DESIGNER PROFILE: ANANDA PASCUAL
We are so excited for this year’s Market 338 that we decided to put together a little preview. Our designers this year are such a talented bunch, we wanted to know more about them! Of course, we thought you would too. In our Designer Profile series, we’ll be getting to know some of the designers and find out what influences them. Enjoy!
Ok Ananda, welcome to Bahrain! Is this your first time in Bahrain?
Yes, its my first time in Bahrain and the Middle East, I’m very very happy to be here.
You came to Al Riwaq to teach a fashion design course. How did you become a fashion designer?
I began my studies in pedagogy but midway through my studies I decided to change to fashion. I completed four years of my education in Madrid and I work and live there now. I have also spent a few months in London for my final project. I’ve always liked the arts, and many people in my family are artists, but I never thought of studying it. During my pedagogy studies I found that I needed a more effective way to express myself. So I thought to myself, why not study fashion? So I did!
What is your favorite thing about being a designer?
For me it’s the creative time alone with your thoughts. I also enjoy the traveling, it is a great opportunity to find influence and be inspired. Finally, the feeling of seeing your final collection complete is unforgettable. I love seeing the garments on different people. You spend hours with it in the workshop measuring it on models and mannequins. But when you see it on people on the street is a very different feeling entirely, its like real all of a sudden.
So you’ve seen people on the street wearing your clothes?
Yes, people and celebrities too. The singer Russian Red and the Spanish actress, Paula Echeverría, her husband is a famous singer too. They were both photographed in a tabloid magazine and she was wearing one of our pieces! We got a lot of press for it, which was great. We were so proud and happy! It was a great feeling.
You must get to travel a lot as well.
Yes, but most of my time was spent in India. I love traveling and working, its one of my favorite things about my job. In my third year of university, a woman approached us with an exciting opportunity in India. The project entailed that we would go and help the garment makers in India make their design more fashion forward and contemporary so that they can sell their products to the market in Europe. India was an amazing experience! I felt so useful as a designer and the final results of the project were very successful. The workers in the factory now sold 5 times as much as they sold before. The opportunity gave me a chance to know the Indian culture first hand from the workers that we collaborated with. I worked with them and lived with them. The experience changed me as a designer and as a person. They were so meticulous when carving the wood, and they dyed their own paints and hand printed the fabric. It was a very inspiring experience.
You have your own label now, but you’ve worked for other Spanish designers past?
Yes, I used to work for Zara, which was another very good experience in my career. But the big companies of fashion work in a different way, and for me its not the best way for the designers, suppliers and the customers. They are working in “fast fashion” and they produce things that do not last and that you will probably dispose of easily. This is harmful for the environment and also not the best method for the suppliers either who they pay very little as a result. It is also harmful for the customer because it makes them form unhealthy consumption habits. They get used to easy consumption and the need to purchase things at a high rate. I love fashion and hold it to a high regard, and I’d like it to be used to make peoples livelihood and lifestyle better not worse. I believe in ethically conscious fashion, it’s the new age of fashion. It’s easier for me to make these decisions in my own business, because when I see a problem with my supplier I can change them easily. I’ve worked in India, Nepal, Brazil, Cambodia, and as a result I learnt many things from them. For example, everyone wants to work and live with integrity in their life and in what they do, and that’s the message I’ve been trying to spread with my fashion and the people that help me make it. Currently we are producing in India, Cambodia and Peru.
Has anything surprised you about being a fashion designer?
I’ve had few surprises, but unfortunately they were not the good kind. The marketing was harder than I thought. Making your brand message clearly available to many people is a hard task. It’s even harder to be a cross-culture designer. I didn’t have such a hard time with the designing aspect of it, but more of the business part of it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Mainly from my feelings and emotions. But it’s also a combination of experiences I’ve taken from living in the city, and how to make it more comfortable in terms of the movements of day-to-day activities. Last but not least, from color combinations. Everyone always comments about the colors in my collections and that is very important to me. I feel like I take this from the exotic colors from the places we’ve been and traveled to. Mixing neural grays of the city with exotic colors of the places we’ve traveled to is what we try to do in our collection. In the beginning it was done unconsciously, but the trend has become very apparent to me.
Do you have any advice for young Bahraini designers?
First and foremost a good education in fashion is important. Study a lot, it’s a beautiful field, and you have to work very hard at school. I have personally spent many hours in practical workshops. You do need creativity, but if you don’t have the skills to make the garment you won’t be able to achieve anything. Also an important skill set is pattern making. It’s a basic skill that is very useful. And finally enjoy, because if you don’t enjoy what you do it’s impossible to achieve greatness!
Ananda Pascual is a Spanish designer who came to Bahrain to teach a fashion design workshop, part of the pre-market 338 workshop series. Inspired by traditional souqs, Market 338 is a venue for local, regional, and international designers presenting outstanding modern works, live music performances, designer talks and workshops that reflect on current topics of contemporary design. 29 November – 15 December 2012.