense of evolving narrative is often built into garments that can be styled and worn in multiple fashions.
You graduated two years ago from Ryerson Fashion School. What made you decide to launch your own label with SS12?
Aah, this could be a short story. Where do I start? How long have you got?
Start at the beginning!
I entered my fashion course at Ryerson as a machinist. I did not think myself an artist; I was in fact slightly fearful of the notion. The university’s program focused on all the basics of fashion design, this approach to learning and designing quickly made me want to push the restrictions it imposed. Without even realizing it, I evolved into a texture and art based designer.
During my course, I worked every summer for a different type of label and in different fashion capitals: Toronto, New York and Paris. I interned with Carolina Herrera in New York and once graduated worked with Jeremy Laing who is based in Canada. I showcased two collections at a Toronto alternative arts festival where they were well received and produced press coverage in Canada.
Traveling back and forth between Europe and North America, I eventually chose to live and work in London. There is an openness and energy in London that seemed perfectly suited to what I wanted to do at the time: forward, conceptual, one off pieces.
As I started showcasing in art galleries and fairs, it dawned on me that I really did want to create an ideology, an approach to garment and therefore my own line. When women say they want to be wearing your clothes, well you just have to get cracking and make some.
It must have been, or maybe still is, a little daunting to do all this by yourself?
It is at times, but if you were to focus on that, you would never get anything done. Maintaining positive energy and directional thinking is my way of looking forward and I’m not so solo these days.
Can you explain your creative process?
I am inspired by the synergy of natural and industrial matter; by the way they may react and accommodate each other, often growing/changing/evolving together or alongside one another. This visual exploration transforms into experimentations with textiles, embellishment, print and finally colour. Once this is set, I start manipulating the fabrics in earnest with pattern cutting and draping, a process that I embark on very cautiously yet with an open mind. From there in a way, the collection develops itself and then it is time to focus on how to showcase it.
Who else is involved in your creative process? Do you do it all by yourself or do you seek collaborations?
This season’s print was developed with my new studio-mate, Jo Holland. We met while I was desperately looking for a studio back in January; I instantly fell in love with the space, Jo and I now work in. We both thought about collaborating; we just didn’t realize it would come so quickly. We speak in a similar visual language and crossing our mediums and disciplines is extremely exciting. This season, Amanda May and Cinematastic has played a huge role in the presentation of my collection, producing the film, lookbook and screening at London Fashion Week.
How important do you feel is collaborative work for a fashion designer? Do you have any advice on how to best approach it?
I think collaboration is crucial for most creative fields; it stimulates your own exploration and development. The discovery of someone else’s visual language and production processes can make you look at your own work differently. Fashion is cyclical; contrasting different approaches, materials and processes make it possible for new and exciting things to emerge.
Personally I would love to push my collaborations even further, to also include material collaboration with scientists. I strongly believe textile technology needs more attention and support to get ideas out of research and into production.
What advice would you give to those who want to launch their own fashion label?
The first steps are to work on ideas, build a philosophy and define your niche. Ask yourself why you want to start a label, who your customer is, and how you are going to be successful. You have to really live and believe those three answers, because if you do, the people around you will too. You also be very aware that although having an idea is great, production is key, both for the garments and their showcasing. Ideas come and go, what stays is your network: retailers, manufacturers, press, etc.
What qualities are required to be an independent designer?
Time management—a skill we creatives seem to lack. If you have trouble with it, as I do, find someone who can help you create a critical path. An outside perspective is so helpful; others may look at your overwhelming problem as a fun puzzle to solve!
Finally the ability to delegate is extremely important, I’m still learning to step away from tasks that others can do for me…
Oh—and humility; being grounded in such a fast-paced industry will keep you focused.
So what is next for you?
I am due in Bucharest to show the SS13 collection at Unveiled – an event to showcase emerging Romanian designers and supported by the British Embassy at the fabulous Iconic Class Studio. And of course the direction of the new season, AW13 this time, is always on my mind.
What do you feel is you biggest achievement to date?
Being here—in the present—and happy with the choices I’ve made thus far.