At the beginning of the year, the first crop of fashion design graduates showcased their work with the LCF MA show taking place in the ornate Raphael Gallery at the V&A. As mentioned previously, I was fortunate enough to take my seat to watch it all unfold and I was utterly blown away by the menswear design talent on show. From the nineteen students who were showcased it was the menswear design graduates that really shone through. Among them was Domingo Rodriguez who went on to enjoy a hugely successful 2010. Since showing his widely acclaimed MA collection back in January, he has presented his SS11 offering in Paris as part of Esquire's '7 Brilliant Brits' and has now collaborated with ASOS.
The enticing fruits of ASOS MA}ke, Domingo Rodriguez and Yong Li Lee's capsule collection.
As part of its continued commitment to nurturing and supporting emerging designers, ASOS selected one menswear and one womenswear designer from crop of MA graduates to embark on MA}ke. Ma}ke is an exciting mentoring initiative which culminates with both designers creating capsule collections to be sold on the hugely popular and ever growing site. The successful 2010 graduates selected to be part of MA}ke were menswear designer Domingo Rodriguez, and womenswear designer Young li Lee. The two graduates joined ASOS in April and have since worked closely with the different functions of the business to help create their capsule collections. Each year there are a handful of extremely talented graduates from each of the main institutions but the question of how best to develop this raw talent in to success (commercial or otherwise) is an intriguing one. This initiative is ASOS' answer and the results are extremely promising. To mark the imminent availability of Rodriguez' understated cool capsule collection, we sat down with the designer to discuss the initiative, to look back over a remarkable year and also to look forward.
SS:Describe the moment you realised you wanted to be a menswear designer?
Domingo Rodriguez: I've always had a desire to do fashion - I started off studying art and graphic design but was very daunted to admit it! It’s a very women’s dominated area at college level but I quickly got over myself and started my BA in Fashion Design and Textiles. I quickly realised I didn't connect to a woman’s form, womenswear comes easy but I was stuck on... boobs! I moved over to menswear and everything just clicked. I haven't looked back since!
SS: How did you become involved with ASOS Ma}ke?
Domingo Rodriguez: I got involved with the project after the MA show, they came to the V&A catwalk and then we met up and I got to show them the collection up close. My MA collection is very subtle so I was able to show them all the soft detailing and pattern cutting details in person. After working tirelessly on the MA collection for months leading up to the show and to be recognised for all the hard work was fantastic!
SS: Along with Young li Lee, you joined ASOS.com in April and have since worked closely with the different functions of the business. The experience must have provided invaluable insight into the business of fashion. What have you learned over the last seven months? What advice would you give to a prospective menswear design student?
Domingo Rodriguez: Working with the design team has been one of the most eye opening and freeing experiences of my career so far. I got to go through the whole design cycle, from inception to tech packs, pattern cutting, fabrication, samplings, fittings, I got to see how the real creative commercial world works. The amount of detail and the quality of the MA}ke collection is fantastic, we've done things technically that I can’t produce for myself so its been exhilarating! My advice for students is to get experience in the real fashion world, just seeing how it works means you can make that leap from dreaming of fashion to understanding and realising it.
SS: What was your starting point for this design brief and how did it evolve in to the capsule collection we see today? How did the ASOS team help realise your creations?
Domingo Rodriguez: I have tried to build upon the world I created for my MA collection. So the core vision; the design, cut and pattern-work are all extended from catwalk show. I reworked my signature styles, translating my distinguishing details such as J-shaped sleeves, drape fronts, chevron textures and grosgrain details. Tonally I slightly tweaked the colour palette from the show to make it more accessible, mostly because I want to be able to wear them everyday! We have some amazing details like the flat suture stitch and magnet fastenings!
SS: I love the beautifully cut, soft tailoring pieces crafted in luxurious fabrications but how would you describe the collection in your own words?
Domingo Rodriguez: I think soft is a key word, soft progressive menswear. My pieces feel very familiar, echoing on traditional men’s pieces but up close subtle details become apparent. Bias rib going down the spine or rib cage, one piece cutting around the body and waterfall drape fronts with a very tonal and homogenous colour palette.
SS: What type of man do you envision wearing your designs?
Domingo Rodriguez: I hope it appeals to a broad range of men. I've tried to create a balance of more familiar pieces and more accessible progressive pieces so that there is room for it to fit into any wardrobe.
SS: 2010 has undoubtedly been a pivotal year for you. Since showing your widely acclaimed MA collection back in January, you have presented in Paris as part of Esquire's '7 Brilliant Brits' and have now collaborated with ASOS. Are you working on anything else in the near future? What do you hope 2011 will bring?
Domingo Rodriguez: I hope to carry on the momentum of the past year into the future and slowly build something in my name. I'm currently working on my next collection for AW11, and I have some exciting collaborations with Kopenhagen Fur and PHI-NOM in the works to look forward to. I'm very excited about the future and the launch of the MA}ke project!
Through MA}ke, ASOS want to give their customers access to beautiful, considered pieces whilst giving young designers a vital leg up in the industry. Both Rodriguez and Lee were designers to watch the moment they unveiled their MA collections but with the online powerhouses help, we have been afforded an early opportunity to support their talent.