Fashion is all about opposites. Think, perhaps, of the visual impact of a bold geometric print against pristine white fabric, or studded femme fatale stilettos balancing out the virginal innocence of a pale-hued lace frock. Preview Emerging Fashion Talent Awards 2012 designer Nina Gatan plays with the sensual restriction of a corset and the masculinity of a suit, creating a garment that tightropes between androgyny and seduction. Curious? We chat with the young designer about structure, technique, and tailoring.
What was the inspiration behind this suit dress?
"I’ve always been fascinated with mixing polar opposites, like, say, the sensual restriction of a corset and the masculinity of a suit. I also wanted to come up with a design that is adjustable at the waist without using jersey. Plus, it’s practical and versatile. You can use it for a long time."
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PEFTA designer Nina Gatan creates a sultry alternative to the classic skirt suit: the suit dress.
Did it take long for it to materialize?
"The process was more of an experiment for me to see how one tailored dress can fit the different phases of a woman’s body. I still want to experiment more with the lapel by using the trompe l’oeil pattern used in bespoke tailoring. There are a lot of possibilities with a wraparound blazer dress, much like creating LBDs with different techniques. I can’t say my final dress has materialized yet—it excites me when better ideas come to life, so it’s still an ongoing process."
How was it constructed?
"It’s adjustable like a wrap dress, but looks fitted like a corset. It’s supported by boning inside, and held [in place with an inner ribbon tied at] the waist. The double-breasted shawl collar is closed with snaps."
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The inner workings of Nina’s wraparound suit dress show clean construction and the possibilities for adjustment.
What type of woman do you think this dress appeals to?
"Definitely a woman who wants to exude sensuality and power at the same time. Having grown up in a military family with strong women contributes to my style aesthetic, and I want women to feel empowered when they wear my designs. Versatility is key—this dress can easily transition from boardroom meetings to cocktail events, depending on how it’s worn."
How do we purchase your clothing?
"My pieces are made to order through online inquiries, but I want to eventually make them available to the public in select shops. To see my lookbook, visit my page on Facebook, @ninagatan on Instagram, or email me at email@example.com."
*This article originally appeared in Preview's February 2016 issue.