Friday, 19 August 2016

Laurent Favre-Victoire

| Personal |

| Seasons of Love - Rent |

Laurent was enthusiastic. I remember fresh-newbie-me coming into college all excited with all my new clothes and all my new stationeries ready. 2nd day of college and I was equally as pumped as the 1st day. Came into class super early, ready to meet this so called french lecturer who was said to be extremely strict. And when he came through the doors with his oxford shoes and button-up shirt, I thought you know "He doesn't look that bad". Indeed he was strict and stern, but he was also so extremely passionate and you can see that in him as he started teaching. I remembered taking out my notebook and jotting down all these notes because I was so excited just hearing what we were going to go through this whole semester. I remember thinking how awesome this course I am in, and how excited I am starting fashion designing and Laurent was the first lecturer I had met that made me that way. Laurent was no doubt extremely passionate and enthusiastic at his job, and never made me once not feel like he was giving 100% each time.

Laurent was a best-selling novel writer. Laurent had endless amounts of stories that he would tell from all his travel he has done across the globe, to the many interesting people he had met, to all the fashion shows he had to sneak in during Paris Fashion Week. He had such an interesting life, with all the colors in all the shades. One of his stories had always stuck in my mind which was when he had gone to some Island in the Mediterranean. This Island was famous for this mushrooms (that are legal there) that are some kind of drug that makes you high. And Laurent went up the mountain to try this drink but didn't know that it had these special mushrooms in them. Next thing you know it, he was walking down the mountain seeing all sorts of whirls and twirls. The other story that had stuck to my mind was once when he was still living in Paris, as a student he would sneak into fashion shows for Paris Fashion week. He would tell my class and I that he would have to go through kitchens and back doors and all sorts of different allies to get into the fashion show, which he then later on said was so worth it. I remember listening to all these stories of his, and just wish that one day I would be able to experience all these sort of experiences and one day be able to tell someone all the amazing experiences I've had, like how Laurent had amazing stories to tell me. I would always tell Laurent "What I would give to travel". And he would tell me "One day you will Rachel, don't you worry". Laurent was a writer, and his endless stories and amazing experiences just proves what an amazing life he had.

Laurent was supportive. I remember during my 1st semester, me being the newbie with so much adrenaline and excitement I wanted to do everything very well and was seeking for your approval. For one of my assignments, I had brought about 20 threads when we actually only needed one. A few months later, you remembered this and said to me "From the first day, I already kind of knew that you were going to be a good student and you are going to go far".  I remember when it was one of our last assignments, we had to paint this simple bag. I used a stencil to create the outline of a painting inspired by the art movement, Art Deco. I remember being extremely pleased with it, and as you walked pass you looked at it and said "Wow, that is so beautiful." And that was the first time you had ever gave any form of approval to any of my assignments. I remember being very pleased with myself that day. And after a few months that passed by, Laurent had never failed to make my class and I feel feel so encouraged constantly telling us each class how hard-working and passionate we are. He would always tell me "Don't ever doubt yourself Rachel, you never know what you are capable of" and "I love your sketchbook and the way you place your drawings, it's so beautiful and you are extremely creative". Laurent never failed to make me feel appreciated for everything that I did and constantly reminded me without me even asking. I don't think he ever really knew how much his encouragement meant to me. He was always there to make me feel better and I always knew that I had someone in Raffles that I know was always going to support me no matter what.

Laurent was underappreciated and misunderstood. He had a tough time moving to KL from France and went though many ups and downs. His sickness was not taken seriously and many people didn't realize how much of his life was so dedicated to teaching and he was often underappreciated for that.

Laurent had a great regard for my class. In every single one of our classes, Laurent would always say things like "Yeah, your group has always been a close knit group that are always together and I like that about you guys" and "I love working with you guys because there is no problem with you deadlines and you guys are amazing to work with". He would always talk about how he enjoyed teaching our class and that we are able to communicate very well. My classmates and I remembered the last time we had all talked to him altogether. We came into the sewing room and he was sewing one of his bags. As per usual, we would ask us what we are doing and we said we were preparing for our internship. And he said, "Oh yeah! You guys are going to love your internship! And next is your mini collection! I can't wait to see all of your mini collection." We had all expected him to be there to see our mini collections, because all we ever wanted was to make him proud. We never also ever really said how much we appreciated him and constantly encouraging us over and over again, even when we felt we couldn't do it. Laurent will definitely have a special place in FD 7.1 hearts forever. We are forever grateful that you thought us, especially in DRD (Design & Research) where we felt we bonded the most. I think I can speak for all of us which are Crystal, Kharen, Gladys and Alicia when I say that we appreciated all that you did for us, and all the nice things you have said to us. We would say all the exact same thing right back to you.

Laurent was an inspiration. If he had not graced his present into my life, this whole void of my knowledge and love in fashion and art history would be missing. Without his ridiculous stories of his travels, I wouldn't be hungry for adventure as I am right now. Without his passion for teaching everyday, I would not have achieved as much as I would have. Without his support and encouragement, I would have fallen more times than I didn't. Every time I think of school and my later future in fashion, there would always be this missing piece of Laurent that will be missing.

But Laurent would not have wanted us to be sad. He would have wanted life to be celebrated and wishes just as much for everyone to be happy. I will always flash back to the last time we spoke. It me and him and in the staff room. Its been a while since we last spoke, as I was so busy with my competition and my internship that we hardly got time to catch up. At that moment, I spent about an hour telling him everything from my whole class being chosen as the finalist into the Sakura Competiton, to details of my internship, and filling him in about all of my classmates and how they are doing with their life and internships as well. He was so delighted to hear from all of us and our well doing. I remember seeing him and thinking how skinny and sick he got. But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that he was going to go. If I have had that last conversation again, I would just thank him for all that he has done and tell him how much his encouragements meant to me. I had always planned on telling him when I graduate, but now that's far too late.

As Laurent is gone, he would always leave a huge mark in this part of my life that I will cherish forever. It was a pleasure to know him and be a part of his life. College will never be the same without him. I really hope he is in a better place right now, and finally be free from all the things he was chained up throughout his life. I felt like I needed to write this blog post, I felt like it was the least I could do. I feel like people need to know of this man, and how much he impacted so many lives or the least mine.  I hope he is looking down at me proudly, and realizing what a big important role he had in my life.

Rest in peace

Monday, 15 August 2016

Sakura Collection Asia Student Awards 2016

| Personal |

| 2faded - RVRB  |

The majority of the time coming up to this competition was what seemed to be so much longer than the day of the competition itself. I don't even know where all the time went during the competition. It was a full day, but it felt like 2 hours! Don't forget to play 2faded by RVRB while reading this. This song I would havee definitely pictured playing in the background when I play the documentary of this whole competition in my head.

It all started with an inspiration I found which was "Irezumi." Irezumi means japanese traditional tattoos. Then the process continued as I learned more about Irezumi and started sketching a few designs. The designs was later approved by my lecturer. After, my design was submitted with a few fabric swatches and my mood board. My mood board I had first started with my own drawing. Then, I used photo shop to add in the respective colors following the traditional Japanese colors. 

A few weeks later on the day of my birthday, my lecturer had posted up the 7 out of the 11 finalist moodboards that was chosen for the competition from my school. From there, I spotted my mood board. I was honestly shocked, and I did not expect to have gotten chosen. Its kind of like when you just work hard for everything you do, but in the end its just so normal for you to get failure and nothing in return. For me, I didn't expect to get anything back in return because I usually don't. That's why I was shocked. When I found out all my classmates were chosen as well, I was more settled as I know I am not alone in this whole thing.

The rest was definitely the dreaded part of this whole process. Buying the material, sending the coat for embroidery (which took 2 weeks), stitching the whole damn thing. This was also the first time that I had ever interpreted my own drawings into my garment. Which was surreal to see your creation on your other creation.

  It took everyday out of the 2 weeks I had to complete this garment. The next thing you know, it's photo shoot time! I found my model, Jean from a talent agency. Jean was so great, and I honestly could not have asked for a better model. Shout out to Jean for being so supportive! The pictures below are some of the photo shoot pictures that weren't chosen for the online voting. The chosen picture is the 3rd one.

At this point, I was basically done for one week. I could have just rested for a week, you know chill watch Netflix and visit more pet shops to see the doggies. But I really couldn't sleep knowing that as I looked at my garment, there was this huge part missing. I was so not satisfied. And so I sat at my table at 12 a.m. that night and started to sketch a few designs to add to this garment. I'm a bit mental, I can admit that.

And so I put myself through hell for a week. It was go time as I confirmed my design with my lecturer, drafted the whole garment, bought the fabric, zipper, fabric paint, fabric marker and everything needed to create a tight jumpsuit that I was going to add on the inside. After this whole thing, I was so glad to have done the jumpsuit. It was probably the best decision I had made, throughout this whole competition.

I spent the whole week in school working hard drafting, sewing then painting this jumpsuit. Thank goodness I had help from my lecturers Ronney, Aishah and Jojo Yap. Thanks bosses. You guys are real MVPs.

I created the jumpsuit using a stretch material, and then hand painted this whole thing with (very expesive) fabric paint. A fabric marker was used to outline the drawings, giving it that very tattoo like effect. I also used a tube paint, that is used to created a 3-D effect for the outline such like a irezumi would give a 3-D effect. The outcome, was beyond my expectations. 

And before you know it, it was the day of the competition. I had 3 hours of sleep the day before, as I was way too nervous. I had to do some last adjustments to complete the coat that night as well. The next day started when I met up with the rest of Raffles Clan on a very early Friday morning. Next, we met up with some of the organizers and had a short briefing and rehearsal. Next was hair and makeup. It took us about 5 hours to do hair and makeup (which was just enough thank God). I really don't know where did all the time went. It felt like I looked at my watch and we had 5 hours to go, and a minute later I looked at my watch and its 15 minutes till we have to go down.

I was so nervous you don't even know. I had the whole speech memorized in my head as I was reciting in my mind backstage. My whole family and friends were outside, which made things even more pressured. The time finally came as I squeezed Jean's hand one last time before she went strutting down the runway.

Only when I saw Jean walking down the runway did I realize that this was actually happening. That this whole thing leading up to "this", yeah "this" was happening right now. That "this" was going to be all over soon, and then just be a memory.

I went up onto stage for a short Q&A, and then the winners was announced. I didn't get the top 3, but I am so happy to hear that the 1st and 3rd place winner, were students from my school as well. And they all deserved it as much as I did.

I look back at this competition and have zero regrets. I honestly could not have done anything more. I tried my very best and I am proud of my creation that came down the runway. Only when I saw Jean in my creation that I realized how real it is. Its easy as a designer to sketch clothes on a piece of paper, but when an idea you had in your mind is being created into legit pieces of clothing? It feels kind of surreal that this whole garment was all done by me. Its a proud feeling that I don't feel very often, but for once I do feel proud of what I had done. 

I also realized how many supportive friends and family I had around. For all my friends who came down all the way from Kuching to support me, to my parents who bought everything I needed for this competition, to my grandparents who voted for me. Its an overwhelming support I never knew I could receive so much from the people I surround myself with. I am so lucky to have so much love. Thank you so much to you guys man. I can cry happy tears just thinking of this. 

It was a day that is definitely a milestone in the life of Rachel Phan. It was my first official fashion show. This was the first I had ever worked with a model and a make-up artist. This was the first I had my garment ever going through with a real photo shoot. This had all settled as memories that I leave with little bits of sparkle in the back of my mind, I silently think of everyday.

I realized a lot of things going through this competition. I realized how grateful I should be for having crazy amount of support coming from my family and friends who spent time sending the link for the voting to their friends, to pass it on to their friends. 

But most of all, I realized how real it is pursuing fashion. You don't really get that hit wave of realization when you first get into something. Like you know, when you sign up for studying across the globe but it doesn't hit you until maybe the day before leaving home. Going through with this competition made me realize how real I am pursuing fashion. Even through all the assignments of creating many different garments and sewing all kinds of garments. Even through making my first button hole, or touching a sewing machine. Even when my friends keep telling me, "That's so great! You are finally pursuing your dream!".  It never really hit me that I'm on this insane ride, actually doing what I wanted to do for so long, finally pursuing my profession.

This is probably the first I had ever written about anything related to what I am currently pursuing. Hopefully there are more good stories to come. Cheers to working hard, going lengths, to pushing limits, finding our meaning and most of all, pursuing whatever our purpose is meant to be on this Earth. 

Rachel Khloe Phan