I’ll always remember the first time I met VFranz Bernil. It was exactly a year ago at the By Thomas and Christian L’Enfant Roi fashion show. I noticed him right away for my street style blog and he ended up being my best male look of 2011! When I learned he was a fashion design student at College Lasalle and that he had created what he was wearing, I was very impressed. If VFranz’s look was any indication of his aesthetic, I had to keep an eye on him…
And I did… Last February, just before I left for New York Fashion Week, VFranz lent me a couple of his designs to wear in NYC. My favourite piece was definitely this draped number with leather fringes, studs and spikes at the neck. I wore it twice, as a dress at the Altuzarra after-party and as a top, with leather pants, at the M.A.C. Viva Glam launch. Both times, I got tons of compliments.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned that VFranz was going to present his first fashion show in Montreal, before even graduating! This was the perfect occasion to go see him at his atelier (one of the classrooms at College Lasalle), talk about his plans and have an exclusive sneak peek of the collection he was preparing for spring-summer 2013…
So let’s start from the beginning, what did you do before getting into fashion?
I used to be an athlete. I actually played triple A basketball in College and even went to the Philippines for a one year scholarship…
Wow! And what brought you to fashion?
I think everything starts off with how my mom used to dress me up as a little kid. When you’re young and fashion is what you see everyday, I guess it becomes a staple in your life. I’ve always been the type of person that wanted to stand out, I never wanted to conform with anybody else… and I guess the best way to do that is with fashion, because that’s how you express who you are and that’s how others define what they think of you. At least their first impression.
So what was your fashion design knowledge before Lasalle?
When I got here, I didn’t even know how to sew, so I think I can say that my first semester in Lasalle was when I learned the most in my life!
Let’s get into the collection you are going to present on October 5th… what was your inspiration?
Because of what I’ve been doing up ’til now, people expect me to do only draping, but for SS-13 I did some pattern making. I tried to create new shapes and finishes, to show my versatility. So this collection is a lot about simplicity, I was inspired by squares & rectangles and by the 80’s.
In general, how do you come up with a collection?
Most of the time, it just starts with one thing and I build around that idea, but still integrating a part of me. Everything that surrounds me is an inspiration: what other people wear, what I see on the runways. There’s also a matter of trends, but not to much… I feel like people are so stuck on trends, that they forget about beautiful clothing.
Who are the designers that inspire you?
I’m a really big fan of Ricardo Tisci for Givenchy, I like Rad Hourani’s unisex vision and I really admire Alexander Wang. Actually, I would see myself working for Alexander Wang’s design team. I think we should all want to learn from the best, so I’d like to learn from Alexander Wang, just like he did from Diane Von Furstenberg.
And in Quebec?
I love Philippe Dubuc, Denis Gagnon and Martin Lim. I actually interned for Danielle and Pao and I really learned a lot with them, they are so talented! But Montreal designers are not getting what they deserve and that really scares me…
You are going to finish school this year, what are your plans for after?
I don’t know, I’ve been working on VFranz for one year now and everything has been good, it’s been talked about thanks to people that believe in me. To be honest, I do not know where this is going to take me… I’m 23 and I’m just taking it one day at the time! But I want to travel and do great things!
To finish, what would you say sets you apart?
I work very fast, so I would say my quickness… but it can also be a downfall, because sometimes I won’t spend enough time on details. That’s why I love draping, because I can see how it’s going to fall right away, I just need to stitch it and sew it. I’m also very ambitious and not scared to try! Why wait once you are done school to put a foot in the industry. As soon as you can, you should do it!
VFranz’s spring-summer 2013 collection will be presented on October 5th at Plaza Swatow (998, boul. Saint-Laurent, 3rd floor). Doors open at 6pm and the show starts at 8pm. Tickets are 15$ and you can get them here!
I hope to see you there!