Self Titled is unfeigned, effortless chic. It speaks of simple classic elegance with discreet sensuality; played out on a platform that reflects expression and experimentation with plans of leatherwear, accessories and eventually footwear.
Self Titled designer Tulia Wilson creates pieces with longevity. Designed with women like her friends in mind, her pieces integrate easily into one’s wardrobe and transcend over time, allowing the wearer to add their own personality and interpretation to the garment.
Fresh off the plane from a snowboarding trip to Japan, Tulia graciously granted me some time of her own to speak of collaboration, fashion’s use of new media, and the way your heart flutters when you meet someone who really gets you.
Who is the Self Titled woman?
She is exactly that; a woman of her own making. A strong individual, she is intriguing, vivacious, intelligent, exciting. She dresses to please herself, in an unexpected, distinctive, effortless yet sensual way.
Your collection features an incredible array of textures from suede to lurex; what inspires you to make use of such diverse fabrics?
I have always been inspired by textures. I have just returned from an annual snowboarding trip to Japan and I am in awe of the incredible way that the Japanese manipulate the textures in nature to create beautiful objects; a piece of rock or a slice of bamboo is elevated to an almost divine status by the careful, reverential handling of these materials.
I certainly don’t claim to achieve anything like this, but textures in fabric are a bit like that for me. I prefer to play with juxtaposition and experiment with combinations of different materials together. The old adage ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ is what I am striving towards.
You spent fifteen years at Zambesi working across many aspects of the fashion business from retail to merchandising, marketing, show production and on to eventual creative direction of the company; what was the most challenging aspect of your role?
I loved my time at Zambesi. I was so fortunate to be given the freedom to learn so many skills. I feel it has stood me in very good stead. Probably the most challenging aspect was to keep such an established business at the forefront of the NZ fashion industry for so many years. While establishing the creative direction from a design perspective was such a fun process, and fairly effortless to be honest, the work was really to manage tight budgets to find new and innovative ways to profile the brand; ensuring it was always a step ahead of what our competitors were up to and that we were continuing to innovate and to prove season after season that Zambesi’s position as New Zealands most directional design house was justified. I believe it is much harder to do this for an established label than it is for a young brand.
You have worked on creative projects for labels such as Konstantina Mittas alongside super stylist Pip Edwards; do you believe collaboration is the key to success as a designer?
Not necessarily. I appreciate how well collaborations work for some designers, and how recent combinations of high end brands and designers who have generated collections for mass market retailers can indeed result in an expansion of their profile and market share. But for me, it is just important to stay true to the work that you do. I believe that if the collaboration comes naturally and is mutually beneficial then it can be an amazing opportunity. I do love working with my friends, and that is why I seized the opportunity to work with Pip as she and I have a lot of fun working together.
What are your thoughts on fashion’s use of new media?
I think that new media is an extraordinarily powerful tool for the fashion industry. Look at how well talents such as Alexander McQueen used new media technology. The egalitarian nature of the internet means that a young designer can profile themselves as effectively as an established brand if they choose to do so. The rise of blogs and street fashion on the internet is a very important influence on many designers, and raises the bar of fashion as a whole.
However, because of the saturation of imagery and then immediacy of it, people now have a short attention span and get bored quickly. It is still important to celebrate the craftsmanship of fashion; to take the time and understand what goes into making every garment.
The Self Titled brand identity features a striking logo; what was the inspiration for the design?
The design was the brainchild of the very talented Mr Jonathan Zawada. I sat down and had a lengthy conversation with him about what I loved about fashion, and what I loathed. I talked about texture and colour, and how I felt it was a little boring that so much fashion identity was often black and white. We also discussed all sorts of things that had nothing to do with fashion. Then I left him to it. The result you see is how he interpreted me. It was very exciting to have somebody create something specifically for me. I think it is the first time in my life that I have had that experience; it is amazing when somebody really ‘gets you’. I wanted an identity that stood on its own, and that could develop its own personality over time.