Interview: Séf Farrugia

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She loves both salty and sweet tastes, wishes to visit Brasil and the Pink Panther is her favourite cartoon character. This interview had been sorted for a few months now, yet it took us time to set it up for publishing. We’ve met self-employed Séf Farrugia to discuss her world of fashion design through a creative and critical lens. Working between Malta and London, Séf read for a BA (Hons) Fashion Degree at Ravensbourne University from where she graduated in 2011. Her collections were also produced in United Kingdom. Farrugia had also studied at London College of Fashion and completed a National Diploma in Arts and Design at MCAST.

Do you feel more of an artist or a fashion designer?
I wouldn’t choose one or the other… My work could be described as standing within the design realm whilst keeping faitful to artistic values. I dislike tagging or categorising work and in fact I do my best to try and keep my expression as versatile as possible.

How do you develop yourself creatively and how do you intend not to loose the passion about your talent?
I try to keep reinventing myself and research new techniques which i could apply to my work. If one truly loves what he/she does, it would be difficult for the passion around it to fade out. One might get discouraged at times and quit the activity, yet, the resulting void would inevitably trigger a return to it. Arts and design are disciplines that require ongoing processes of observation and discovery around new things.

Do you find fashion design fun or serious business?
It can definitely be fun, but it is also very serious because, many people invest heavily in it! The process is very much enjoyable especially the research process that makes you think you are going one way and takes you somewhere unexpected. It is the reality i appreciate most. Yet, when it comes to financing this cycle every single day, it becomes very serious and calculated.

How does a fashion designer go through the research, narrative/storytelling and design processes?
Everyone does it differently; there is no rule to follow. Personally, I usually start by reading a lot / researching various subjects, illustration, creating artworks, making test pieces, a lot of brainstorming, mood boards, a lot of sketching… all sort of stuff but it isn’t always the same. Research is truly one, if not the most, important aspect when starting a collection or a project. This because it’s the foundation for the whole experience around the work and it’s the foundation on which any fashion designer base his/her final creation.

Do you love collaborating with other fellow fashion designers? Ever considered collaborating with an architect or, say, a painter?
I haven’t yet collaborated with a fashion designer but I don’t exclude any possibility. I have always enjoyed collaborating with photographers, stylists or whoever took interest in my work. I always keep an eye open for such opportunities as I enjoy having a mutual inspiration with fellow practitioners. It’s been great so far. I look forward to more opportunities!

If you had to design a brand new pret-a-porter national costume for Malta, how would that look like? Can you show us a quick sketch apart from its description?
I would keep the ‘għonnella’, have it printed with Semitic patterns in 100% silk with heavy embellishment, then, I would have a floor length black, tight fitting Maltese fine lace dress with chunky filigree jewellery. Of course this would be for women!

What would be a great breakthrough for you to feel really up there with the best?
To look back after numerous years and say wow it’s been 30 years of doing what I love best… Hopefully, this dream will one day become reality!

Would you consider starting up your own manufacturing fashion house, locally?
Financial stability is a major factor when considering such an option. I would say that a local manufacturing fashion house would be a major financial risk because fashion industry markets are almost nonexistent locally. Going for such a commitment would probably be starting up at a disadvantage within such context. However, if in a few years down the line, I would be in a better financial situation, I wouldn’t mind considering such risk. I love Malta and I hope there will sooner or later be organizations that would be interested to look into the fashion industry as a source for investment, much like it is in other countries.

Following your experience in Malta and in the UK, what would be the one thing you’d change within the MCAST Art & Design system if you had to be Minister for Education for a day?
I would employ individuals who are truly passionate about what they teach, not necessarily academics or certified tutors. Sadly, there are only a few who truly inspire students. I wish Art & Design institutions live upon passion and energy not just guided lessons. They should be less conservative as i believe art & design is everything but academia.

Share with us a ‘like’ and an ‘unlike’ you can quickly think of if we tell you “Malta Fashion Week”
Like – It is a good launching platform for local talents.
Unlike – I just wish more industry-based organizations, both local and international, invested in it.

Are you an Italian or a British fashion world fan? Why?
I used to think I am more of an Italian fashion fan, but now that I have spent quite a bit of time in the UK and can understand what makes UK fashion, I find myself a UK fan too. Italian fashion is what I grew up with and still love. British fashion, on the other hand, is very inspiring and pushes a lot of boundaries.

Just like the Italian presenter Marzullo would do, at the end of this interview, we demand that you ask yourself a question and give yourself an answer?
- What does the world need?
- A new birth date. A Revolution.

Séf Farrugia’s The Casa Azul collection for spring/summer 2013 with a tinge of Frida Kahlo and Carmen Miranda’s distinct worlds.

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