Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kwantlen Polytechnic University - Sofia Fiorentino, No Paradigm



Runway images by Christopher Pike Photography
Editorial images by Sansitny Ruth, SOT Photography

As I have shared previously, Kwantlen Polytechnic University's April event - The Show 2015 - offered the grad collections of 39 fashion design students on the runway at the River Rock Casino Theatre in Richmond.  My highlights from the show were published on Metro Living Zine - to read click HERE 

Over the next few weeks I struggled to try and select a few young designers from amongst the strong number of grads to feature in solo articles. I definitely wanted a mix of aesthetics and target markets as well as interesting design. Sofia Fiorentino caught my attention with her gender neutral line of easy to wear garments released under the brand name - No Paradigm.  

"No Paradigm is a genderless clothing line, a reflection of a paradigm shift based on removing boundaries. Each piece is versatile and made to change with the wearer, featuring all natural fibers and hand applied surface design." - Sofia Fiorentino

Soft neutrals and natural fabrics were molded into very wearable looks. Sometimes these looser silhouettes can end up looking shapeless. Not so in this collection. Looks were both stylish and modern with great proportions. I enjoyed Fiorentino's exploration of gender neutral clothing and loved the dark, spidery shawl accenting one look.

I hope you enjoy the following Q and A with this rising talent as much as I did.  She's definitely one I will be keeping my eye on.


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Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I grew up in Nuñez, neighbourhood home to the legendary soccer team River Plate.

What you like when you were young? 

A little brat. Also a total actress, always looking for my few seconds of fame on grandpa's videotape recorder.


What were your interests in High School?
It started with things such as philosophy and social sciences, then moved on to art, photography and acting. It came to a point my last 2 years where I was mostly skipping class to make things in the graphic arts room. I was also interested in languages since I moved around a lot with my parents.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

My lovely grandma Esther would keep a sewing kit in her room to mend clothes mostly. I always viewed it as the ultimate treasure chest and would go through it over and over making sure I was familiar with all the pieces in it. I started hand sewing for the extensive crew of Barbie dolls that lived in my house. They clearly needed dresses made out of socks with buttons sewn all over them. I think this was a sign that I liked making things and I liked dressing others.
Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

The original plan was to go to art school. I got accepted, but just didn't feel it was right, I needed more functionality behind the pieces I was going to be making. Fashion seemed like a great idea as I would be able to make wearable art. I am really lucky to have such wonderful supportive parents. My dad was a designer himself and my mom a language teacher. They had me at a young age, so we've always learned through life together.

Why did you choose to study at Kwantlen Polytechnic University?

I started my studies in fashion design at Angewandte Kunst Schneeberg (Contemporary Design School in Schneeberg, Germany) and did my first 2 (foundation) years there. I decided to transfer to Kwantlen and finish my degree in Vancouver to have the best of both worlds Europe and America in one degree.

Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you, are they any high, low or funny moments you can share?

The hard part has always been to stay focused and to find balance. A lot goes on in your personal life when you are 19-25 which is how long it took me to finish my degree (with some breaks in between to save money and relocate). Easy isn't really a word for it, but I always found it uncomplicated to find inspiration and design direction. It is something that is deeply embedded in me and I just have to focus and listen to it and follow. 


The second year at Kwantlen was brutal, so many lows, but I was so lucky to share it with one of my best friends who dragged me through and who I dragged through as well. Not sleeping and bad food is just the tip of it. The highest point was the reward of seeing my final line pieces become alive in the many collaborations I did with my photographer and film maker best friend Sansitny Ruth. Looking at your line on beautiful models was inspiring, but having other artists feel inspired by the clothing you made is a whole different level of amazing.

What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

I was inspired by the ability of removing boundaries, social, territorial, as well as the most obvious one, gender boundaries. I am very interested in gender issues and our ability to question things and reinvent the rules. Pushing boundaries through clothing is just the beginning.

Describe your collection – customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

Avantgarde inspired genderless clothing

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

Neutral colours, natural fibres.

Do you have a favourite look?

No, I love all of them as a whole.

What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

A step back and a reality check. We are all the same - humans, imperfect and vulnerable. Embrace it.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?

I am currently working with a pretty influential Vancouver based company as a full time designer. I will also be travelling to Argentina for a month with my family to see my beautiful folks over there. Then I will be showcasing my own collection in Vancouver Fashion Week this upcoming September.

Please share a quote on what fashion design means to you.

Just like many other design disciplines, form follows function. Fashion is not an exception. It also generates conversations, shows the social and political landscape of a society and serves as a platform for expression. If used as a tool, it could turn the everyday decision of what to wear into small statements.

Anything else I didn't ask you want mentioned?

One of the most important messages of my line, is the sustainability of a community through a shift in perspective and values as a society. I believe clothing helps with this shift and would love to stimulate change and break the mold and challenge perceptions.

To contact Sofia Fiorentino or see more of her work, please visit her website at www.sofiafiorentino.com

For more information on the fashion design program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University go to www.kpu.ca/fashion.

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