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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with fashion designer Ramil Makinano

A chat with Central Saint Martins graduate Ramil Makinano about his Philippines heritage, his weird and wonderful graduate collection, MTV, National Trust and much more…

Written by Matt Bramford


Ramil Makinano‘s Graduate Collection illustrated by Milly Jackson

I first saw the weird and wonderful work of Ramil Makinano at the Toni&Guy Hair Show during London Fashion Week last month. The show, which I very much enjoyed, was all about hair as you can imagine; the clothes were selected to compliment the hairstyles and were pretty basic. That is, except for the final pieces. Vibrant colours and odd shapes flooded the runway, and as a result of my review, Ramil got in touch to introduce himself. I couldn’t wait to find out more about this unique designer.

I met Ramil on a chilly Monday evening at Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch. It had been hard to pin him down, and I was about to find out why. Born and raised in the Philippines, Ramil moved to London fifteen years ago on a nursing scholarship with the NHS, despite being thoroughly passionate about fashion from an early age. ‘It was a good way to move away,’ Ramil told me as we took a seat with our beers. ‘I was interviewed in Manilla, and was one of the first few people to be brought over by the NHS.’ Ramil’s passion for nursing and inevitable need to fund his collections still see him working at St Thomas’ Hospital at weekends.


Ramil Makinano‘s Graduate Collection illustrated by Maria del Carmen Smith

After 8 years working as a nurse after qualifying in London, Ramil decided to return to his desire to become a fashion designer and had naturally heard of the world’s most famous fashion school – Central Saint Martins. By this time Ramil had obtained British citizenship and secured a place on the foundation course, professing to the degree specialising in print.

It was whilst studying at Saint Martins on a sandwich course that Ramil undertook placements with some of fashion’s greatest talent, experiences that he remembers very fondly. Internships at Matthew Williamson, Elisa Palomino and Diane Von Furstenberg allowed Ramil to fully explore his penchant for print. As I rub my hands together hoping for some juice on these fashion figures, I’m only slightly disappointed when Ramil has nothing but great things to say about the designers. He tells me a story about Von Furstenberg calling all the interns to the rooftop apartment of her 14th Street studios for lunch. ‘We were just sitting there, having lunch, on the roof, with Diane Von Furstenberg. It was INCREDIBLE!’ he exclaims. He attributes his successes whilst studying to course lecturer Natalie Gibson. ‘I owe her so much,’ he tells me, ‘she’s an incredible woman.’


Ramil Makinano‘s Graduate Collection illustrated by Estelle Morris

We move on to talk about Ramil’s breathtaking final collection that I saw at the Toni&Guyshow and that he presented during the CSM presentations in the summer. He digs out his portfolio and comes across a little nervous when talking me through it. ‘I feel like it’s a job interview!’ says Ramil. I feel like Diane Von Furstenberg for a mere moment, and I’m not complaining. Ramil’s inspiration for his collection came from two disparate sources – Medieval armour and Margaret Thatcher. Well, not that disparate when you consider satirical cartoons of the Iron Lady in Medieval garb, I suppose.


Pages from Ramil Makinano’s sketchbooks

His obsession with colour, texture and the aesthetic properties of materials is all over this collection. It’s fascinating to see where a designer started with their research and where they finished; where the collection has come from. Ramil leafs through page after page of design inspiration; vibrant patterns, sketches of Thatcher, photocopies of Medieval source material, grabs from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. His journey began at the Tower of London, and it is the armoury he saw there, with its bold silhouettes and sense of purpose that inspired Ramil so much. Throw in a powerful woman like Thatcher and you’ve got a seriously ambitious collection on your hands. ‘I didn’t want it to be serious, though,’ Ramil informs me. ‘I wanted to keep it playful; to be fun.’ Even the hardest-nosed critics would have trouble not finding any fun in this set of outfits.

Shapes in the collection are visibly inspired by the curves and sculpture of armoury, constructed from neoprene using techniques Ramil created himself. These are presented in a variety of bold colours, and the ensembles feature playful, almost childlike, prints of rockets and spaceships. It wasn’t a easy task by any means. ‘I had to make at least 8 toilles per garment,’ Ramil explains. ‘I am always seeking perfection.’ We discuss the surge in digital printing. ‘I do like digital prints, but I prefer traditional methods. I spent hours in the studio matching colours, testing colours – I like the interaction between fabrics and dyes that you don’t get with digital methods. I spent my whole student life in the print room, but I have no regrets. It’s not glamorous either, it’s dirty work!’


Ramil Makinano‘s Graduate Collection illustrated by Milly Jackson

So who does he admire? ‘Matthew [Williamson] and Diane [Von Furstenberg] especially – people who are successful in fashion but have their feet firmly on the ground.’ He also likes labels that continue to employ traditional methods – only Eley Kishimoto and Zandra Rhodes, he believes. What else does he get up to? It’s a pretty packed week, researching Monday to Friday and nursing at the weekends. ‘I love London galleries!’ he tells me, ‘because there’s so much to see. The Design Museum, the V&A, the National Gallery – they are all so wonderful.’ He try to persuade me to get a National Trust membership, one of his favoured possessions.


Pages from Ramil Makinano’s sketchbooks

He tells me he’s a ‘child of the MTV era’ and finds much inspiration in the graphics of music videos. It was an MTV show, House of Style, and Style with Elsa Klensch, that are amongst his earliest fashion memories. He tells me ‘I used to fight with my brother all the time because Elsa Klensch‘s show was on at the same time as American Basketball!’

So what’s next for Ramil? He’s currently researching his next collection – A/W 2012 – which promises to be ‘something completely different.’ It will most likely be print-based, but that’s all Ramil can tell me at this stage. One thing he is certain on is that he’s staying put here in London, and currently applying to various fashion bodies in the hope of a debut solo show during fashion week next September. I look forward to seeing his name on the schedule.

Photographs courtesy of Ramil Makinano

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One Response to “An interview with fashion designer Ramil Makinano”

  1. [...] Milly Jackson was winner of the 2011 FAD Competition, Escape. Her prize was £2,000 and a three week placement with Whistles. Since finishing her placement Milly has continued to work with the retailer, recently accepting her first freelance commision for their website as well as illustrating for FAD supporter, Amelia’s Magazine. [...]

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