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Interview: PAUSE Meets Chelsea Bravo

New up-and-coming London based menswear designer Chelsea Bravo is getting alot of positive reviews from her Spring/Summer 2015 Collection titled ‘Concourse’ that was shown during London Collection: Men. Graduating from the University For The Creative Arts in Rochester, Kent, Bravo went on to do internships with the likes of  Christopher Shannon and Martine Rose before starting her own label. Chelsea Bravo might be new to the menswear scene but is already making waves and will be showcasing her latest collection at the London Collections: Men in January 2015.

PAUSE just had to meet the designer behind the label whose designs is a play around silhouettes and proportions, breaking away the usual structure of menswear as we find out more about her label, fashion and everything in between.

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Tell us how your eponymous menswear label Chelsea Bravo came about. 

I knew what I always wanted to do, I wanted my own label, I felt like I was continuously doing the same thing in internships that I felt like I should just go for it, and here I am today. I started the brand in 2011 but things only picked up like last year, so 2013 was the year that things got official for Chelsea Bravo.

What inspires your designs? 

It’s all quite intuitive, it depends on what I am feeling at the time, it could be a subject that I want to express and I will just tap into that and research into that to make it a little less abstract. When you have something in your head, everything is really abstract, it could be about a feeling or a mood but you need to make people be able to make sense of it.

Tell us more about your latest S/S 15 Collection ‘Concourse’. 

With Concourse, I knew I wanted to work with art when I was in the TATE one day. I wasn’t so free at that time but I see these artists that were so free to express themselves and paint and at that time I was feeling quite restricted as a designer, and with what what I wanted to present, that influence came in and I just wanted to express the freedom of an artist. For the this collection what I did was look at hermits and monks and people who wanted to stay away from mainstream society.

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Your designs seem to have a feminine touch to them, why is this so?

Maybe it’s because I’m a female as it’s different than a guy designing for a man. I bring a uniqueness to the collections and I do draw from shapes and silhouettes rather than thinking about the practicality or the function first, so that might be the reason for the unique feminine touch in my designs.

Was menswear something you always wanted to do? 

No, when I first started Uni I was doing womenswear and then before I started my third year, I had to come up with a few concepts for my major collection, then one-day, menswear just came to mind. And I was thinking that before I leave Uni I wanted to get all the skills that I can get and it was a great opportunity to learn about menswear contruction and pattern cutting, and I just went for it really. I remembered just sitting down and told my tutor I wanted to do menswear and she looked at me so worriedly and she looked like she was so scared for me because I was such a feminine designer but they really liked it in the end and I really loved doing menswear. I felt that in womenswear at the time, everything had been done but I felt menswear was this new playing field to play around and push boundaries. Men 5 years ago weren’t as experimental like now, so that’s why I was very much interested in it.

We see that you are pushing boundaries in terms of contemporary menswear but when do you know when to stop and draw the line?

There is a fine line, as much as I do want to challenge them and present something new, I do want the guys be able to wear my pieces. I always keep in mind whether they will be able to wear my pieces, whether can they wear this or if they can they walk in this. Eventhough they are going to stand out, I still want to make it practical and functional.

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Describe the Chelsea Bravo man. 

He is someone who is in the creative industry and he is very much into art and fashion. I feel that with my collections, you have to understand the concept behind the clothes to get it. If a guy looked at my jumpsuit straight on he might be afraid of it but if you were a more artistic guy , you can appreciate it a lot more. It’s just a man who can appreciate design and who appreciates the inspirations that have been put into the garment or collection. It depends on the guy, it’s all about open mindedness.

Which celebrities would you love to dress?

Pharrell Williams, Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def and Andre 3000 as they are just really cool dudes who are not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

How do you find the menswear scene in London?

I feel like it has grown so much. Another reason I felt like doing menswear in London was because when I think of menswear here, it is all about suits and tailoring and I find that so boring. I appreciate the craft of it but I find it boring. Over the last 5 years, menswear has grown so much in London that it has become more exciting with elements of streetwear and it is now much more creative and experimental, and it has made guys become more brave to try new things.

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Are there any menswear designers that you look up to? 

I’ve always looked up to the Japanese, so it’ll be like Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo, just everything she has build as a brand, I really admire. They just really changed the game and revolutionized it, and they are always remembered. I’d like to meet them for sure and maybe have Yohji Yamamoto be my god father or something, it would be so cool!

What can we expect from your new collection that you will be showing this coming January at the London Collections: Men? 

A lot of texture, a lot of navy and that’s all I’m going to say for now. It will be a little bit more muted than ‘Concourse’ which was all about the colours and being very bright but the new collection is a little more subdued and muted, and it will be a little more moody.

Where would you like to see the brand Chelsea Bravo be in 5 years time? 

I would love to have my own store. Just to be sold at major department stores and places that I love like Dover Street Market, LN-CC, and Selfridges, like really cool top fashion boutiques, that is where I would like to see the brands. But step-by-step first.

Interviewed by: Ievan Darwin

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