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Designer Spotlight: Kermit Tesoro

The radical young designer gives us not-so-simple basics for summer 2010.
Designer Spotlight: Kermit Tesoro The radical young designer gives us not-so-simple basics for summer 2010.


PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THIS COLLECTION.

The major thought was manifestly stimulated by the color palette of the military. The same material has been used all throughout, but the modification process was executed in a different method. That modification veers away from the commercial notion of a military look that is usually based on the costume and uniform of the army and military. The concentration here is not on the whole package of military. However, given the color palette, it nonetheless persuades the shape, proportion, geometry, and volume of the collection. And I must say it isn't a spring/summer look, maybe more of an outerwear, for practical reason's sake.

HOW IS IT LINKED TO YOUR PAST COLLECTIONS?

I varied the past collection's silhouettes and tapped the issue of the color black. The collection was an attempt to reevaluate the color from its legendary standard—it's always used to eliminate excess curves, and it's always been said that you can't go wrong with black. Upon having the given silhouette, I combined black with its secondary tone, which is gray, and some pieces were studded with sequins to show how the color recedes from other surfaces.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME A DESIGNER, AND HOW DID YOU START?

In hindsight, as an art student, I was just uttering my idiosyncrasy. Visual arts was primarily the thing I was doing then. I made this very personal thesis called Fiber Hypertrophy, [where] installation art meets body art. It was site-specific and [had] direct fabric contact weaving on both surfaces of the human body and the inert atmosphere.

Upon familiarity with the medium of fabric, I went back to its main purpose, which is clothing. I turned my friends into my own archetypes. As a result, they became the product of my “fashion” experiments. When this enthusiasm got noticed, people had me modifying different clothing articles. [But] I became apprehensive. I wasn't that confident to trade my craft for a living. I wanted validity. Ergo, I went to study fashion. After my graduation show, my version of heart-fainting heels somehow made an impression. That's where and how my fashion career came about.

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WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR FASHION TRAINING?

UP Diliman College of Fine Arts for Visual Communication, Fashion Institute of the Philippines for Fashion Design, and SoFA Manila for Fashion Marketing.

WHAT IS YOUR DESIGN PHILOSOPHY?

I would insist on practical experience and the progressive educational theory of "learning by doing."

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?

My design methodology has always been personal to me. Anybody can translate their feelings, may it be anger, love, melancholy, happiness, or what have you. It's always reflected from the artists' point of view, [and] people would [either] understand or criticize [their output]. But the heart of the definition of their understanding or criticism is not a normative violation but only just the labeling. The way I design clothes isn't intended to follow a certain coattail of a trend but to deviate from the trend itself. One must follow his own instinct, and the trend will follow.

I want to translate people's deviations into my own creations. It's like a fashion interpretation of the biological or psychological deviation of a person. I've always been driven to create clothing articles based on inner conflicts or the inability to control one's inner impulses or failure to structure one's behavior in an orderly way. These traits are quantified into one as a form of aggression against others due to frustration that ignites nothing but rebellion. If my collections have violated one's conventional control or if the collection amazed people, either way I'm very grateful with the outcome. There is no agitation without provocation.

WHO ARE YOUR STYLE ICONS? YOUR STYLE INFLUENCES/INSPIRATIONS?

Atang dela Rama, National Artist for Theatre and Music, who has performed the most number of zarzuelas, plays and even movies during the 1920s to 1950s. She made kundiman a profound performance here and abroad. For me she also pioneered a stylish and witty performance in her Paglipas ng Dilim and her serio-comical character in Ang Kiri.

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Second, the Carnival Queen of Manila in 1929, Pacita Delos Reyes, who gracefully donned the most extravagant traje de mestizas and the crème de la crème of Ramon Valera's couture during the 50s.

My third is Rosario Melgar de Luna, sister-in-law of Jose Luna. Also, Miss Pura Villanueva, Queen of the Orient in 1908.

WHICH DESIGNERS/ARTISTS DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?

I'm a big fan of the Art Nouveau movement. Alphonse Maria Mucha is one who greatly influenced me in the visual arts. Nicolas Ghesquière, Riccardo Tisci, Alexander McQueen, and our very own Ramon Valera for fashion. Sebastian Bach for music.

WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO DRESS? WHO ARE THE CLIENTS YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH?

I've always dreamed of dressing these women: locally, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Cherie Gil; abroad: Tilda Swinton and... yes, Lady Gaga.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TIMELESS STYLE?

The women of the old world.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A DESIGNER?

I quote Leonard Bernstein, a composer: "To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." Time is always the challenge.

WHICH ASPECT OF THE DESIGN PROCESS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?

Looking for the best fabric is like desperately looking for a perfect date. Pattern making is like making love; cutting is like an animal in labor. Assembling the pieces makes you the surgeon. But for me, drafting a pattern is a game of new discovery from manipulating the darts to subverting the whole silhouette.

WHAT'S THE BEST CLOTHING ITEM/ACCESSORY WOMEN/MEN SHOULD HAVE?

A good pair of jeans.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE GARMENT OR FASHION ACCESSORY?

The basics.

ANY CURRENT TRENDS THAT YOU'RE FOND OF? ANY CURRENT OBSESSIONS?

I'm very entertained [by] how some trends go high and some trickle down. I'm obsessed with oddity. We are now in the age of individualism.

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HOW HAVE YOU EVOLVED AS A DESIGNER?

I evolve as I vary my references, extending my palette and direct serendipity with materials.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER?

I'm proud that I'm working with people who share the same vision.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU HAVE RECEIVED ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Just by simply [being recognized] for what you're known.

WHAT ASPECT OF DESIGN DO YOU SEEK TO MASTER/HAVE DEVOTED TIME TO MASTER?

I'd like to master the art of draping.

ASPIRATIONS FOR THE BRAND IN THE FUTURE?

I just have to identify first which one is accessible and which one goes to the runway.