BRICKS contributor Luke Smith gets to know Cyprus-born, New York-based emerging fashion designer Vasilis Loizides.
In recent years, the term Queer is being reclaimed and has been explored in the creative scene; from London to New York, its energy is blooming. On the 21st September, the Queer Fashion Show took place in London, spotlighting fresh talents that experiment with gender with fashion. With events such as these redefining what it means to be queer, it brings into question — what does the queer scene look like outside of cities such as London?
“Cyprus is so rich in culture, and there is an intense creative scene there which produces excellent work," says New York-based fashion designer Vasilis Loizides. Every piece Vasilis creates is dismantling ideas of gender, merging this with his rich Cyprus heritage to create pieces that explore what the face of queerness looks like in his home country. By putting a spotlight on Cyprus, Vasilis is showing that the queer scene goes beyond the four walls of the world we are accustomed to.
"I would say it has taught me to work hard on my own sometimes and hold on to my vision, and not always take the advice of a teacher or any authority figure when it comes to my work.”
“I guess to a certain extent the urge to create artistically is something you have from an early age,” Vasilis exclaims when talking about his initial passion for design. He goes on to say “As a kid, I always loved to draw and watch movies.” Vasilis notes one of the most important reasons for his success is his solid support system, stating “I was fortunate enough that my environment was consistently supportive of this which allowed me to pursue it [fashion] as a career eventually.”
Moving to New York to study at Parsons School of Design, Vasilis experimented with his craft and discovered what it really means to be a designer. “Parsons was great in providing the technical knowledge that I needed to be where I am today,” the designer explains. The school has given Vasilis more than a strong knowledge of design, stating “I would say it has taught me to work hard on my own sometimes and hold on to my vision, and not always take the advice of a teacher or any authority figure when it comes to my work.” Vasilis is a designer who is constantly evolving, taking the opportunities he is given to shape his craft. Working for brands such as Marc Jacobs and Nicopanda gave him the skills to build his brand, saying “At Marc, I got to see how a big scale brand functions and that was insightful, and at Nicopanda I helped to build the brand from the beginning, so that was great as well. I was involved in all aspects of the brand like PR, design and production.”
From Parsons to Marc Jacobs, the designer finally set his sights on building his brand, showing his first collection at the Fall 2018 shows at New York Fashion Week. “It is a wonderful experience, my team and I worked hard so to see it flourish into such a beautiful product as a whole which was rewarding,” the designer says about his most recent Spring 2019 collection. Vasilis went back to his roots for this collection, drawing upon the culture of his home country of Cyprus to create a collection that felt personal. “Cyprus is one of the oldest countries in the world and is bursting with culture and beauty, so I wanted to create a collection that somehow aligns with that.” Although the country has a rich art scene, the designer notes more could be done, saying “. I wish the government took more art initiatives to promote our talents.”
A common thread that runs through the veins of his designs is their ability to realign modern views on gender. Queerness is often explored within the realms of cities such as London and New York; Vasilis looks further than what we see to examine the state of gender in Cyprus. Talking about queerness in Cyprus, Vasilis says “there is still a lot of work that can be done regarding queer visibility in the media, but again that's a global issue.” The words ‘queer’ and gender’ have in recent years, been hijacked by fashion as somewhat of a buzzword; expressing his feelings about this, the designer notes “I believe it could impact positive change if it is not introduced as a trend but more of a normalised theme. If queerness is portrayed as the other and a novelty, that might reinforce gender binaries.”
Everything Vasilis does is rooted in his pure emotional connection to his craft. “It is a creative platform for me to convey my ideas so, in a way, it is a communicating tool.” He goes on to say, “my work is linked to my human experience so to be able to share that with the world feels very personal and cleansing.”
Vasilis shows no signs of stopping, with his mind set firmly in the future. “We have a lot of pending creative projects, currently working on a series of films and some editorials for the brand with other like-minded creatives.” Commercial success is something the designer strives for, stating “Additionally, we will be launching our e-store soon, and in the long run, my dream would be for the brand to be able to reach a broader audience and stay true to its message.” The path Vasilis walks is unbridled of worry, using the power of emotions to convey messages that speak on a much deeper level.