Google+ WHAT'S ALEXANDRA WARING?: Behind the Scenes with Nikita Karizma- Designer on The X Factor

Behind the Scenes with Nikita Karizma- Designer on The X Factor

Sunday, 8 September 2013

With the new season of The X Factor once again gracing our screens, I had the privilege of catching up with one of their newest designers and collaborators, Nikita Karizma. Karizma graduated from The London College of Fashion in 2011 wherein she was handpicked and commissioned to design the outfits for the 2011 finals of The X Factor, dressing the likes of Little Mix and Amelia Lily. Here she tells us how she she got the job, what it's like working in the industry and her plans for the future...

As you have a background in Fashion (both parents being buyers), was there ever any doubt about what you would do? Have you always wanted to go into fashion? And what would you do if you couldn’t have studied it at Uni?

Being immersed into the creative world I have always been appreciative of the arts.  Growing up I experienced buying, the retail environment, web development, styling fashion shows and even styling celebrities like the Sugababes!  It came naturally to me having had so much experience so it was great to study and train in the industry for university.  I did consider going for a Maths degree- that was my alternative path and natural skill-set. 

Would you still encourage people to take fashion courses in the current economic climate?

The industry isn’t easy.  The system of the industry whittles down creatives sharply at every stage, the job opportunities are scarce and not as well paid as other industries.  I would encourage students to get as much experience as they can in summer holidays before embarking on a design degree as there is also a high dropout rate on university courses, the reality of the work is different to the glamorous dream people are often drawn to.  If you do have talent, a hard drive, lots of experience, your own style, are professional and business minded there is always a place in the market for you, London celebrates young talent.

Your previous collections have shown features that are very on trend this season including buckles, PVC, contouring and studs. Are your particularly inspired by the punk movement?

I am inspired by the word ‘Rebellion’ which also represents the punk movement.  The punk movement has a strong influence to the undercurrent of London so it is a subconscious influence for me.  I love creating clothes and pieces that have something to say, to inspire and that is very unique, a fashion statement!  During university I was also inspired by Vivienne’s Westwood history which was a strong influence directly into the punk movement.

I found your range Fashion vs. Abuse very poignant- would you say that fashion is the key to a woman’s confidence and feeling safe?

Fashion, clothes, styling and dressing up in different shapes and colours invokes different moods and says a lot about you as a person.  It definitely can uplift your confidence, as for feeling safe I would advise girls to stay street smart and not be accepting of domestic violence.  I created clothes that make your shoulder’s stand up confidently after interviewing a policeman, he explained to me how the way a person walks says a lot about their confidence and attackers take note of it.   

Your ‘Abuse, Alert, Locate’ accessory is a fantastic concept (a fashion accessory that emits a GPS signal to an emergency contact in your phone in the event of an emergency): you do plan on trying to market these more extensively?

I would love to!  If I came across the right technology company that were willing to back my idea and work with me on the technology side of the concept it would be brilliant to take the concept further and help to crack down on attacks and abusive incidents.

Your work with The X Factor and consequently, the contestants must have been surreal! What’s it like working with ‘overnight’ celebrities and how much input do they get into what you design for them?

Surreal sums it up!  It was a beautiful experience and to see my clothes in movement on stage.  I am very inspired by music and naturally think about clothes being in a performance so felt blessed to work with the entertainment industry straight out of university.  It is very much a collaborative process between the celebrity, stylist, management and myself, as well as the judges, choreographer and TV producers for the X Factor! A celebrity wants to feel comfortable on stage so reflecting her personality is the best way for them to shine at their best so each design is very much a geared up for them.

Did you design your outfits around specific concepts for the X Factor or were you given free-reign to design in line with your own interests?

Laury Smith the head of the X Factor styling team requested the clothes based on my designs in specific colours, sizes to match the performance.  The fabrics, colours, shapes and sketches were sent back and forth until it was finalised.  It is such a high profile show especially the finals it was really great for me to see the details of the production, every button and thread were styled to perfection by Laury, she is a creative genius.  

Trends seem to be following the saying ‘the bigger the better’ at the moment, in terms of embellishments, pushing stereotypical boundaries etc. What would you predict to see on this year’s X Factor in terms of fashion trends, having previously worked with the show?

The X Factor fashion is driven a lot by the personalities of the contestants and they have the most cutting-edge styling team in the world.  Laury Smith the head of X Factor wardrobe is also Nicole Scherzinger’s personal stylist so you can imagine the level of fashion on the show.  It is definitely the show of the country that will be pushing the boundaries not only in fashion but the production of the performance, choreography, graphics, special effects, hair and makeup and fabulous vocals!

One of your most recent collaborations was with DYLON Colour Catcher- a novelty perhaps for a fashion designer!
I joined forces with DYLON® COLOUR CATCHER® in March when I was asked to design a dress made solely out of the Colour Catcher sheets for TV presenter, Tess Daly. The mermaid shape dress, which took over 100 hours to make, adopts a structured corset style, with top bodice boning and buckles on the bust made up of the stiffened sheets. The lower half of the dress takes on a scalloped, tiered layer structure which builds up the striking voluminous hem.

Where did you get the inspiration for the dress that you created and how did you tie-in the Colour Catcher sheets?  Will you be expanding this style of dress in your new collection?

The inspiration was from my buckled tutu dress as well as a mermaid.  I really love accentuating the female hips as a powerful statement and enjoyed playing with ruffles on the skirt.  It was a real mix match of design elements and techniques to create it but it worked really well together, all made out of over 500 Dylon Colour Catcher sheets and Tess Daly looked absolutely gorgeous in the dress.  It was creatively a beauty to work on and the Dylon team are lovely.

Speaking on set in March, Tess Daly said: “Like every fashion conscious woman, I love my clothes and it’s important to me that I keep them looking good. I see fashion as an investment and there’s nothing worse than your favourite red dress or black jeans fading in the wash. By using DYLON® COLOUR CATCHER® Double Action I know that that my favourite fashion fixes are going to stay brighter, for longer. You can see from Nikita’s beautiful dress just how much colour these sheets can catch - these were once completely colourless!”

I really enjoyed the accompanying video behind the dress-making process, and what a process it is! Do you think it’s important for designers and consequently, fashion houses to show behind the scenes of the fashion industry (as is becoming more popular with the rise of social media)?

It varies from designer to designer.  I know that Christopher Kane doesn’t even have a website whilst other designers like Burberry stream there fashion week shows live to their consumers.  I filmed this process because it was very unique turning these paper-like Colour Catcher sheets into a beautiful gown and wanted to show the Dylon fans the transformation of such a basic essential item.  Personally I will continue to share pieces & snippets of the creative process however keep other aspects private.

 I see that you’re also working hard on releasing a ready-to-wear collection in October. Can you tell us anything about it?

Yes!  It is exciting and long overdue to launch my first range since leaving university in 2011.  I have created stage pieces including corsets, accessories and harnesses for the entertainment industry.  Ready to wear garments for women include trousers, t shirts, vest dresses, baseball jackets, dresses, harnesses and digital printed garments.  I will also have the clothes available to buy at including pieces that fans can buy worn by their favourite celebrities.  

Nikita will be holding a Q&A session this Friday (13th September) at 1pm, on the Dylon Catcher Catcher Facebook page. Please join in if you are a budding fashion designer, or have any questions about the industry.

Follow her on Facebook | Twitter | Her Website

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