‘Fusions’ was the dynamic collection premiered at New York Fashion Week by emerging fashion designer, Clio Sage.
Graduate of Barnard College, Columbia University, Clio Sage majored in architecture but applies her technical spatial training to artistic mediums. Whilst not the natural career of a fashion designer, Sage uses her unconventional methods to her advantage and ‘Fusions’ was certainly a great staple piece for that.
A blend of geometric measuremens across abnormal apparell material showed an intricacy to Sage’s work, and the architectural prowess certainly blossomed. Now preparing for her next collection, Vaunter caught up with Clio Sage to understand how he creates her work, what lies next in store, and how she is coping with the critical support. This is what she had to say:
Hey Clio, thanks so much for spending the time to talk to us. How are you?
I’m doing alright! Been on a weird comedown since fashion week that’s been a combination of wanting to rest but also feeling restless without a project going on or a deadline coming up. But finally seem to be leveling out and taking the time to start collecting inspiration for future work.
Congratulations on premiering your latest collection at New York Fashion Week. How was that experience?
Thanks so much, it was definitely pretty wild. This is only the second major show I’ve done, but I think it’ll always be overwhelming just how many people are involved in getting a presentation like this together. Between models and coordinators and makeup/hair artists and photographers, the behind the scenes world is definitely well-organized chaos. But at the end of it all the excitement that comes from being able to put my work out in public is definitely worth the stress, both in the months preparing and the experience of the actual day.
The latest series, ‘Fusions’, showcases a series of geometric patterns and textures across your signature, unconventional, apparel. What was the inspiration behind the piece?
For this collection, I tried to show something cohesive with a narrative thread connecting each piece to the next. When I showed my first collection, ‘Tessellations’, I was essentially just presenting a bunch of experimental pieces I had made without any connection to each other. ‘Fusions’ was a much more focused down project and drew from a lot of thinking I had been doing about empathy and compassion and confusion and self identification both in the context of what’s been going on politically and what’s been going on in my life personally.
‘Fusions’ came out of the idea that for a lot of people, there is a repression or lack of consideration of feelings that are unpleasant or difficult to grapple with, and that by burying them they can be misinterpreted and projected in a form completely different from what they are. For example, fear becoming anger or hatred. I wanted to put together a collection that gave a story of breaking down the dividing line between a controlled external state and messy internal state and letting something beautiful come out of that process.
Your work has seen you featured in Vogue, Elle, and many more high profiled fashion magazines. Are you surprised with the recognition that you have been receiving?
It’s definitely been crazy to be at a point where I can google myself and have ‘Tessellations’ pop up on Vogue, especially since fashion wasn’t something I even thought about pursuing, even as a crazy pipe dream. While it’s hugely exciting I’m at a point now where I kind of have to be careful of how I think about my work going public, because it’s really easy to get lost in that excitement and then inevitably when there’s nothing new to show it feels like a huge failure or that I’m not working hard enough. Right now, I’m really trying to reground myself and mentally get back to that place of doing my work purely for myself and what I like instead of for anyone else since I think that’s where my best pieces have come from.
You actually graduated in architectural design; so what encouraged you to bring that expertise into the fashion world?
It was a weird series of choices and coincidences that happened that got me making clothes relatively consistently. My senior year of college I took a sculpture class and for one of our assignments we had to make a piece of a metal, and being nervous about trying to weld properly without that much experience I made my first apparel piece that was just a hood with a sleeve. After that, I graduated and began working in the model shop of an architecture firm, and didn’t give anymore thought to making anymore wearables. It was about a year after that first piece that a friend of mine approached me about that metal piece for a music video he was putting together, and asked whether I could make any more. Having gathered some new skills from the shop I was working in, I offered the possibility of making pieces out of plexiglass or wood since I could expedite the process by lasercutting all the pieces instead of hand cutting and drilling each one individually. From this I made my first wood top and even though the music video fell through made a couple more pieces just to give myself a project that was more creatively satisfying than my job was.
My year I was making pieces purely for myself to wear to certain events, and it wasn’t until the next spring that I decided to publically show everything at Pop Souk, a vendors fair at Webster Hall. I think that was the first thing that really gave me a public boost and I started getting emails from stylists, photographers, and then fashion show coordinators. And since it all seemed so weird I just kept saying yes to everything and making more pieces and doing progressively larger events until I started actually getting into the actual fashion week schedule. So there definitely wasn’t any planning or pursuit on my end, just a lot of openness to opportunity.
With you already premiering your Fall/Winter 2017 collection, have you already begun working on your next line?
Absolutely, I told myself that after NYFW that I’d take a month to just focus on myself, take a break from work, maybe breathe a little. I think it took about one week for the inspiration for the next collection for Spring // Summer ’18 to come and then by coincidence I got approached to create a piece for an event that was exactly along the lines of what I had been thinking about. I’m really trying not to rush into making entire pieces right off the bat though, I think what I really need to be doing is experimenting, testing, and pushing the limits of the materials I’m using in ways that someone who was purely trained in fashion design wouldn’t think of. So for now I’m actually really focusing down on my day job as an architectural model maker, trying to absorb as most knowledge and experience as possible and then applying what I learn back into my work. But I’m definitely excited with the general idea I have for the next line, which is going to have an entirely different energy from my previous work.
Our final question; which fashion designer do you currently find the most exhilarating in the scene at the moment?
I never really followed fashion designers until recently, but someone who I somehow became aware of in college and who still continues to excite me with her work is Iris Van Herpen. Her Spring ’17 couture collection, ‘Between The Lines’, is absolutely phenomenal on some many levels, from concept to design to fabrication. For me, I always get excited when I see something that makes me ask “How did they do that?” and then even better was that she posted a video of the fabrication processes which is probably the sexiest thing I’ve seen in a while and everyone should watch it. I think especially since I’ve seen the progression of her work over the last 4 years or so it’s awesome to still be blindsided by every new piece.
For more information on Clio Sage and her collections, visit her website.