MAFAD Graduation 2016: Ilona Simons

One To Watch from Fashionclash Festival Maastricht 2016. It´s graduation season and one of my favourite graduation menswear collections comes this year from Ilona Simons. Like each year the students from the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design presented their final collection to the international press and fashion lovers. Her menswear collection is on point. Well made and I would love to buy it now! Read below my interview with one of the talents from Maastricht. 

I am, a menswear designer, who is totally in love with making mens clothing

Name: Ilona Simons / Age: 23 / Hometown: Maastricht /Menswear or Womenswear: Menswear / Social media: Instagram


Hello. Welcome to KALTBLUT. Why have you decided to participate at FASHIONCLASH Festival?
IS: When you graduate from MAFAD you’ll get the chance, when your work is good enough to show your work at the Fashionclash festival. It’s a great chance for us as young designers to present ourselves and our work for the first time to a big audience. We worked all very hard on our collections to present ourselves also in our best way!


Can you tell us something about the collection you presented at the FASHIONCLASH Festival 2016? What was your inspiration?
IS: For my graduation collection I was inspired by a story about a man who never wanted to fit in. He created his own style of dressing. His way to show pride for his body and his roots. It’s not about being a fashionable guy, it’s about him finding his way to express himself as a masculine modern man in today’s society.

What kind of material did you used for the collection?
IS: For me as a designer it Is always very important that my clothing have a luxury feel, and are unique. I used a lot of fabrics that already have a luxury feel and look, like mohair, wool, silk, and further develop these fabrics by adding different techniques to make it my own. Creating my own textiles with the stripe story in the back of my head, taking out threads, screen printing, adding topstitches, or using stripes with different techniques in all of my developed knits. All to give the materials and the whole look of the collection and even more luxury feel.


What challenges did you face during the design process?
IS: I found out that certain materials do ask for more experience. But it was never something that I saw as impossible. Sometimes it took me longer to complete a piece, but I always did it with a lot of love and passion

How would you describe your self and your work?
IS: I’m inspired by the possibilities in menswear. I am grateful for having the knowledge to create quality menswear attire. The technical side of developing a collection will always remain a big influence in my work as a designer. I love to make my own materials and give my collection a graphic but minimalistic influence. My designs stay clean and simple, but it brings me joy to add a detail to every garment that makes an items more special as well more functional.


Tell us about your journey that led you to this point.
IS: Since my childhood I always have been busy with making clothing, but I never expected I would become a menswear designer, and that it would be so much fun!! It certainly hasn’t been an easy choice, I had no experience at all regarding menswear.  But I do like challenges, and I never give up! If everything in life would be easy, it would also get boring. So here I am, a menswear designer, who is totally in love with making mens clothing!

What would you say this is the biggest influence to your design process?
IS: The way men dress themselves, choices they make regarding their clothing. I think it always so inspiring how men make certain choices for clothing, and how they combine items together. It’s not about following trends, its all about personal style.

If you had not become a fashion designer, what would you do instead?
IS: This is probably one of the hardest questions I ever had to answer, since I couldn’t think of me doing something else. I do remember when I was 12 I wanted to become a heart surgeon, until the moment I fainted from blood. So, I think I definitely do what suits me the best in life.


Who’s your dream client?
IS: My dream client is every man who is not busy with following trends, but is just the man he wants to be. He doesn’t care about what people think of his looks, he dresses himself in the way he wants to present himself to the outside world. For me Kanye West and Ian Connor always have been an inspiration for my work. Men who are passionate about what they do in life and have their own style.

What was the first item you have ever designed? And who was the lucky one to get it?
IS: I think it was my Barbie doll, I had hundreds of them. I always wrapped them in toilet paper, looking like they where ready to go to the Oscars. I definitely think I got through the years a better taste in material usage for my designs.


What can we expect from you in near future?
IS: Im really looking forward to continue making menswear clothing, to keep creating pieces men love to wear. Collaborate with people who have more knowledge about the business, see how I can present myself the best and develop my techniques. My goal is to make a new menswear collection, with more pieces and present the collection during Fashionclash festival 2017!

Where can we buy your fashion?
IS: All inquiries involving my designs can be asked via email.
But in the near future I also wanna sell my items online. So definitely check my website for updates on my collection!

Tell us something about your time at MAFAD. How important is a school for a young designer?
IS: During my time at MAFAD I learned so much. My biggest discovery was finding out that menswear was my passion. I never knew that menswear could be so much fun and inspiring for me as a designer.

Besides finding out who you are as a designer and developing your own style, you learn a lot about the industry, and how to develop a collection step by step. Looking back, I never expected I would have learned so much! I also think studying at MAFAD had a big advantage for you technical side as a designer. The possibility of learning and getting involved with techniques is very broad, and also necessarily as a young designer.


Interview by Marcel Schlutt
Photos by Team Peter Stigter

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