This year more than ever, I was very interested in Gala UAD, the local event showcasing fashion design graduates’ collections. One of the designers who particularly caught my eye was Ancuta Sarca. She is an MA graduate, and her collection was a breath of fresh air. She customized the shoes, she hand-painted plastic and even made the accessories for the runway herself. Plenty of colors, unusual materials, and a visible sense of humor made me want to know more about this girl. So I asked her to meet up. We did and interview and a photo shoot, starring the designer herself wearing her graduation collection. All shot by Dacian Groza, of course.
Kittenhood: What’s your first fashion-related memory?
Ancuta Sarca: I was around 12 years old when I got a pink top as a present. I loved the colors and the prints on it, but I hated its shape, so I tried to change it into a bag. I quite liked the result back then, but obviously now I think it was awful.
K: When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
A.S: I was interested in making things since I was a child. I just loved creating stuff or, better yet, destroying stuff sometimes; not only clothes but everything… I just liked creating something and to knowing that I made it myself.
K: This was your second time showcasing at Gala UAD. What changed since your BA collection? How did your aesthetics evolve?
A.S: I think the way I am looking at things changed. This collection was somehow a continuation of the previous one in concept, but (two years ago) when I did my BA collection I was not so focused on the details or mixing colors. Now I just enjoyed playing with colors and textures. This time it was more fun and spontaneous.
K: What was your inspiration for this collection? Who do you picture wearing these clothes?
A.S.: I was inspired by the luxury characters of 18th century and the self-portraits of Samuel Fosso; characters like George Beau Brummell, Baroque paintings and the way people dressed, how important clothing was back then. So it was a mix of elements taken from English lords of the 18th century, 70s silhouette and shoe shapes, and the atmosphere of Samuel Fosso’s works.
K: How much do you identify with the clothes you make? Do you design things you’d like to wear yourself?
A.S: Everything I make is part of my own identity. When I’ m creating something, I start by thinking what I would like to wear or how I imagine my character being dressed, and only then I start to create.
K: You did a lot of hand painting, sewing and crafting for your MA collection. How much work goes into a collection presented at Gala UAD?
A.S: While I was working in London I got into this idea of craftmanship, handwork on textile, playing more with colors and textures. I started working on this project almost a year ago, so there are lots of experiments and failures behind this collection, too. There’s a lot of work involved in a collection, especially when you have to do plenty of things by yourself.
K: The fashion school in Cluj is known for exploring minimalist, black/white color palettes. How did you end up using so much color in your collection?
A.S: This was a little bit of a risk that I assumed, but my professors have always supported me and encouraged me to go ahead with my ideas and the aesthetics that represents who I really am. Also, my whole portfolio is full of colors and drawings (not so much digital work, because I find it flat somehow, but a lot of handwork and collages). I just can’t resist colors, and I could not reduce myself to black and whites. I always feel that I want to show more and more of my ideas, and that I have lots of things to say.
K: Why the fascination with hi-tech materials?
A.S: It’s not really a fascination with hi-tech… latex, for example, has been used in fashion for decades. What I like to do better is mix these unconventional fabrics in an atypical context like 18th-century baroque luxury or opulence, creating a contrast between these elements, like the lingerie and underwear were made of white rubber lace.
K: In fashion design, what’s the biggest challenge that people don’t know about?
A.S: I don’t know if people know about it or not, but finance has been a big challenge to me since I’ve started making clothes. Fortunately, this time, I found sponsors that helped me a lot and I am very thankful to them.
K: You interned at Meadham Kirchhoff. Can you tell us a bit about what you did there and your experience at London Fashion Week? And I think many readers will be interested in knowing how you got there in the first place.
A.S: Few months before starting the internship, I had an interview with one of the designers and the assistants, where I presented my portfolio, my BA collection, we discussed my works and my skills, and that’s how I got there. In the first months I worked for their production (sewing/pattern cutting/fabric manipulation etc.) and in the last months I helped with the Spring Summer 15 collection (sewing toiles and final garment, pattern cutting, technical drawings etc.) It was amazing seeing all the process of how a collection is constructed. The London Fashion Week experience was a very organized thing (as expected), and my job there was to dress some of the models from the show.
K: How would you compare the fashion world in London to that of Cluj or Romania in general? And what do you think about the current scene in Cluj?
A.S: You can see a huge difference between them by just watching the people on the streets. London has always been one of the greatest cities in the world of fashion; you can find the best designers in the world there. However, by analyzing Cluj-Napoca’s history and present, the communist doctrine, what I have noticed is its recent, extreme novelty. People have just started becoming more and more open to change, whereas London already has an advantage of a few decades.
K: Would you rather work for a big name in the fashion industry or work on your own brand?
A.S: I would love to work for my own projects and build my own name, but I also feel the need to learn more things working for a fashion company for a while. It’s a little hard to say now, you never know what’s coming next.