Paul Vasileff , a passion for haute couture
Paul Vasileff is the young designer for the Paul and Sebastian label and, at only twenty-six years of age, is already proving his talent in the extremely difficult world of haute couture.
You’re a very young couturier. Do you feel pressure because of your young age?
Although I am young I have been doing this for my whole life. I never feel pressure because of my age. No after how old you are, couture is something that’s in your blood. I’ve been making evening gowns by hand since I was eleven years old so I know what it means to be the pattern maker, cutter and tailor because I have done those jobs my whole life. Even now, when we have a lot of work to do, I sit and help sew or pattern make in the atelier. This is especially true when we are preparing for a collection! We still use quite a lot of traditional tailoring techniques, which I feel are very important to uphold. The only time I really feel the pressure is when I am designing a new collection. That’s more because I’m responsible for my staff and as the business grows, more is a stake. That can be a little scary but it’s something that I don’t think will never change, and I don’t think I’d want it to. That pressure that makes you work harder. Sometimes the best pieces are created because of that pressure.
Is it difficult to be an Australian-based couturier?
With the Internet and current technology it’s so easy to be connected internationally. I don’t think it matters where you are. Australia doesn’t traditionally have a fashion ‘capital’, as you would with Paris or Milano. People do sometimes find it hard to understand how we can do this sort of work from here. However, with technology and social media we are able to stay in touch with our clients and even have virtual consultations and fittings via Skype. It’s really quite easy and nothing is ever impossible. I lived in Milano while I was studying and although I loved it there, Australia is my home. Having my family and friends around me is what matters most to me.
What does being a haute couture designer mean in the 21st century?
Couture has always been about quality and craftsmanship. To me, designing couture is really a mindset; knowing that it’s not just about the design, but also how it is made. It’s understanding craftsmanship and adapting that to whatever you are trying to create. I think many people see couture as just ball gowns or statement runway pieces, but it can also be a beautifully tailored jacket or even a blouse. With the modern world and technology, there is so much more to consider. I believe due to an excess of ‘fast’ fashion, there is a real return to couture because clients are after unique and quality garments. They understand the value of having quality fabrics and cuts, but at the same time they want to be able to live their lives in these clothes. It is really important to understand the difference between Haute Couture and Couture. My dream, like many people is to eventually call our work Haute Couture and I understand that this is a long process. It will take a lot of hard work, but it is my ultimate goal.
Plenty of celebrities choose your gowns for the red carpet: how can you combine their needs and your creations?
I love working with celebrities, and all our clients, for that matter. They always bring their unique style to the table, and being able to incorporate that with our aesthetic is always fun. I always really enjoy creating these custom pieces as it gives me the chance to form something really special and unique.
We saw Coco Rocha walked your runway in Adelaide: what can you tell us about the collection?
I was extremely excited to have Coco Rocha open our show. She is one of my favourite models, and it was such a pleasure to work with her. She really understood the clothes and was a true professional. The Wildflowers collection really came from the idea of a breezy summer meadow and the idea of our girl walking through the field picking wildflowers. I really wanted to create a feeling of lightness and fragility and to transport the audience to another world. We had a beautiful grass and floral field created for our runway. People who attended the show told me that they saw butterflies fly inside to rest on the runway, so I think we really captured the essence of a dreamy bohemian meadow with this collection. The starting point for the collection was the dandelion dress that Coco wore. We translated the image of dandelion wisps caught in the wind into our embroidery. This then carried through the collection with flower chains, soft tulle and French Chantilly lace in shades of magnolia, peach blossom and nuage.
You’ve presented your collection also in Paris, do you think you’ll come back to Europe to show your next collections?
Yes, I am sure we will be back next year. It is quite a lot of work as we are on the other side of the world and it is hard to coordinate, but Paris is my dream so we make it work. If it continues to go well it just might mean that we will have to have a base there too.
What can you see in your future? How would you like your brand to be in the next years?
My dream has always been to work in, and have the title of, Haute Couture. I love the craftsmanship, the traditions and sensibilities of couture. So, although we are just couture for now I hope to one day be able to call ourselves ‘Haute’ Couture and show on the official schedule. This is my goal and what the team and I are working towards every day. I know this will be hard to achieve but I always believe that you should dream big! I don’t know exactly what the future holds for Paolo Sebastian, but it has been an amazing nine years. I’m just grateful to be on this journey and living my dream, so I’m excited see where it takes me.