Julia Männistö, 33, was this year’s winner of International Fashion Showcase, the only open event during London Fashion Week. The 2015 exhibition presented 130 emerging designers from 30 different countries.
Originally from Colombia, Julia was raised in Finland. Inspired by rich Colombian and Finnish heritage, her collection focused on shapes and silhouettes.
Artefact talked to Julia about the exhibition and her future plans.
Firstly, congratulations on winning Best Designer Award at International Fashion Showcase (IFS) this year. What was your reaction?
Thank you so much! I was thrilled. IFS was such a strong and amazing experience for me, and winning the prize just put the final touch into the great event. I was also happy about Colombia winning as well.
Tell us a little bit about the process: how did curator Liliana Sanguino approach you, and how did you preparing for the exhibition?
Liliana Sanguino contacted me through a friend. She was interested in my Colombian roots and my designs. We talked about the meaning of the showcase and my collection.
I’ve conducted a PR study and materials for the exhibition. Also, a look book and business cards of course but also making research of guests and other countries.
Let’s talk about your designs showcased at IFS. You focused a lot on shapes, silhouettes and blue colours. What inspired you to create these stunning pieces?
The story behind my collection Boys Don’t Cry is about the boundaries between protection and being trapped. One of the main themes was ice-hockey players with their protective sportswear, another being historical garments from the Elizabethan era.
I wanted to combine themes from raw manly games, that’s very popular in Finland, with silhouettes from the time when men showed their power with embellishments and glamorous style.
Using the colour blue was a challenge for me. I normally use rich colours and this was the first time I concentrated on just one colour palette.
You’re originally from Colombia, currently live in Finland and have studied in London at Central St. Martin’s. How do you think all this has had an impact on your designs?
I think it’s surely had a very big impact on the way to express myself. I feel that Colombian roots show my way of using materials and colours. Education in Helsinki and London has given me quite different points of view on fashion in two very different places.
Also coming from a small country into one of the world’s busiest cities to study with very talented people has given me a lot of amazing experiences.
What sparked your interest in fashion initially?
I started making clothes for my friends and afterwards thought I should really have a try at it and apply to study. And then through my studies at CSM I’ve become more and more fascinated about it.
You graduated from CSM in 2014. How has your creative process evolved since then?
My MA gave me a good start to develop myself and challenge my creativeness. I’ve been enjoying the possibility to do my own artistic projects and develop my own label.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how do you think it’ll feed into your work?
Starting my own label’s been on my mind lately and actually I’ve been trying to be creative in new things concerning business and money. I try to think that these matters can also be a new way to find inspiration.
Who inspires you the most in fashion?
There’s such an endless world of interesting people in fashion. It feels very difficult to say who inspires me the most but I’ve always been excited about John Galliano and his work.
What’s next for you? Will you be coming back to London?
I’m working on my own label and producing pieces to sell in London. I’m currently mostly in Finland and visit London regularly. I’ve also been setting up plans and co-operation in Berlin and Colombia.
Apart from design, what are you passionate about?
I’m a passionate cat person. I have two cats – Rauha and Bobby. They always come to me, wherever I go or whatever I do!
Finally, how would you connect fashion and therapy?
For me, fashion is my work, profession and passion, so in a way it’s also my therapy. As well as other artistic things, fashion can give one a way to see the world and understand it.
Photography by Corali Houlton