Graduating Central Saint Martins just last year, designer ARA JO’s Margiela-like designs have already been seen on the likes of Lady Gaga. Sketchbook caught up with her over Christmas where she told us about her love of dancing, Lady Gaga and her mermaid-inspired s/s collection.
What is your background? What inspired you to choose a career in fashion?
When I was 13 I saw fashion magazines and I just thought, I want to make clothes like in this magazine, I just didn’t want to wear it, I wanted to make it. After that feeling, I used to make things for my styling; leg warmers, skits, accessories. It was simple to make it because I didn’t know how to make it properly, but I still remember all things that I made by myself.
So was it always fashion design, or were there any other options?
When I was young I wanted to be a Ballerina, I learned dance; ballet, jazz, folk dance for 7 years, but I couldn’t go on without my parents’ support because they didn’t want me to do it. One day my mom told me “why don’t you do drawing?” I liked to draw for my hobby but as soon as I started to draw for my future, it became as my aptitude. And I really liked it. But I still love to dance, if I wouldn’t be a fashion designer, I would be a dancer.
What does a typical day involve for you?
I make plans everyday before I go to bed and my days styling begins in my head. Oh, and weather in London, even if I want to wear my chiffon dress, I am not really brave to wear in this weather, you know what I mean!
What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
My family and Lady GaGa! My parents have always supported me whatever I do, they trust me, and I want to show them what I can do as a fashion designer. Even if this job is a really hard, tough field, I want to prove that I can do as they trust me.
And Lady GaGa, yes, it is still hard to believe my collection was worn by her, I will make her wear my collection again and again. I like her own style and I want to be a part of her styling secret!
What do you feel the highlight of your career has been, your greatest achievement?
Again, Lady GaGa, she has such influencing power. Everyone says I saw Lady GaGa was wearing your collection, yes, it’s very powerful. And I also really like to see that my collection is worn by celebrities. It’s usually strange, crazy and amazing outfits! I like the madness.
Which of your collections do you prefer?
My first collection in my life, Hypnosis collection. That’s how I can start as a fashion designer in London, that’s how people know about me, that’s how spread my name in fashion field.
What was your inspiration for your 2010 Spring/Summer collection titled Mermaids?
I was surprised that there are such amazing creatures live under the ocean! Amazing colours, shapes and they are so mysterious.I am always interested in Myth and I chose my muse as a mermaid for my 2010 S/S collection.
A very curious woman who lives under the ocean. She is indescribably beautiful and she knows how can attract men. That’s what I wanted to know through her beauty. And also her friends; sea slugs, corals, tropical fishes. They are as amazing as my beautiful mermaid.
Are there any designers that you admire for their achievements, and would like to see them gain more support from the fashion industry?
I like Hussein Chalayan. And I’m sure he is quite big designer now.I think I am the one who needs to get support from the fashion industry!
Do you feel there is adequate support from publications for new up and coming designers?
I only know the way I can get sponsorship or supports (I mean financial sides) is winning competition. And that’s what I am planning for next year.
Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Well, I never worked as collaboration with other designers. But it would be great making really eye-catching project and work together. I would like to work with up-coming fresh designers like me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Spreading my name, ‘Ara Jo’ as a fashion designer. To make it happen, I will never give up my madness in my mind and I will make people enjoy my collections. We will see!
Text NATALIE MILLER