Gabriella Saderna

Page 1

Creative Director/ Fashion Editor/ Photographer Peng Qin Features Writer Sophie Swietochowski Editor Lianne Piroddi

LOOKBOOK Art Director/ Stylist Peng Qin Photograher Kirill Kuletski Photographer Assistant Peng Qin Model Eugenia Kas MUA Phebe Wu Hairdresser Moon Fashion Assistant Lianne Piroddi Vicky Kim


Other pictures and references all by

Creative Director/ Stylist Peng Qin Peng Qin Gabriella Sardena Film maker/ Sounds artist Maryanna Dmitrusenko Photographer Assistant Peng Qin Model CONTACT: Luqi Yu MUA Sojeong Kim

qinpengemerald@ lianne.piroddi@

Fashion Assistant Lianne Piroddi





Painting by Gabriella Sardena

# inspiration of Gabi's work


1 07/01 2 12/01 3 19/01 4 26/01 5 09/02 6 17/02(final show)

# fitting process

# Gabi's girls

“Tacky can be a really good thing if you tur n it into something beautiful.”

—— Gabriella Sardeña

In the dimly lit setting of Mahiki she dances, twirling from side to side in her simple pastel smock dress. Hair flowing down her back, a contagious grin on her face. The music thumps wildly as she bounds over, clutching her drink. “Did you see it? What did you think?!” she questions ecstatically. Brown eyes growing wider, her whole body bubbling with excitement. The first day we meet with Gabriella Sardena she is contently sewing, her pale cheeks flush as she recites the story of her work. We had already seen her textiles many times before we eventually saw the face and hands behind each masterpiece. Pink mesh was scattered carelessly across the large pattern cutting table, trapped tightly within a wooden embroidery hoop, brown shiny cassette tape woven through the center. We knew it was cassette tape as Head of the College, Jeremy Till, had told us on our first day. He’d welcomed us to the school with an inspiring speech about the fascinating wonders and marvelous delights that adorned the hallways of Central Saint Martins. “It’s incredible! There’s a girl out there sewing cassette tapes!” he exclaimed, pointing towards the large door that concealed the entrance to the MA Fashion studio.

That girl was Gabi.



“The purpose of a textiles designer is to collaborate and work with talented people who work with shapes and not fabrics.” —— Gabriella Sardeña

On Friday 17th February 2017, 23-year-old Gabriella Sardeña showcased her MA collection in London’s Store Studios during fashion week. Soft, tulle evening dresses splashed in shimmering bright colours glided down the runway; paired with stripe knitted stockings and chunky distorted puffa’s. It was a perfect marriage between tranquility and chaos.

And in 2016 to her surprise and delight was accepted on to the course, with sponsorship from the British Fashion Council.

Born in Gibraltar, the energetic textiles designer had always excelled with her creations in art and design. After completing A-levels in Spanish, Art and Psychology, Gabriella knew where her true passion lied. “I did Maths for AS level . How random is that?” she laughs.

“I feel like I’m lacking a lot of skills, mainly contextual and also knowledge and fashion intelligence. It’s important to have a good understanding - as a base of what’s come before and what’s come after. Having this knowledge helps you understand trends and what’s to come” she explains.

“I don’t know why but in my head it just makes sense” she says. “I never had time to revise because I was always in the art studio painting and prepping for my art exams.”

Despite her successes so far as a designer, having been featured in Wonderland magazine and on the runway at Brighton Fashion week, Gabriella’s lack of confidence has kept her rooted, continually pushing herself, striving for better. Now a recognised designer in her own right, Gabi still struggles to see herself as anything more than a regular, London student.

After relocating to the UK to study Textiles Design at Manchester school of Art in 2011, she realized that she wanted to push personal boundaries. Gabriella apprehensively, having previously been rejected at foundation level, applied to the prestigious MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins.

Gabriella spent her previous years in education boldly exploring her abilities as a textile designer, innovatively playing with new techniques.

Thursday 12th January 2017…5 Weeks until the show

Every time we meet with Gabi, she’s at her desk in the MA Fashion studio, frantically embellishing some tulle; a high stool supporting her, with splashes of bright fabric scattered across the table in an absurdly organised mess. Bits and pieces trail onto the grubby floor beneath her, but these aren’t necessarily to be discarded. When she speaks, she will always look up at us, still somehow managing to pierce perfectly precise holes with her needle, a developed artistic instinct.

Today she’s wearing a blue and white thick striped shirt. It has clashing and chaotic coloured flowers embroidered across the shoulder that trickle down the chest. “There’s just not enough hours in the day!” she says looking up at us still maintaining a smile.

Beneath the light brown hair, slim frame and honest face lies a bubbly, vibrant and charismatic persona. Gabriella’s crazy and silly traits come alive through her work. “I think anyone who knows me and sees my collection are just going to laugh and say Oh that’s just so Gabi!” she giggles. “Although I’m crazy, it’s still very sophisticated.” Extremely observational, Gabi absorbs the entire world around her, taking inspiration from her own self, as well as situations, people, personalities and everything that crosses her path. “I really recommend this, If you’re ever having a really shit day and you want to be alone, sometimes the worst thing is to be sat at home. Get a coffee and go to one of the exhibitions at any art gallery that’s free and just walk around. Sometimes I just stare mindlessly at the paintings and it makes me feel better. Sometimes I like looking at the people watching the paintings. It’s so nice just to see their reactions and you can eavesdrop on their comments. It’s really uplifting and inspiring.” Gabriella says. She struggles to pinpoint the origin of her creative vision. But as an onlooker it’s clear: Her ideas were not sprung from one artist, book, film or designer, but from life itself and the grotesque beauty within it. “I like bringing out the disgusting side of beautiful fabrics and beautiful things.” Gabriella says. Simply put, Gabriella Sardeña’s collection is a representation of her own self.

Much like the collection, Gabriella’s personality encompasses a sharp duality. Determined, but gentle and generous, even at the ripe age of 23, she has the ability to take charge of a team. A mature and modest artist that can recognise the expertise of others in areas that she herself is lacking. Her strong head keeps her on track and her vision focused. This is integral to her success as a creative director. She doesn’t like this title, but nevertheless it’s the role she adopted. Despite claiming to be a feminine and girly character, it’s obvious that Gabriella has a laddish streak to her personality, never taking herself too seriously.As an artist she is m a l l e a bl e, adapting to varying genres and briefs. But her core remains the same - she has the talent to inject aspects of herself into every piece she creates. Her super-villain named collection is fun, vibrant, elegant and eccentric. Using brown tape dissected from Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Madonna cassettes, Gabi sews abstract patterns into softly dyed tulle. Building layers with lace and creating dimension through electrichued confetti style ribbon. The technique makes

He goes on to describe the dresses as a crazy scene from the “mor ning after the night before.” An image that Gabriella also depicts in her work. Gabi describes her woman to us as someone “who is consumed by hidden vices. She has gone out innocently but goes wild and comes back completely fucked. She’s happy and joyful,

but very true to a woman.”

The final line-up consists of two crazy, heavily embroidered jackets, Beast and Boom; alongside 6 lowcut, delicately draped, embellished dresses; Bumblebee, Dennis the Menace, Sugar Rush, Prison Break, Ronald McDonald and Original.

“I’m the biggest dreamer ever. I overthink things but in an imaginative way and I think you can see that in my work.”

her textiles dynamic and interactive. “You can touch it. It’s not delicate at all. It’s supposed to be touched!” she informs. . With each movement the ruffle of the lace against cassette tape can be heard and the

reflective colours shimmer and bounce in the light. “You know when you’ve had a really great party and there’s loads of shit all over the floor? It’s like that” Dean Jennings, one of Gabriella’s first year collaborators muses.

—— Gabriella Sardeña

All paired with bright, horizontal, knitted stripe stockings and matching layered bodysuits cropped a n d s t re t ch e d ove r t h e shoulders.

“It’s all about quality, the vision and having a complete story. If you’re all over the place, it’s easily noticeable. That was the case with me to begin with. But now my knowledge has developed and improved, I’ve been able to find more of a vision, more of a woman. My team has helped me with all of that.”

—— Gabriella Sardeña

Gabi’s journey began with a sportswear aesthetic. She felt an urge to experiment with new, unique materials leading her to delve into the idea of creating pattern with illuminous sports tape. “It was too heavy. I couldn’t thread it through and it was tearing all my fabric” she explains. The material was soon scrapped, but this then sparked a thought. She began toying with multi-coloured bin liners,

before coming across old cassette tapes once forgotten in her family home. Experimenting with different thicknesses and VCR tape, her embroidery progressed. “I was playing around with ideas and then I started listening to the actual music. So I went to the charity shop and I bought about four Johnny Cash’s! But the rest are blank. I couldn’t face telling people that I was destroying music! But I’ve kind of made him better, I’ve made him all fluffy!” she says.

Artistic experimentation drew light on the lack of colour within her work. Searching for motivation, she discovered abstract, Danish artist Tal R and formed ideas from his paintings. His use of bold colours and innovative techniques, related to her exciting and carefree style of work. “He’s really, really fun. Over the summer I scrapped my precollection and focused on him more as an artist. Although there have been loads of ups and downs and turning points in my works, he’s always been there as my focus” she says. Despite her successes so far as a designer, having been featured in Wonderland magazine and on the runway at Brighton Fashion week, Gabriella’s lack of confidence has kept her rooted, continually pushing herself, striving for better. Now a recognised designer in her own right, Gabi still struggles to see herself as anything more than a regular, London student.

Gabriella’s concept was becoming clear. “I had to remember that I am a textiles designer. I had all the inspiration. I now needed to get the to the fashion side of things.” Her research naturally drifted towards late 70’s disco influences. “The fabrics I was using were shiny and crunchy. Everything felt so transparent and seductive.” She used this concept along with her artwork and textiles experimentation to present the overall vision to her collaborative team.

Gabriella Sardeña and her team work closely together to design and sketch; create and construct; edit and re-work each look. Every individual adopts an independent role. Part of her success is down to the well-formed bonds within the team where honest ideas are freely bounced around on a daily basis. The “King of drape”, Joshua Kim says “Gabi’s just so open and she actually wants to hear each one of our opinions because she respects everything we say. We help design things, but she makes sure each look is focused and that it’s all part of her collection. It’s her colours, it’s her decisions, it’s her.”

The initial few weeks were a struggle for Gabi, as incredible yet overwhelming combinations of ideas were thrown at her. She found it a challenge to reel in four unique creative visions and direct them all in line with her own concept. “At the beginning we didn’t exactly know what the look was going to be. Because I was making sheer gowns that were very goddess like. Then Deanna was making quirky, striped, bold knits and Gabi had these crazy textiles and with it all together I thought – How’s this going to tie in? You know this could be like a really bad remix.” Joshua Kim explains.

Gabi needed the expertise of first year designers on th e M A Fa s h i o n course at Central Saint Martins, utilising their skills and knowledge of silhouette and shape to help turn her textiles i n t o a wo m e n s we a r collection. After presenting the vision, six individuals approached her. She explains “Whoever was interested came around and started looking at my samples, touching them and sharing ideas with me, speaking to me. I wanted to hear what they were thinking instantly. Fabio, Fleet and myself all discussed them. Fabio gave his suggestion and then he asked, do you agree with this set? And I did.” Four of the six individuals were chosen; Joshua Kim, Daniela Geraci and Laura Fanning, all MA Fashion: Womenswear and Deanna Fanning from MA Fashion: Knitwear.

25-year-old Joshua is the backbone of the dress design. With a keen eye for fabric drape and a taste for simplicity, his role within the team has him focused on the design, creation and development of the physical dress structure. He works alongside Melbourneborn Laura Fanning to sketch, pattern-cut and rework designs. Partner Laura acknowledged the boldness and volume of Gabi’s textiles in combination with twin sister Deanna’s busy patterned knits. She saw each dress as a backdrop to display Gabriella’s work, letting the textiles shine above all other aspects. “There were three aspects: the dress sitting well, the dress working with the knits revealing bits that were relevant and then also working with the textiles” she says. Laura worked closely with sister Deanna, acting as an informative link between Joshua’s elegant

“This is why you do collaborations, because unexpected and sometimes brilliant things happen. It’s like a salad you know? You have to mix different vegetables together, otherwise you’ll just have… lettuce.” ——Joshua Kim

dress designs and her sister’s sporty knitwear. This ensured a seamless continuity within the collection, allowing both areas of design to complement one another. Two weeks after formation, the collaborative team had successfully honed in on a clear and direct vision to present to Fabio Piras, course leader. But Fabio instantly recognised something crucial was missing. An element that Fashion Womenswear student, Dean Jennings could offer. Renowned for creating sharper, chunkier and broader shapes, Dean’s first proposal was rejected as it stood miles apart from the fluid, elegant silhouettes that the other members had put forward. But after criticising the team’s initial designs for lacking volume and density, Fabio threw Dean back into the mix. “It was just weird to begin with because I was coming into a group where everyone has already established their own place within it.” Dean says. An introverted character, Dean kept himself slightly disconnected from the group and strictly focused on the construction of the jackets. “It was almost a separate project on the side. The four of them were working on this idea and then the jackets were just kind of added on. It was a strange integration.” In a similarly distant position from the team stood Daniela Geraci, who’s frothy dress designs were cut from the collection four weeks prior to the MA show. Joshua Kim explains, “It’s sad because some really nice dresses were cut, not because the designs weren’t good, but they just didn’t fit with the whole creative vision.” Without realising it though, Daniela may have been the most influential member of the entire team. It was her unique sense of style and personal wardrobe, consisting of vintage negligee’s, which inspired the sense of femininity within Gabriella’s collection. Daniela Geraci was the team’s muse.

The collaboration included a delicate balance of bizarrely complementary personalities. A dynamic that would cease to have worked without Gabriella operating as Creative Director and the leading role. Gabriella’s one rule: no contact over the weekend. Spending the weekend alone, away from the team’s influential and persuasive voices ensured that Gabi could analyse the progress of her collection independently. With a clear head and space to think, Gabi looked carefully at her work to make sure everything was flowing in line with her vision.

“Alber Elbaz said that sometimes the funniest and happiest people are the loneliest and saddest. It’s so true. I’m a very happy person, so happy, but I can be such an emotional wreck and I hide it well. I’m optimistic about everything, but by myself in a room I get affected by things.” In March 2016, Gabriella began her extensive and progressive journey towards her final collection. The textiles designer speaks of the importance of sharing her adventure with classmates, immersing herself in a world of aspiring talent. A strict schedule during her 7 day working week keeps her on track; arriving at the MA studio for 8:30am each morning. “I eat breakfast at Uni, I just wake up, get changed and come, otherwise I’ll never leave the house.” she explains. Gabi describes the morning as the most productive part of her day, focusing solidly on embroidery. In the afternoon, a more mellow atmosphere, “the pace in the room slows down. When it gets to four or five, everyone gets really tired, grumpy and stressed - if you’re having a bad day this is when the tears start to come.” Being in such continuous close proximity with classmates or competitors leaves no escape, raw emotions run high. Under constant watch and scrutiny, from course leader Fabio Piras, Gabriella shares a strange and unique bond with her peers. “But THEN, my favourite time of the day, 7 or 8 o’clock.” She continues, colouring a picture of delirium that somehow results in an uplift of energy. “Everyone’s laughing or we start taking the piss out of something. I’ll bring out snapchat and we start trying on each other’s clothes. I call it loopy hour.” Gabriella immerses herself in this relentless routine. Every day in the studio is an emotional rollercoaster in itself; peaks of joy that plummet to troughs of angst are now the norm in the young artist’s life.

Despite Gabriella’s superior self-assurance, the textiles designer is still haunted by her doubts. She says, “I always worry about my work and think what if it’s not me and it’s a lot of [the teams] work. They’ve done all the drapes they’ve done all the shapes and I’ve just confirmed and agreed on things.” But these worries are in fact part of what makes Gabriella Sardena such a strong Creative Director. Her receptive nature balances out her anxieties, ensuring a focused vision, whilst at the same time giving her the flexibility to adapt to changes along the way. The 23-year-old pours her soul into her designs, spending the majority of her own finances on the development of the collection. Using the same material for the main structure of each silhouette, results in little product waste. The more vividly coloured pre-dyed tulles are sourced from Berwick Street Cloth Shop and the softer coloured tulles are bought in cream from Woolcrest Textiles. Disperse dyes are applied by Gabriella herself, a self-proclaimed synthetic-dye connoisseur, in the CSM print studio. “I did a few samples and then I was able to estimate it. I use massive tubs and I dye about twenty metres at a time” she explains. As with many artists, Gabriella’s work relies heavily on trial and error. “At the beginning I was embroidering on to the lace and then attaching the lace to the dress, but it was too heavy for the main fabric.” The techniques evolved. Using a mannequin to hold the dress, sturdy swatches of lace are loosely pinned, tacked and then stitched directly onto the structure before being embellished. “The embroidery, you can’t rush it. It’s difficult for the others to help because I just do it mindlessly, I don’t really think about it.” Gabriella explains. There’s no pattern or logic to her sewing and decoration, her mind leads her hand. “I leave the strings all uneven and I work back to front. It’s like colouring in, you know? I just colour in where I think is right and then step back, put it on the stand and inspect. I can see what is missing. It’s a very natural and free way of working.” This intricate hand embellishment is an incredibly time consuming stage of the process, taking up to five non-stop working days to complete the decoration of just one outfit. Laura Fanning and Joshua Kim, Gabriella explains, usually complete the construction of one dress, in two days with the help of a professional seamstress. However, the majority of the team’s efforts undoubtedly go into the working, reworking and further re-working of each look. Regular, weekly fittings are crucial to Gabi’s success and development of work in line with her vision. On a model, the pieces come alive, the drape can be criticised and the detail analysed. Entirely completed garments are often ruthlessly scrapped from the collection during these sessions as they no longer fit with the vision. It may seem a waste of the team’s time and efforts, but the elegant hand-made design is often used as just a platform from which the team can draw inspiration. An even more sophisticated, powerful and improved garment can then be created. Intricate gowns that have taken hours of painstaking effort to produce are hacked apart with scissors in a mere few seconds to be used for parts. There’s a disturbing satisfaction that lies within this.

It’s 6:30pm and lack of available space near the studio has meant that this week’s fitting will take place in the busy, narrow hallway near the double-doored entrance to the MA design studio. Despite their bleary eyes, the team’s positivity and optimism creates an energetic buzz. They are animated and proud of their progress. As the model stands gracefully in the first look, the team are debating the new cowboy boots, an ugly type of pretty. But the chatter quickly falls to a hush as Fabio is spotted leaving his office, heading in our direction.

Thursday 19th January…4 weeks until the show

Initially it seemed as though the crave for Fabio’s approval was solely based on Gabriella’s desire to be selected as part of the MA Fashion show. But stood in the room at that moment, in a suffocating atmosphere, it was plainly clear that his approval meant so much more. Walking swiftly past, Fabio’s eyes remain fixated on the model, his head twisting further round with each step as he approaches the door. His gaze drops and sighs of relief are exhaled as he pushes open the exit. He steps halfway out. And then… “It needs more.” Swivelling on his feet and in three swift steps he’s stood facing the model alongside Gabriella. The rest of the team stood anxiously at the peripherals.

“The texture looks a bit poor” he says dismissively. He turns to walk away again and then immediately turns back as if suddenly remembering something of crucial importance. He points accusingly at the embellished garment, “It needs more texture! It’s too…” he pauses. His voice gets louder, his tone more aggressive, “She looks like a swan!!” he flicks his hand upwards as if shooing the model, then turns and leaves the room. Silence falls.

After the outburst from Fabio the whole team had gone into a frenzy. Pulling feathers, fabrics and anything they could find and frantically pinning them to the criticised dress. Every person moved as if they had been switched to fast-forward on a television screen. Cutting at the dress, colouring boldly on top of the tulle in felt tip pens, snipping pieces of lace. By the time they were done, no one could tell if they’d created an ingenious masterpiece or a disastrous mess. The next week when we meet, Gabi she talks of the breakdown that this had eventually induced. “So that dress is gone, I’m not doing feathers anymore. On Friday I had a really bad day. The team had a presentation without me, and then half way through Fabio requested me to say Gabriella you’re the problem. Everything else is fine. Embroidery is the problem. I was crying all day and couldn’t shake it off.” She shows us the extensive changes she’s since made, voice wavering slightly, “[Fabio] was definitely right, but there is a way to say things. And I don’t want it to be a write-off, I know the show isn’t everything… but I just really want to be in the show.” Fabio hasn’t seen the collection since the breakdown. “I don’t know, I really don’t know anymore.” She mumbles.

“Wildly decorative glam-femme.”

——Sarah Mower, British Vogue

As the MA show approached, tensions were charged and emotions muddled. Roles within the team became blurred and embellishment, sparkle and texture became everyone’s chore. On Monday 30th January, 3 weeks before the show, Gabriella received official confirmation that she had been selected. Despite hints from Fabio that she was already on his list, Gabriella had refused to allow herself a celebration. Even after receiving a confirmation email, Gabriella still constrained her delight, mindful of the strict warning that “Collections not meeting the requested criteria will be dropped without further discussion.” When we next meet, Gabi is unable to contain her enthusiasm “I’m so excited for the show, it’s so close but so far. January has been the longest month of my life. I feel like it’s been a year. I’ve been through so much in three weeks emotionally. And physically I’ve made so many changes [to the collection] as well.” The days leading up the show were an excited blur for the designer. On 2nd February, Fabio Piras introduced Gabriella to Sarah Mower, widely esteemed Fashion Journalist, who later that day shared a photo of the textile artists’ work on her personal Instagram.

It’s 7pm and a large sign boldly branded with the words London Fashion Week glows eerily in the yellow light that creeps from the entrance of The Strand. An army of eager students and friends pile desperately around the barriers of the building, queues spilling across the pavement and down the tilted street. The show doesn’t start for another hour. But people wait patiently. “You may as well join the queue.” We turn around and see a small boy, hands placed firmly on his hips, glaring sternly. “There’s no point standing here, I’ve been here for three hours and the lady in charge knows that I’m first in line.” The slight tremble in his voice gives away his uncertainty. His words are powerful but his tone desperate. We see Joshua Kim lined by the wall close to a barrier, his invitation grasped tightly, eyes scanning the masses. He spots us and starts waving frantically. As we battle through the crowd towards him, I notice he’s not alone, Daniela Geraci and Dean Jennings stood sheepishly at his side. They’re all dressed in what can only be described as an artist’s Sunday best, slightly altered versions of their usual quirky uniforms. Daniela a brush of rouge lip paired with her best negligee; Dean in an all-black ensemble covered by a tailored straight jacket; and Josh pristine and precisely colour matched clutching a small white wrist bag.

Friday 17th February…Show Day

“I’m a little bit nervous, but excited!” Josh says, shifting from foot to foot, itching with adrenaline. Gabriella of course was already inside, flanked by Deanna and Laura, who were helping dress the models. She’d been busying away all morning, poking at hems in the CSM design studio, perfecting every minute detail of her collection. We’re not sure whether this work was genuine or whether it was just an excuse to distract herself from the overwhelming thoughts and panic that would have otherwise consumed her. Half an hour over-schedule, guests were finally seated and the doors shut closed on the helpless, bitter and ticketless crowd who had stood eagerly waiting. The small boy included. Voices settled to a simmer and the show began. It’s impossible to know exactly what Gabriella was thinking the moment the lights shone and her models walked. She found it difficult describing the blur, but confessed a brief moment of disappointment and fear when her fourth model tripped during the runway finale. But nothing could mask the euphoria that had taken over.

Show Day Friday 17th February

The next couple of days were a blur. Fabio Piras who hibernated for the weekend post show returned to the school. As he’s about to enter the lift, we pounce, eager to unveil why he selected Gabriella for the show. “Well, why not? Would you not have picked her?” is his unsurprising response. We gave him our thoughts, and passed the test. “I chose Gabriella because she is relevant to fashion at this moment in time.” he says. “The fact that her picture was used on Vogue Runway to represent the whole of the CSM show speaks volumes.” Comparing Gabi’s style to that of Dior couture with a modern and interesting twist, he describes her success, “I think the team really understood Gabriella, they share her vision. At the end of the day, she’s a textiles designer, not a fashion designer and I don’t think Gabriella could have done it without [them].” Gibraltarian news tabloids have revelled in the opportunity to boast Gabriella’s heritage. Your Gibraltar TV praised her for being “the first and only Gibraltarian female fashion designer to study at Central Saint Martins.” Her social media was similarly showered with statements of glorification, including new influential supporter Sarah Mower, who personally congratulated Gabriella via Instagram with the claim “So proud you are a BFC Education Foundation Scholarship Scholar.” Widely distinguished publications including I-D, Vogue and T he Telegraph are similarly recognising her brilliance. Anders Christian M a d s e n at I - D M a g a z i n e s ay s “Gabriella Sardena's freaky, feathery glam rock didn't read like colourful escapism, but simply as unadulterated fresh energy: the kind of fabulous fun fashion people love to see.”

“Gabriella Sardeña – Watch out for her. She is a star!”

Comparing her jackets to those of Calvin Klein, featured on the runway in New York earlier that week, they applauded her talent, “putting something wild and attention-grabbing on the runway may seem like an easy task. Getting it right is not—but Sardeña did.” After recovering from the predicted ‘after show comedown’ Gabriella seems different - more relaxed, less jittery and a general air of calmness surrounds her. “I want to move to New York.,” she says. Although she spent her 2014 summer interning for GAP In San Francisco (who even ended up producing one of her designs), Gabi worries that her lack of experience will hold her back in the industry. “It would be quite naïve and immature of me to think that I could set up my own label when I’m not even a womenswear designer. If I’m working for a company and working with somebody who has done it before and shadowing them, I’ll be able to learn. It’s not all about the creativity from my own self. There are a lot of things you need to consider.” She says.

——Sarah Mower, British Vogue

We try to be delicate with the bags, even though we know Gabriella herself won’t be. We’d always found it fascinating – that way she’d never been precious about her work, she’d also grown to trust us. Looking around the entirely deserted MA studio, a strange sense of relief could be felt. It seemed so cliché, but it was the first time we’d ever seen the sun shine through the studio windows, the golden glow reflecting off the bare tables and stretching across the open and empty space, speckles of dust that float in the air were highlighted by streams of light. It had always been too busy and too crowded to notice the outside world. Full of fabric, mannequins and people, hurriedly rushing from here to there, weaving in and out of moving obstacles. Never had the place been so silent, so still, so warm and so welcoming. “We’ll have to organise a night out before I go to New York.” Gabi says as we pile the last of the eight plastic covered looks into the car, bound for our photoshoot. She smiles the same Gabi smile and embraces us individually before tottering to the front passenger seat.

Tuesday 28th February…2 weeks after the show

“Grab whatever you can.” Gabi says reaching for a hanger that’s concealed in part by a transparent clothes bag. On the rail in front of us hangs Gabriella’s MA graduate collection, each look sealed tightly. Her clothes still look beautiful even when sandwiched between two layers of plastic; the blue party streamers from look 07 squashed playfully.



___________stardust "turn off"

It was the duality in Gabriella’s collection that fascinated us. The dark, seductive glamour of the loud, punchy embroidery versus the soft femininity of the draped silhouettes. The combination of sporty, blocky knits that accentuated every curve, against the fluid transparency of the tulle. We wanted to explore this friction in her work and bring out the darker side through moving image. It was the first time we had been alone with the collection and we immediately formed a deep connection.

The embroidery pulsed under the lights, bright pops of metallic tape dancing in the dark, like a disco ball.

Whilst explosions of refracted colour bounced off every surface, creating new textures and shadows. These were clothes to be touched, to dance in, go wild and have fun in. It was important to record the models intuitive reaction to the clothes. As soon as they touched her body they came alive. She moved to their rhythm. This is what we wanted to capture.Gabi’s women. The decadence and frivolity of “some woman with hidden vices that goes out innocently and comes back really fucked.”

The filming process of "turn off" 20/02/2017



___________m o r n i n g sun "turn on"

The femininity and fragility in Gabriella’s collection couldn’t be ignored. After focusing in on the darker, louder, more brazen side of her woman and collection through moving image, we wanted to explore the softer, delicate, more romantic nuances. The Lookbook was our opportunity to celebrate the craftsmanship of Gabi’s modern-day couture embroidery in detail and draw the eye to the technical proficiency of the cut and drape of the dresses. Soft lighting was harnessed to accentuate the fluid silhouettes and capture the fabric’s lightness of touch against the dynamic embellishment. The model’s interaction with the clothes was crucial to us. “The clothes are delicate but I just want to grab them and play with them. I want to run down the street in them.” This was Gabi’s woman once again, that wild streak, the innocent playfulness that leads to debauchery.

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