Can you introduce your brand and yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Riley Phillips. My brand, Riley Phillips Art, is a fashion, photography, and fine art brand, so when it comes to my designs, I’m heavily influenced by the relationships between different artistic media and intersecting, often figurative, embellishment. My designs focus on color, texture, and flow to maintain an artistry and wearability, while also inciting a confidence, wanderlust, and sensuality in the wearer. Personally, I have been involved in the arts for as long as I can remember, be it drawing, photography, or sculpture, though I began my self-taught ventures in fashion just last year. I am currently pursuing my undergraduate degree in Studio Art + German at Wake Forest University, where I try to incorporate fashion into my studies as often as I can.
What sparked your interest in fashion design?
My background in sculpture and photography led me to fashion. Through my experience in the visual arts, I sculpted wearable art out of unconventional materials, often fashion magazines, and led editorial photo shoots. Naturally, being around fashion through these other artistic media sparked an interest and manifested appreciation, and after completing my sculptural fashion collection, I began teaching myself how to sew. Fashion has provided me with a unique form of artistry in that I can express my inspirations with a delicate and functioning form, while also maintaining a complementary and expressive relationship with my audience and other creative disciplines.
Can you describe your creative process?
I often begin with an unexpected source of inspiration, usually sourced through travel or exploration in other art and environments. Once I see someone or something unusual or enticing, I dissect the texture, form, and shape of this inspiration to explore how it and my relationship to it could be physically expressed. In clarifying my inspiration, I take detailed photos to centralize and specify the concentration, then referencing these photos and moodboards, I begin to sketch my designs. Once my designs are sewn, fitted, and finished, I stage a lookbook photo shoot to allow the piece to come full circle with the inspiration—putting the design in an environment cohesive to that in which it was first explored.
What is your favourite part of being a designer? What drives you to design?
My favorite part of being a designer is the interdisciplinary relationships with art. Fashion has allowed me to fully express my ideas and observations in a sculptured discipline, which I can share with others in varying media. Through design, I can share my own unique vision while further complimenting the insights of another. My desire to continually create, connect, and share art drives me to design.
How do you find working as a designer where your brand is based? Has the culture/surroundings affected your design aesthetic? Do you feel connected to your home?
My brand is currently based in Orlando, FL; however, I have moved around for most of my young life. Having lived a fairly nomadic life, I have found most of my inspiration in my travels– the cultures and surroundings which are most foreign and promising of excitement and new experiences. The promise of the unknown and the allure of a new environment keeps me creatively active. Because my home is always changing, I feel most connected to the people who surround me, who always encourage me and respect my ideas.
In anticipation of your runway show at Vancouver Fashion Week, what are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to experiencing the professionalism of the show and event and engaging with people from other backgrounds and cultures. As an emerging and self-taught designer, my involvement in the industry has been more local. I am excited to experience the routines and showmanship of fashion, sharing my art and designs with other talented creatives.
What is the inspiration behind your S/S20 collection to be showcased at Vancouver Fashion Week?
My collection is inspired by my time in Venice, Italy and the art, architecture, and unique environments I encountered while there.
What are you hoping are the reactions from audiences seeing your designs (perhaps for their first time)?
With my emphasis on sensuality, wearability, and interdisciplinary reference to art and travel, I hope audiences connect with the confidence and artistry I aim to express in my designs.
Thank you for speaking with us, Riley. We look forward to seeing your brand on the VFW runway this October.