French-born designer Sabine Ducasse has spent the last four years in China, virtually living IFA Paris’ theme for this year’s fashion show, ‘East Meets West.’ Her collection, aptly titled The Melting Pot, explores an amalgamation of two disparate cultures, and the liminal result is far more dynamic than the ‘uniform hybrid’ she had envisioned.  Her kaleidoscopic aesthete, unified by a breathtaking mosaic print, evokes a harmonious fusion of opposites where French design techniques, such as couturier style plissés, compliment structured jackets and corsets made from melted plastic and wire molds. Ducasse’ interpretation of the spiritual meeting between East and West won her first prize at IFA Paris’ tenth annual fashion show last Wednesday May 31st in Shainghai.  We took a behind the scenes look into her preparation of the winning collection. 

Full Name: Sabine Ducasse

Age: 28

Place of birth: France

What does this year's theme 'East Meets West' mean to you?

I was very happy with the theme this year because I already planned to do something in connection with China and with my own roots. Having spent the last four years in China, I thoughtthat my final collection must speak about it, so I couldn't have been more pleased when they gave us the topic!

What inspired your collection?

My collection was inspired by this idea of a spiritual meeting between East and West, as nowadays you don't need to travel physically anymore "to meet" because of technology.All ofthose different visions and clichés, or true and untrue speculations about each other are mixing together to form the title of my collection,The Melting Pot. I always smile to see that my family and friends in France already had a clear idea about China and Chinese people because often this vision is a Utopia and very untrue.

Can you tell us a little bit about it?

“The Melting Pot” is a metaphor describing the way inwhich societies with a heterogeneous base grow togetherand learn to live together despite their cultural and religious differences. When combined, they are supposed to phase out their own characteristics toadopt a final form, a uniform hybrid, distinct from eachof their roots. I worked on melted plastic pieces molded around the body that represents the hybridization, and thisuniform shell that form around the body. It became only one seamless piece as a metaphor ofrebirth and new identity.

But, the idea of merging images in one uniform seamless piece also creates a paradox.The melting pot is not only merging peoples and ideas in the same mold, but also assimilating those ideas and images to form a feeling of multiculturalism in the construction of a new aesthetic from this mixture.

My prints translate that idea of "the salad bowl," the new term for melting pot, and are represented as an infinity of images coming together in a kaleidoscope that invadesthe whole body and mind.

What has been difficult about the design process?

I would say the whole process is difficult. You get to do a collection only once, so I was constantly asking myself if I was going in the right direction or if I was making the right choices… it is difficult to be confident when you are so deeply immersed into one idea during those months. I also tried to work with experimental techniques on the plastic and it was very difficult to find the good way to do it. I tried and tried again. I would redo pieces again until I was satisfiedbecause I think you can always improve your work and do better, but then sometimes it seems endless…

What has surprised you the most?

I didn't think the schedule wouldbe so tight as we realize only three silhouettes for the show, but if you want to do it well and challenge yourself it is so much work!Time runs out very fast, so you have to learn to organize yourself.

How have your professors helped you throughout?

My teachers were there when I was in doubt, reassuring me a lot. It really helped to gain an objective perspectivefrom them, in order continue and improve my collection.

Can you describe your collection in five words?

Cultures clashing, melting, merging, mixing, colliding, synthesizing, 

challenging, threatening, complementing. 

You created a video to accompany your mood board.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I decided to use this media to reflect my concept, as the meeting is not always physical or static but also comes from perceived images that you get from the media (internet , tv, etc). I then thought that a video of all those images ( perceived, real, or dreamed) express better this idea of spiritual melting pot and culture merging.

Plus, today in 2012 all big houses are using videos to show their inspiration for the new collection so I think it is very important as a student to live within our current time and to use media that touches everybody.

How were the final moments preparing for the show? Did everything go as planned?

The final moments preparing for the show were difficult – I was working on details until the very last minute, and of course you always get some surprises with your clothes, as each model is different and you have to adapt the clothes to her body until the last moment.

How do you feel to have won the annual fashion show?

Of course I was very happy about the outcome on the show. I finally got to see my designs come to life and it was really great sensation. The fact that I won was really overwhelming because I had worked really hard to put everything together and to propose something new. I would say that the best recompense for me was to be satisfied with what I had done when I saw it on the runway; the award of course showed me recognition from the jury, but I know it is only the beginning. I still have a lot to do and a lot to prove in the future, so I am eager to move to the next step: to start a career in fashion!