Jordan born designer Nafsika Skourti talks us through her favourite books, her design process and what fashion means to her.
Having graduated from CSM in 2012 and launched her debut collection in 2014, Jordan-born designer Nafsika Skourti has also done time at the Marchesa HQ in New York and trained in haute couture, embroidery and passementerie at Ecole Lesage in Paris. Her AW15 collection – Everything Must Go – is testament to her unique training and her work ehic and process is innovative and refreshing. We catch up with Skourti to hear more.
Tell us a little bit about your current aesthetic?
The key word here is ‘current’, this answer will expire in a few months. Right now I’m in a much louder phase, turning the volume up.
Do you feel like studying at Central Saint Martins was a catalyst in your decision to follow your current direction and aesthetic in your designing?
Central Saint Martins is all about extracting what is already in you, more so than injecting. So it was good breeding ground, but the seeds were always our own.
What is it like being a designer in Jordan?
It works. I lived, studied and worked in London, Paris and New York, so when I when I felt like it was time to come back, I didn’t come back empty handed. On the one hand, the fashion industry is very small here, tiny actually, so there are challenges that come with that. But on the other hand, there is an untapped creative energy. Like how every country or climate is best for a certain kind of fruit – mangoes grow in Sri-Lanka but in Portugal you get oranges. I feel like Jordan has a unique ecosystem that’s really feeding me right now. From the conflict we’re surrounded by, to the lack of some resources, the abundance of others – all these factors influence my work.
Tell us about your design process. What are the steps you take from creating an idea to handing in the finished product?
It’s always very personal, and I find that the more personal I am in my message the more universal it is. This summer all we (me and my sister/business partner) wanted to do was go to festivals and travel with our friends, enjoy being young, celebrate it. We wanted fun. Our schedule didn’t allow for it but it was still in me and I think it came out in the SS16 collection. When designing I always start with the fabric. Experiment with print, embroidery, whatever. I then look at a lot of vintage and second hand stuff – they’re a huge reference, especially the ‘bad’ stuff. I’ll have two parallel databases moving in my head, one lane for fabrics and textures and the other for shapes and styling. Then there is a lot of draping on myself – cue cringe 2am selfies. It’s the only way to make sure things don’t get too ‘theoretical’.
What is it about menswear that you are so passionate about?
Don’t you ever go to the women’s section of a store and think, why? Menswear is designed with that ‘why’ in mind. Everything has a point.
What would be the best way to describe your brand identity?
As a young brand, I feel like we are evolving with every season, expanding our vocabulary and experimenting. But there are some elements that never leave: developing interesting textiles, tailoring, a certain minimalism. But really it boils down to contrasts. Really good contrasts.
Where do you see your career in ten years time, and what skills do you wish to collect that you do not yet posses?
I want to get super good at running a company. Creatively and other wise. I’m talking Armani good, not just any good. In ten years I imagine everything will expand, the machine will get bigger, faster, better. I hope that despite all of that, to still keep our creative integrity. It’s the one thing you can’t outsource. My bonus skill would be to develop an app or to make a short documentary.
What does fashion mean to you, and how do you think it benefits our natural instincts to stand out as individuals?
If I had 10 minutes to deliver the essence of fashion (as I see it) to someone I would start by getting out my favourite book ‘Exactitudes’ by Ari Versluis and Ellie Uttenbroek. It’s basically cultural anthropology – a fantastic photographic study of modern day tribes and sub cultures – the most interesting for me are the people who aren’t trying to say anything, the ‘normal’ ones, because it makes you realize that it’s impossible to not say something with what you wear. It also visually illustrates the very close, very interesting relationship between clothes, people, and lifestyles. Fashion is often wrongly over-associated with glossy photo-shoots. Next, Ill get my laptop out and go on a modeling agency website and browse through some model portfolios, where its all the same girl, but she looks crazy different in each shoot. Sometimes she’s a tomboy girl, sometimes she’s an alien girl, sometimes she’s an uptight sexy bitch girl. All this just from hair, make-up and clothes. This is relevant to me because fashion is about fantasy and transformation. Being able to change your packaging is just such a sexy concept.
What a great explanation. Okay, last one, which celebrities do you see wearing your collections?
Yasmin Sewell, Julianne Moore, Chloe Sevigny. Omg I would die if the London Grammar girl wears something. I don’t even know her name but I love her.
Photography: Kirill Kuletsk