After a Gorgeous Graduate Collection “The Melting Pot” at her graduate fashion school IFA Paris, Sabine Ducasse is Featured in Vogue Italia, debuts collection in Shanghai, and lands gigs in London, Paris and NYC.
“I found out on Facebook!” There are many things you simply don’t want to first find out about in your newsfeed: an old flame’s perfect proposal, good friends splitting up, or maybe discovering your new BFF has completely crazy political views.
Being named one of Vogue Italia’s “Emerging Designers to Watch” is not one of them.
For 2012 graduate Sabine Ducasse, finding out about that the Milan-based edition of the international fashion bible had anointed her as one to watch was the good kind of social-network surprise.
“I’m very happy about it,” says Ducasse from Shanghai. “It’s amazing.”
Vogue had requested student portfolios and pics through IFA after graduation in the summer, but once Ducasse submitted her designs she never heard back. “I thought they didn’t choose anyone,” she says. Then the comments section came to the rescue. “It’s funny because if I didn’t see on Facebook that I was in Vogue, I never would have known about it. They didn’t even call me or send me a copy!” Being based in Shanghai, Ducasse hadn’t seen the feature until friends started congratulating her online.
That’s not to say she hadn’t already received accolades and attention for her graduate collection. For the “East Meets West” show, Ducasse debuted bold and beautiful patterns by melting pliable Perler beads into the most stylish armor one could hope for to face the modern world. Titled “The Melting Pot,” the result was not only an IFA win by the French-born, Shanghai-based designer, but resulted in features on top tech blog Wired for her innovative use of materials, and love from bloggers around the world. The collection was featured across the globe, and fashion blogger MilaLouLou called her collection: “An incredible mix of retro computer gaming, pixels, super heroes and stage costume. She takes fashion to a new level.”
Ducasse was slightly shocked by that attention as well. “It made a big impact,” she says. “A lot of blogs have posted about it, or asked if it can be in their magazines, or ‘liked’ the images.” Indeed the stunning collection is a fan favorite on Pinterest.
After her collection appeared at the IFA Shanghai student show, she was approached by a Netherlands-based production company to work with them as a freelance designer on a new evening gown line. Though the company works with top brands internationally, this will be their first in-house label. It's still officially under wraps, but the brand will debut with a stand-alone store on Shanghai’s famous Nanking Road – the most popular shopping destination in the city – late next month.
Designing independently for a client taught Ducasse the importance of taking others’ input under advisement whilst staying true to her own vision. “At first I tried too much to please the client, but eventually I realized that they had asked me to design for them, that they wanted something creative, something I could offer, and wanted to see my approach,” she says. “My vision was important and that is why they wanted me, so after about a month it was easy to find a balance.” In her designs, Ducasse was able to bring a European contemporary sensibility to the gowns, making them appropriate for elegant evening wear but avoiding the bling bling and bedazzling Shanghai fashion can often succumb to. Overall the experience taught her about the production process as well, as she was able to choose fabrics and work with the production houses in China.
After years at IFA and in Shanghai, Sabine’s off on a global aesthetic excursion, interning and immersing herself in the great design houses of the world. First on the itinerary: an internship at Alexander McQueen in London.
Ducasse discovered the position while searching online, and answered without hoping she’d ever hear back. “I was thinking, ‘I will never be chosen anyway, but if I don’t try I will never find out.’” She hit send, and the very next day she received a reply from the head of the print department. They liked her portfolio and requested more examples of her printmaking skills. Instead of sending through retreads from school or other projects, Ducasse took the extra step of designing specialty prints for the company to show her interest in the position and devotion to uniqueness. “I decided to work through the weekend making prints especially for Alexander McQueen so they could really see if I would fit in their team or not. I also thought it would be better to do something especially for them with their logo on it to show my motivation and love for the brand rather than just sending some prints I already had.”
“I think the designers appreciated the attention because the next day, I got an email saying I was in and I should come as soon as possible!” Ducasse is now in the process of moving to London to begin at maison McQueen before December starts. “I’m packing as fast as I can. It happened very very fast and now the pressure is on!” The excitement and exposure is only beginning.
Because – as the saying goes – when it rains it pours. Ducasse has also lined up a spot at Jeremy Scott in New York next July and is in negotiations with Balmain in Paris to join their team in between turns in the fashion capitals. She’ll be house-hopping with the global greats through 2013.