Interview: Ondrej Adamek

by Lou Stoppard .

Womenswear designer Ondrej Adamek graduated from Central Saint Martins' prestigious MA Fashion course in 2014 when it was still under the direction of the late Louise Wilson. Alongside fellow student Michael Power, Adamek was awarded the L'Oreal Professionel Creative Award at CSM's London Fashion Week catwalk show. The award was judged by CSM alumni Christopher Kane.

Lou Stoppard: What makes Central Saint Martins such a special place to study?
Ondrej Adamek: Its name, because it sounds cool! That and the very interesting and driven people who apply there.
LS: You came to London from North Moravia in the Czech Republic. Had you always wanted to study in London?
OA: I came from Moravian Wallachia which is very distinctive region in North Moravia with peculiar people. London was not my target until my late teenage years, that was the time when I realised I wanted to absorb more multiculturalism and fashion information and have new experiences.
LS: Explain to me what it's like to study on the MA - it's such a famous course that has produced so many great names.
OA: Studying on the MA is like having several weddings and funerals every day. Everybody is trying to come up with something so amazing that will change fashion forever and it feels very good when you are almost there, but you fail all the time.
LS: Did you feel a great sense of competition with your peers?
OA: I felt it and I thought it was very healthy and inspiring.
LS: What did you learn from Louise Wilson? Was there one lesson that particularly stood out?
OA: I ask that question quite often. It feels like being secretly injected with a vaccine. You never know in what situation it comes up. I am still finding out what I was taught. Her training becomes clear in particular situations of your life. I wasn't able to understand all of it during the fast pace of the course. Once she pulled out piece of research which was badly printed and only half of the photo was shown, she pointed out on blank space and asked me what would Marc Jacobs do. That worked for me.
LS: Can you imagine the MA without her?
OA: I can. It will be quite different, her legacy is very strong and the tutors on the course are excellent. Even though she was the captain, she would have not got there without her wonderful team of stuff and students.
LS: What was the starting point for your graduate collection?
OA: Blossoming cycles of midnight flowers which open at night and Roberto Cappuci.
LS: The graphic shapes looked like they could be flowers or even explosions or even speech bubbles. Did you want to work to look quite cartoonish? It felt very confident because it was so structured and almost simple, despite the elaborate construction. I personally felt there was an interesting divide between something quite cheerful and optimistic (the pink, the flowers) and something slightly darker (the obscured faces and almost monkish shapes).
OA: I would not say I wanted it to look cartoonish, but more graphic - unusual silhouettes and strong colours. It took me a while to gain the right skill and sense to recognise a good balance between simplicity and something that can be too much. I was very excited making that collection so cheerfulness probably came from there. There is only one eye showing on some looks and becasue of that I think there is some sexual tension in in the collection - it looks a bit mysterious.
LS: What is your vision of how a woman should dress? Do you feel you have an aesthetic yet?
OA: It is lifetime challenge to find out how woman should dress, I am lucky that I do not know it yet. I secretly believe that I have my own aesthetic.
LS: You won the L'Oreal Professionel Creative Award along with Michael Power. Why do you think your work stood out and what did it mean to win that award?
OA: It was a ‘gobsmacking’ (I learnt that word from Louise) experience and I felt very privileged. It stood out, but maybe you should ask the judge why!
LS: What are you working on now?
OA: I am helping my friend Minki with his collection which will be launched with his label soon.
LS: What are your hopes for the future? Work in house? Have your own label? Is it a hard time to be a designer?
OA: I am not planing my future too much. I know I will be a designer. Sometimes it can be difficult, but that is exciting part of it, however it can be truly easy too.