Interview Conducted By Kelsey Duchesne
In preparing for our fashion show INTERSECTION 2016, we approached designer San Pham and asked if she would create a collection for our models/performers. The catch? The clothing had to be all white, and it needed to showcase our THINX underwear. We knew it was no easy task, but in the right hands, it could be done beautifully. San nailed it.
Our lead designer at THINX, M.Y. Nguyen, met Pham at Parsons, and knew she was the right designer for our show.
"I'm super picky with young fashion designers, and didn't truly believe in the fashion industry until I met San in Parsons. Her perspective on the art world is fascinating and her designs are so unique," M.Y. said. "She is a very decisive human being and an amazing collaborator, while knowing how to stand her ground once it comes to designs. When Miki asked for a fashion show, I knew that I would never want to commit if San was not the designer. I very much trust not only her taste but also her aesthetics."
We talked to our incredible designer about how she created the collection, what inspires her, and what "I'm Every Woman" (aka the motto of INTERSECTION 2016/a Whitney classic) means to her as a designer.
What initially prompted your interest in design?
I have loved drawing and doodling since childhood, and clothing was my favorite subject to draw! This little hobby of mine somehow turned into my identity growing up. When I went to college, I became even more fascinated about fashion and how it gives people the ability to change and highlight personas. As a designer, I am allowed to dream up the ultimate women, the women who loves how they look, powerful and does not afraid to be different.
When THINX initially came to you with the task of creating clothing that showcased the underwear, what was your initial reaction?
I'm not going to lie, I was hesitant because I didn't think my design style would be a good fit showcasing underwear (I initially assumed THINX was expecting angel wings and lots of dainty lace, like other underwear shows). However, being a long-time THINX follower, I knew they would have something interesting in mind-- I was curious.
When I sat down with Miki and discussed the project, she further explained how she wanted to showcase THINX underwear without objectifying the models. The show is not only for THINX to showcase about their underwear but they also have something meaningful to say, and I was intrigued. What THINX was going for was completely new to me, and I thought "I have to be a part of this"!
What inspired the collection you created for INTERSECTION 2016?
I love the idea of creating clothing to frame the underwear. When you think about underwear in fashion show, you may immediately think sexiness, perhaps girls in five inch heels with tiny bits of clothing. I wanted to do the complete opposite of that; I wanted to put more clothes on the models while showcasing the underwear.
That's when the idea of X-Ray vision came to mind--the models could look completely dressed, but almost as if an X-Ray focused on their underwear area. I love the contrast between being fully dressed and undressed--it feels daring.
What was your favorite look of the evening?
This is a very tough question to answer, it's like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! It's impossible to pick! Every look is specifically made to each individual in the show, that's what make the process so interesting. I came up with a specific look for each person, so I can definitely say that each look in the show is my favorite look on that particular person.
What do you hope people take away from this collection?
I hope people can look at underwear shows differently. Sex doesn't always sell, originality sells too!
At the beginning of INTERSECTION 2016, Niki Morrissette sang I'm Every Woman by Whitney Houston. Do you believe, in fashion, a collection can represent every woman?
In general, fashion shows do not represent every woman. Models only represent one body type, but women come in all shapes and forms. As an industry insider, I understand the need to have a show with one body type, because it would cost way too much time and money to create clothes for different shapes while making them fit well. That and the demand to meet fashion schedule make it extremely difficult.
However, as a five foot two woman with a pear shape body, it is hard to relate with what being shown on the fashion shows. The fashion industry has a long way to go in terms of being inclusive. I hope that with brands like THINX making a difference, other brands will follow suit, and collection can represent every woman will no longer be an idea, but a reality.