from Lenny’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection: Consume.Consumed
Lenny Pier Ramos is a film student turned fashion designer, originally hailing from Montreal. I talked to him about his time spent at the Academy in Antwerp, fashion films, and Canadians in fashion.
What made you switch from cinema to fashion?
I was very young and curious about a lot of things. I did not see any limitations, and moving from one discipline to another seemed very natural.
Do you have any interest in merging film and fashion? What do you think of the fashion films being made by both young designers and established brands right now?
That is a very interesting question. Fashion “films” are a very new phenomenon and result in the extreme democratization of digital video that occurred in the past years. Now almost any digital photo camera can shoot decent videos so photographers are free to experiment with that media without having to acquire any new material. To be very honest I do not know if that plays to their advantage. I have been seeing a lot of very boring, very mediocre so called “fashion films” from both young designers and bigger brands. Because of the rapidity of diffusion of information allowed and required by the web, people feel the need to produce a lot just to feed the machine and stay relevant, keep their name at the top of the blogroll. I would like to see people putting a bit more thought into it, a bit more thinking and a bit less focus on making things “look good”.
The application process to Royal Academy in Antwerp is challenging. Can you describe it a bit and tell me about your experience?
It feels a bit like these ballet auditions we see in the movies. There are a ton of people, everyone seems super talented and ready for a fight. People travel from every corner of the world to that little town just for a shot at getting into that school… It is a bit surreal.
What are the pros and cons of studying there?
That is a dangerous and very complex question that I get asked a lot and still have not found a way to answer. Let’s just say that there are a lot of pros and a lot of cons. At the end of the day it is what you make of it that matters.
The most important thing that you learned?
This school teaches you that if you work hard enough you can achieve the impossible. It is a very good lesson for life.
What aspect of your time there had the biggest effect on your work?
The truth is that it was a very lonely experience. I made amazing friends in Antwerp, but you are working so much, usually at home in your apartment. You are by yourself a lot so things can get really intense, especially if you are making a collection that comes from a dark place. But to answer your question, I made a very close friend there who opened my eyes to a lot of things and who has certainly influenced the way I look at things now.
Why do you think that Canadian, and specifically Montreal designers are getting a lot of attention right now? Do you have any favourites?
Are they? I can think of a few people who are doing well, but they have left Montreal and work on an international scale – you can’t really say that Canadian designers are having a moment, can you? In my opinion, there is certainly a lot of talent in Canada, but they need to build a network of people with the same vision. That network needs to rise to the top together: publications, agencies, editors, photographers, stylists, and designers, all helping each other make something happen. The actual visual landscape of fashion in Canada isn’t all that bright. I know that in Montreal some friends of mine are trying to change that with their creative agency Trusst club.
Often noticed in your collections are the textures and finishes of the materials you use. What part of a garment do you conceive first, the texture or the overall silhouette?
It really all comes as a whole. It is part of a general feeling, a vision, a mood, a state of mind. Sometimes things change as you experiment. For instance, at first I was hand-painting on velvet to try and create the right changes of shades I wanted in the clothes, but I ended up using very raw textured leathers instead, because they naturally had these beautiful changing surfaces.
What is more important to you, the process of creation or the final outcome?
I have to say the final outcome. The process can be very painful. I wonder if it will get better with time? You learn from the process, but you need a great outcome. Otherwise, you’ve failed at achieving something.
Where do you imagine yourself in five years?
I wouldn’t be surprised if I got bored by it all and opened a flower shop.
Top five favourite fashionable films?
Not so much for the clothes but for the attitude which is really what fashion is about for me:
Stalker by Tarkovsky
Accattone by Pasolini
Kids by Larry Clark
interview by Avyn Omel
photography by Michael Smits courtesy of LennyPierRamos.com