Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with a designer who has previously been described as one of Esquire magazine’s ’7 Brilliant Brits’, and is fast-becoming a rising star.
An LCF graduate and previous Graduate Fashion Week winner, Domingo Rodriguez’s detailed, anatomy-inspired; bias-cut; louche luxe designs that are both stylish and versatile, make him one to watch in years to come. Behind an unsuspecting black door just off from the hustle and bustle of Carnaby Street, I met Domingo for a catch up and couldn’t wait to hear more about how this laid-back, part Dominican Liverpudlian, has made so much headway in cracking the industry, in such a short space of time…
I heard you grew up in Liverpool, how did this influence you growing up?
I love Liverpool it’s such a cultural city, full of art and very vibrant. In the end, I studied arts and graphic design at college. How did you get into fashion design? I always secretly knew I wanted to do fashion even though I had no experience. After college, I decide to do a BA in Fashion at John Moores university. I had no experience and had to learn the skills of sewing, hand-stitching and pattern-cutting from scratch – it was a basic induction to design.
Why did you decide to specialize in Menswear?
When I started designing, I found that I didn’t really connect with Womenswear but I just clicked with Menswear. The collections are quite androgynous though – just this morning one of the jumpers was called in by a womens magazine for a shoot.
I read that you’ve been head hunted a couple of times, what impact has this had on your career?
After winning the Graduate Fashion week show in 2008, I was headhunted by LCF and won the Harold Tillman scholarship which paid for my MA. And then after the V&A show in 2010, after my MA, I was headhunted by ASOS to produce a bubble collection – and then again in 2011.
What was it like collaborating with ASOS?
It was a great experience! I got the chance to see the whole design process right from start to finish including visiting the factories, trying out new techniques, which I would not necessarily have had the chance to experience at such an early stage in my career. I had free reign especially as the pieces were sold at lower price points which ‘real’ people, like you and me, could afford; and ASOS really shared my vision and passion for designing casual, luxe leisure wear.
What three – five things spring to mind, that were key points in helping to shape your career so far?
Work placements with Kim Jones and Caroline Massey gave me really good experience to see things practically and how the industry works and how things happen. My collaboration with ASOS was exciting as it let me experience focusing on the intricate seam processes and detail which I wouldn’t have been able to do at that stage, had it not been for my collaboration with ASOS. Winning the Susan Cotton Travel scholarship was an amazing experience. I got to travel to Hong Kong to get a feel for the luxury industry there. I spent time at Razor Red, visited a Levis factory and some high-end, modern luxury department stores – stocking the likes of Rick Owens and Haider Ackermann – www.haiderackermann.be – to get an idea of what people are buying; this gave me a taste of where I want to get to some day. The most recent thing was the summer show as part of LCF’s Menswear Fashion Week in June – seeing my designs on that runway was a great feeling.
What inspires your designs and technique; and how would you describe your style in three words?
The body; muscle-tone; how things are formed and the anatomy. I’d say my design style is dark, sports luxe. The emphasis on the diagonal engineered patterns; no side seam (cut-out effect; and intricate stitch details are easy to wear but the fabrics of pigs suede, leather, 100% cotton add the luxury element to the pieces. This season most of the pieces are reversible including the jackets which adds a new dimension to the designs.
How have your collections evolved over the last couple of years?
I’ve worked with different fabrics now, and this collection pulls together the knits and the suede and leather fabrics.
What’s in your sketchbook?
Anything by Egon Schiele – www.egon-schiele.ne, he’s a German artist and I love his work – he’s my biggest inspiration. I also have Da Vinci images of the anatomy that I’m always studying/working on.
And with that, the interview was at an end; although not before I managed to squeeze a 2013 scoop of what we can expect from Domingo in the near future.
“I’ll be collaborating with Mark Powell on tailoring for SS13; focusing on traditional but trendy tailoring, kind of Savile Row meets Carnaby Street.” If like us, you’re having some serious wardrobe envy, we especially like the teal knitted jumper, you can find Domingo’s collection stocked in Wolf and Badger’s Dover St branch as of February 2013 or if you fancy going further afield, head to Tsum – www.tsum.ru (Russia’s answer to the likes of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges) or better yet, catch the upcoming sample sale.
For more information visit: Domingo Rodriguez – www.domingorodriguez.co.uk Doll – http://www.thedoll.org
Words: Keji Mustapha
Images: Giulia Tomba