PAUSE introduces Chelsea Bravo, the promising London born designer making her mark in the world of menswear. Citing Comme des Garcons founder Rei Kawakubo amongst her influences, Chelsea’s work challenges traditional sartorial conventions and reflects the vibrancy of her home city.
How does street style influence your collections and which area of the capital would you say most reflects the ‘London Cool’ you refer to in your mission statement?
“I think it is more the culture and energy that you find on the streets of London that plays an influence in my design and styling of the collections.
“I always draw back to my teen years, the music I was listening to and how my mates and I wanted to dress and what we thought was ‘cool’. I lived in grey nike tracksuit bottoms, hoodies and Nike dunk lows, I always wore trainers! It was cool for girls to dress like the boys back then! I find it very amusing now looking back and there was a different beat and energy to life at that age, it’s a memory and a feeling I always go back to.
“For me there’s not one area of the capital that reflects ‘London Cool’. For me ‘London Cool’ is the energy, the attitude and the culture that you find all over the city.”
Who is your favourite men’s style icon?
“I really love Josh and Travis who are the boys from the blog Street Etiquette! I think they have amazing style; I’ve been following them for nearly three years and their style has really evolved and grown.”
Which celebrity would you most like to dress and why?
“Funnily enough, right now I’d have to say Jaden Smith; I’m just waiting for him to get a little older! He’s only 14 and he’s not afraid to wear drop crotch cheetah pants, now that’s my kind of guy!”
Who are your influences?
“My influences come from everywhere the city, my environment, my teenage years, feelings and emotions, architecture, music, God and the designers that I really look up to and admire such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Hussein Chalayan…the list goes on!”
You are a recent graduate, what has been the highlight of your career to date?
“Oh it has got to be being on the cover of the first issue of The Maior which is an online magazine that launched in July; they also made me the main feature. It was such an honour; myself and my family were very pleased! It was also amazing to design and produce an entirely new collection entitled Dysfunction which I showcased this September.”
You spent time as an intern with designers Christopher Shannon and Martine Rose. What was the most valuable thing you took away from this?
“I had the most enjoyable time with Martine Rose; she is also an inspiration to me. Working with Martine taught me to not be afraid of working with unexpected fabrics, for example she has used carpet underlay, space blankets and this weird plastic rubber stuff (can’t remember the name) in her collections and has made each material look really cool and innovative. She’s not afraid to take risks and play with new ideas when it comes to fabric and that was something that I definitely took away with me and still really want to push and explore in my collections.”
The inaugural edition of London Collections: Men earlier this year was a triumph and the event is set to grow from strength to strength. How important is it to have a dedicated UK menswear showcase in London?
“It’s important because it provides a platform for menswear design to really show itself off to the industry, have undivided attention from buyers and gain the recognition that menswear design in London needs and deserves.”
Do you have any routines for getting inspired?
“I don’t have any routines as such but I’m always looking out for things that will stimulate my mind and will get me questioning and wanting to explore an idea. So I’m very active about visiting exhibitions, museums, watching movies, reading, listening to different music and artists and keeping up to date with what’s going on in the world… you never know what you will see or hear that will set your mind off creatively!”
How long does it take for you to come up with the ideas behind your collections?
“It doesn’t take long to come up with an idea as there is usually an idea, mood or feeling that I have running around in my head that I want to explore. The research, developing and grounding the concept behind the collections so that it’s clear and makes sense is what tends to take a little longer.”
How would you sum up Soft Armour Revisited in three words?
“Deep, Dark and Romantic.”
How can we get hold of your designs?
“I am looking to sell selective pieces from the Soft Armour Revisited collection as of December so watch this space! You can also keep in contact by following the label on Twitter, liking our FB page and of course visiting the blog at chelseabravostudio.tumblr.com!”
All images from ‘Soft Armour Revisited’ AW12/13
By Peter Brathwaite