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An Interview with Alison Pinky

Alison Pinky's designs are cinematic. The ornate embellishments, the sparkling pastel color palettes, the meticulous attention to detail-- they look like something right out of a Wes Anderson film. I fell in love with her designs after seeing them on Mikan Mandarin's YouTube channel. They just feel so complete, so weighted with wonder and sincerity that anyone that wears them is vested with a sort of heroism. She doesn't create garments that are empty and meaningless; her pieces gracefully tell a story from beginning to end.

I have rarely seen such nuance communicated through clothing. It's the contradiction in her designs that speaks to me. Alison is drawn to opposition, the sweet and the dark, the tragic and the joyous, the cynical and the romantic. Therefore, the clothing she makes isn't frivolous. It isn't purely lighthearted. For one, her designs are delicate, ephemeral, they look like they might break at the slightest touch, or get carried away with the wind. But they also symbolize the strength in embracing the impermanence of things. Disguised by lace, ribbons, and purely hues is an intense meditation on the nature of life itself. It's poetry.

Her pieces are even more impressive when you consider that she's still just a student at Bunka Fashion College. Although she already has the purpose and creativity that can take years to develop, I'm really looking forward to seeing how she will articulate her feelings and stories through clothing in the future.

Who are your inspirations?

I always go to see art exhibitions and watch movies to get inspirations. So my inspirations mostly come from artists and directors. I like to create clothes that tell stories, in particular I love things that are poisonous but sweet and that’s why I really like Tim Burton and Robert Stromberg. Hans Makart and Peter Paul Rubens are also my favourites.  Besides that, reading fashion magazines is my biggest hobby. Though nowadays there are convenient e-magazines, I prefer reading print magazines. Larme, Bis, Tulle... sweet girly magazines are always my choices. Not only the clothes, but the themes behind them or the words used in the magazine can inspire me.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your studies so far?  The biggest challenge must be pattern making. I am not good at that. I like imagining and designing so much. I find it really hard to create ideal silhouettes. Sometimes, I need to ask my teacher to modify them for me but it is challenging to present my ideas precisely in Japanese which is not my mother tongue.

What work are you most proud of? 

It must be the jacket I made in the start of this school term.

I designed, made the jacket, hair accessory and the skirt.  The scene of Colette holding the chandelier in“Dumbo”inspired me. The name of this work is called ‘Murano Chandelier Girl”. The story behind is that the girl looks beautiful outside but inside, it is like a chandelier which is made by glass and could be broken easily.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in fashion design? 

Fashion is really an amazing thing. It can also tell stories and history.  I love aesthetic behind imperfection. Just like stories that are beautiful but sad, or things that are sweet but poisonous. For instance roses are beautiful but dangerous because of the thorns. I would like to share this aesthetic with others in the world through my designs and creations. 

How do you define style? 

I believe that as long as you express yourself, you feel so excited and happy when looking at it, arranging it, wearing it,taking photos with it, that is your style.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

I realized that magazines and images really inspire me a lot. Therefore I wish I could have started reading fashion magazines much earlier.

What is your dream job? 

As I mentioned I like aesthetic behind imperfection a lot. My dream job is sharing this aesthetic to the world and tell people stories with the clothes I designed .

Do you have any plans to open a shop or take commissions? 

Yes. I want to launch my brand and open a shop. It is the reason why I came to Japan and study fashion. I am from Hong Kong and Hong Kong people do not really like dressing up in fashionable looks. I would love to design but I know there is a long way to go.

What’s the most valuable piece of criticism you’ve received?

I haven’t received any criticism for my work so far. However I had been criticized on my clothing by people around me in Hong Kong. As I mentioned that Hong Kong people are quite conservative in dressing, most of them do not understand my style and think I am strange.However I want to be myself. I trust my own fashion sense and I seldom care about how others see me. I keep wearing the fashion I like and creating things I  even appreciates how I dressed up.

How do you hope people feel when they wear your designs?

I hope they feel that they are unique like the heroine of a story. At the same time, I hope that they can be pleased when they look at the mirror and have confidence in themselves. 


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