My publicist Yetty has been on my case about penning down an article, any article at all. She also warned very sternly that she will not tolerate any article that comes close to causing mayhem to any circle.
Anyway, for playing safe sake, I reckoned any article about fashion couldn`t piss anyone off. Wait a moment; I could rub some folks the wrong way simply by using the word piss, non? Well, my name is Emmy, Emmy Collins and I always keep it authentic so there you have it!
This morning I woke up to the messy sight of swatch hangers cluttered all over the top of my bedroom chest drawers. I prefer to always have the swatch hangers in my vicinity so as to be able to match any inspiration that pops into my head instantly with the appropriate fabrics. Any creative individual worth his salt, onion or even pepper will tell you for free that once an inspiration pops up in your head you either work with it immediately or run the risk of losing it.
About a fortnight ago, I visited Premier Vision Paris on a fabric sourcing mission and selected some fabrics which the fabric suppliers has kindly couriered to us well ahead of time. Now, I am faced with the unenviable and time consuming task of whittling down about a thousand odd fabrics to just about 30 that will eventually make it into the collection. This stage of fashion designing might seem like fun but it does become very problematic choosing one exquisite quality fabric over another.
Presently, I’m working on my next collection, Spring Summer 2018 collection, which we hope to showcase at either Pitti Uomo, Florence or Premium, Berlin. I have also reconnected with my former Milanese agent, Gepy Ricciardo of Morden Showroom, Milan so the collection will be exhibited to buyers at Morden Showroom Milan from July to October once all the shows are out of the way. To say that I`m excited is simply putting it mildly. It has been a while since I found myself in this head space.
All through the duration of the two and half years that I resided in Nigeria, this feeling deserted me completely and the reason isn`t far-fetched at all. In Nigeria, the environment simply didn`t inspire this much cherished feeling so you can imagine my state of mind at this moment; it is that of anxiety but more of hope and belief in my work and ability. Fashion industry is a jungle but one that I rather live in. It feels so amazing to be back in one`s element.
Anyway, I`m going to utilise this last few paragraphs to tell some of you guys about Pitti Uomo, Florence and why I love showcasing there despite the hefty cost. When my label was launched in 2003, there weren`t any credible men`s show in London. The London men`s collection or London Fashion Week Men`s as it is currently called has just been around for about 10 seasons so one will be very justified to say that it is in it`s infancy as far as shows are concerned.
Spaces were limited back then at Pitti so it became quite competitive to get in. Since I was still on a learning curve, I did not quite grasp how the seasons functioned then so my application came in three weeks late and I had that fact communicated to me in a kind email. The organisers loved my look book but yet did not put me up for consideration. I was somehow dejected but whilst I was brainstorming on my next step, my mentor, David Jones’ words rang in my head.
He once said to me “Emmy, sometimes you need to bluff your way in or out of situations” and here was definitely a situation I needed to bluff my way into. At this point I figured out I had nothing more to lose so I might as well give it another shot. I fired a short but precise email back to them and it read “Cara Signora, Thanks for your kind email. I totally apologise for the lateness of my application. However, I will politely ask you to kindly visit my website as I believe my brand is the type of innovative brands Pitti is rumoured be wooing to the show. Yours Sincerely, Emmy”.
The news on the fashion circle at that time was that buyers were complaining about the lack of new and innovative brands at Pitti. There were big brands like Hugo Boss, Baldesrini, Missoni, Nichole Farhi et al but not the new innovative ones because buyers want to discover something new every season. I must say that I never expected anything to come out of this as I was already considering an alternative show to showcase my collection but to my utmost shock, I received a reply two hours later asking for a couple of samples to be couriered immediately to Florence so they can view and feel the quality.
At this point I realised that I was unquestionably in because right from the onset I had bent over backwards to ensure that the quality of my stitching and aesthetic of my garments are on par with the best out there. You can fault my work based on anything but never on quality. David Jones used to say to me “there will always be folks who don`t appreciate your designs since you can`t be everything to everybody however once they have an axe to grind with the quality of your tailoring then you are really and thoroughly screwed.
Depending on how busy I become over the weeks, I might come back here to drop an article about my first experience as an exhibitor at Pitti Uomo. Best believe the experience was hilarious and educative.
Did I mention that Pitti acts as a melting pot of stylish individuals in the world? Well, I urge you not to take my word for it; do your own research.
As soon as the new collection is ready, we will get it published in Nigeria as my way of keeping in touch with my homeland. I call this my first real collection since coming back to my stomping ground, London.
Emmy Collins is a UK-based Nigerian fashion designer
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