Vasilis Loizides came to the big apple fresh-faced and bursting with new ideas. Theatrical, avant-garde and exciting, Vasilis’ designs show his flair for the dramatic like no one else – his clothes are costumes and the world is his stage. We managed to grab him for five minutes to discuss Cyprus, ruffles and astrology.
So to start with Vasilis, could you give us a brief introduction to your background and how it brought you to designing today?
I’m from the beautiful island of Cyprus and, to be completely honest, fashion design was not always my primary career choice. Growing up, I was thinking I would be a lawyer, even though I have always taken art classes and was involved in the art scene on my island. It was when I served in the Cypriot Military that my desire to pursue fashion design was awakened. Then I got into Parsons and that’s how it all began.
You’re from Cyprus but now call New York City your home, a place where creatives thrive and prosper. But does your Cypriot background still shape or influence your designs at all?
Cyprus is my favourite place on Earth and I try to go back as much as possible. I have lived there for all my life before New York, so it’s inevitable for Cyprus to have a huge influence on my designs. Actually, next season is kind of completely inspired by my home country (laughs).
Growing up, what/whom would you say was your biggest inspiration to pursue a future in fashion?
To be honest, I was always a big fan of movies and costume design. I really like the work of Eiko Ishioka and various other costume designers. Just the narrative that can be conveyed through garments is so fascinating to me.
How would you describe the Vasilis Loizides wearer?
Someone who is definitely not a trend-driven person, but is more likely to live on their own terms uninfluenced by societal expectations and guidelines. Someone who can take risks and can withhold power over the garments instead of the other way around.
Whilst you’re a menswear designer, your designs definitely break the boundaries of what is deemed traditional. Are you trying to change the norm, and how far do you think fashion has still got to go to achieve that?
I try to design clothes that I find beautiful and stay as honest to myself and to the aesthetics of the brand as possible. I do believe that the brand is definitely defying traditional western male attire and I am really proud to be a part of this dialogue that has started. I think we still have a long way to go but I see things changing so dramatically, which makes my heart burst into joy! I am a big fan of astrology and, as we have entered the years of Aquarius, I expect big changes to take place and rebellion to happen in various parts of our lives.
You previously worked for brands like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Marchesa, and Nicopanda. Did you find working under such big names in the fashion world restrictive? What was it that made you decide to go solo?
Working for such brands was very informative to me, as I got to see so many facets of the design process both in bigger and smaller fashion houses. Working for a brand requires you to design according to that brand’s identity, which can be restrictive, but that’s part of being a designer.
Your Fall/Winter 2018 collection plays around with the idea of ‘crocodile tears’, using crocodile skin fabric, prints and even dangling rhinestone teardrops. What drew you to this idea, and what does it represent?
Every collection has a narrative and so did Fall/Winter 2018. I like to merge the fairy tale with the real through allegories that exist within our lives. Last season, I created a story that takes place in Florida. I built archetypical characters – the crocodile, the housewife and the pimp – and tried to have them interact with each other. I wanted to experiment with the meaning of social justice and how society is occasionally being hypocritical, therefore being the ‘crocodile tears’.
You seem to be quite inspired by retro movies – your graduate show looked at sci-fi, your Spring/Summer. your Spring/Summer 2018 looked at horror, and Fall/Winter 2018 draws from Miami crime noir. Are you a huge film geek?
Totally. Movies are my pleasure, always a source of inspiration.
A personal favourite look in this collection is the embroidered heart muscle breastplate with the frilly ruffles. It’s so romantic but also looks like a suit of armour. How do you come up with these exciting new shapes and designs?
The shapes always align with the concept of the collection. I do really want the brand to keep a romantic feeling.
In both your current and previous collection, you’ve used beautiful embroidered panels as a statement part of some looks. Will we see more of this in the future, and is it maybe becoming a signature style of yours?
Yes, embroideries are definitely a means that as a brand we use to capture the story. There will be more embroidery in the future, as I would definitely say it is part of the brand’s DNA. There is something very romantic and almost profound in the act of embroidery and its significance throughout history that I find fascinating. It’s almost like an ancient entity that withstood the passage of time.
You’ve been fearless in experimenting and pushing the boundaries of your fabrics and materials to the point where it seems almost avant-garde. Is there anything that you’re really excited to try?
Next season, I am incorporating canvases and raffia, and I am really curious to see how that will add to the general feeling of the collection.
For your Spring/Summer 2018 collection, you collaborated with a director and created the film Mother of Pearl. You’ve said that your work has a narrative quality and that you’re inspired by films, can we expect an exciting shoot or film for the upcoming collection?
Definitely. I want to produce a lot of our shoots as it allows me to have control of the brand’s visuals. There will be more shoots and films in the future. Collaborating with the right people is such an amazing way to explore new paths for the visual narrative of the brand.
If you could dress anyone in the world, who would it be?
I would love to dress Arca one day, as I believe that the garments juxtaposed to his performance would be a wonderful mix.
You’ve got a lot of attention from other cities like London, home of other cutting-edge menswear brands such as Loverboy. Would you consider moving, or is New York your permanent home?
For now, I am good in New York, but I wouldn’t mind moving back to Europe in the future, as it is closer to home as well.
Could you give us a sneak peak of your what we might expect to see in your upcoming collection?
The collection will be inspired by my island. Cyprus’s name comes from the word ‘copper’, as the island in antiquity was famous for its copper resources. The collection will be an ode to the magnificent path of the country from the prehistoric times leading to its modern political condition.