Spotlight Interview: Life And Death With David C. Wigley

David C. Wigley (left) and Dylan Uscher (right) at FAT 2012

David C. Wigley has been making waves. The designer’s Worth collection, a menswear line focused on progressive designs and eco-friendly fabrics, strutted the runway at Fashion & Arts Toronto 2012 in a collaboration with knitwear designer Dylan Uscher, and relaunched this Spring. BALLnROLL caught up with Wigley to ask him about his collection, his sensibilities and the future of menswear.

BALLnROLL: What is the theme of your Worth collection?

David C. Wigley: The general theme of this season’s collection is life and death. It was broken up into three different feelings, opening the show with death–heavy shrouded looks, a lot of distressed and frayed qualities, bulky and full of layers. The second part was re-birth–lighter softer looks and colours in creams and gold, airy silhouettes and fabrics and a general lightness.

Then the third look was life; bright and loud, sharply tailored and that incredible custom designed print for Worth by local photographer/graphic designer Gio Petrucci.

How would you describe your sensibilities in fashion design, especially in terms of menswear?

I like to push the boundaries a bit. Menswear is still a very unexplored territory, most menswear designers like to keep it really safe. That was always my favorite part about womenswear, but it was too easy to do what everyone else was doing, because everything has been done for ladies. With that said, I still like to keep my work commercial and wearable, and experiment more with prints and textures and silhouettes.

Ukamaku describes your collection as fashion-forward. What does that term mean to you?

Fashion-forward to me describes clothing that pushes the boundaries of the norm and gives you interesting pieces before the trends. It’s about clothing that’s a bit more unexpected and interesting.

A lot of menswear right now is focusing on black, white and grey. Where do you feel this fixation on monochrome comes from?

I think that is most designers’ base colour pallete. It’s easier to get people on board with an idea when it’s something they can relate to. Everyone can fit a black, white or grey piece into their own wardrobe or everyday outfit without having to give it too much thought. I always design in black and white and grey and build on that with subtle hints of colour through print. Even though I rarely wear black, I know it’s the most relateable colour and sometimes the most interesting when creating certain silhouettes.

There was a lot of Scottish influence in the show at FAT. Where did the Scottish influence (tartan, capes, etc.) in Worth come from? What were you hoping to say with the integration of it into your work?

That’s funny because it was never intended to have that look/feel. But I am Scottish so I guess it’s just in my blood. I didn’t even really notice it had that feel ’til months later and looking back at the runway shots and I was kinda like, hmm… okay… cool, I like that.

I really just wanted the feeling of big heavy capes, and I’ve always really been into tartans. One day I’ll use my own for a piece, but it’s really expensive getting a clan tartan in yards and yards of fabric.

The patterned tuxedos, and the tux with the patterned leggings shown at FAT were among the most interesting of your pieces. They were almost deconstructed tuxedos. What were you trying to say with these pieces?

I’m not someone who wears suits, or really even owns a suit, and the suit/tux have been done to death. However, it was still something I wanted to play with. I wanted to make a more interesting men’s formal sort of look. Ladies have all the scope in the world of choosing a ‘red carpet’ look, but men really just only get to choose the label and lapel; otherwise it’s a black tux.

I wanted to create a bit more of a variety and stand-out sort of looks. There was a time when men got to be the peacock at social functions, and not just the ladies, and I’d like to go back to there.

The use of colour in your Worth collection is interesting. How do you incorporate colour into your designs?

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t usually like to design in colour, but inject it through pattern. I love loud abstract patterns, and with the access to laser printed fabric I now have, it’s really opened up a realm of possibilities for me. The pattern on black or white really lets the pattern speak for itself and not get lost in an overwhelming look. I’m doing a small Spring/Summer 2013 collection and I’m thinking about designing some pieces in colour. Let’s see how that works out.

Who are some of your influences?

The late great Alexander McQueen.

What is the menswear designer scene like in Toronto?

The menswear design scene is pretty flat in Toronto. There is really only a small handful of menswear designers doing anything new and exciting in design, so it’s hard to comment.

What’s in the future for David C. Wigley?

I’m looking into taking a year to study at Parsons in New York and learn some of the new skills and techniques, i.e how to do everything on the computer. When I was in college, computers weren’t such a big deal and nobody thought that they would replace good old paper and pencil, but 2012 arrived and they have, so now I need to catch up on the times. Also I’d like to take a small break from Toronto and see whats out there, and get myself more exposure. The attention I have received in Toronto is amazing and I’m so flattered but I need to get out to more eyes.

What do you think is in store for menswear in the near future and why?

I think menswear is starting to take a turn to the more fashionable. One only needs to turn to retailers such as H&M with their ground-breaking “Man Trend” label, featuring pieces for men like kilts and dhoti pants, sequin covered t-shirts and lacey open work knits. Retailers are starting to get that men want more then just suits, pants, shirts. That’s boring. Men are tired of being bored of fashion. There is a good reason why most men hate to shop. 


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