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desti saint says...


Desti Saint is our kind of girl. Not one to be contented with being great at just one thing, she has turned her attention to a rather extraordinary knack – designing handbags. Since the release of her inaugural Goat Skin collection, Desti has been impressing fashion-forward thinkers and critics alike with her unique sense of creativity and style. It is no surprise to us that Singapore-based media personality, Anita Kapoor, has even decided to step in as the brand’s ambassador. Cut things short, we caught up with Desti to tell us more.

Anita Kapoor with Desti Saint clutch bag from the upcoming Maddie collection

Audrey Lee: Hi Desti, care to share with our readers a lil’ more about your fashion background, and what made you first set foot into the industry?

Desti Saint: My background was in finance. And I get quite frustrated with the colours, styles and the pricing. So when I left my job, I decided to go into retail. And I became a distributor for handbags, which we took to New Zealand. However, the colours didn’t sell, etc, so I decided to create my own brand. Exactly what happened, I got the right colour of gold, I created my first handbag. And I suppose the rest is history, really.

AL: So I understand that you left Hong Kong to come to Singapore to live. So what triggered that decision?

DS: My husband is also in finance. He was offered the opportunity to come here, so we followed. I’ve got three children. Once we got here, the business was yeah, it’s great. But once we got here, it tends to completely just explode. So it’s been a fantastic move. I’ve got the branding done, and we’ve been here for three years now and business has really gone from up and up and up now you know. The government has just been amazing, tremendous support from everyone really.

AL: Can you speak Cantonese?

DS: No, I’ve tried. (Laughs)

AL: So yeah, you once hold a position in finance, and you said that the colours didn’t really impress you. What do you mean by that? Is it about the corporate attire or…?

DS: No, I think everything. Well, maybe the shoes, bags and accessories. I mean everyone always wears black in the corporate world. The black, the dark greys... But you can really up it with your accessories, and often be the wrong silver, the wrong gold, the wrong… even the black sometimes. Or it’ll be cheap and you have to pay very expensive price; it was just a bag, it wasn’t, not unless you can seriously design that. There really wasn’t a lot else. So yeah, that’s sort of why I decided to really give the right colours, the right price, the right quality and kind of do it that way.

AL: Is it safe to say that you can’t really accessorize yourself when you’re in the finance world compared to if you’re in fashion. I mean, has fashion always been something that you love to do?

DS: Yeah, fashion is always something I love, and my mother has been amazing. My mother has amazing style. I love fashion, I love creating and it has always been finding the right colour. I’ll spend hours in a leather shop, finding the right colour, the right silver, the right gold. I do love fashion. I love the individuality of fashion. How individual you can be. And how the use of silk and fabrics, and stuff like that. I love all that.

AL: So what are some of the prominent challenges you faced in the course of your career and in this scene?

DS: Competition’s fierce. What I’ve learnt is that if you have a really strong platform, do your branding, understand your brand. If you have a point of difference, uniqueness, I mean you really have to get something that is different. That people are gonna want. And also, your production and your manufacturing are key. If you haven’t got good quality production and good quality materials, then really, you can’t get anywhere. Also handling manufacturing, getting delivery dates on time is really really hard. So you’ve got to have that amazing relationship. In this field, it’s all about having good relationships. And it’s a very small market, you’ve got to treat people respectfully I think. It doesn’t matter if you manufacture your jade supplies, you’ve got to treat them respectfully. If you help them, then they will want to help you. And it really really works. So I’ve got really good relationships with my manufacturers. And I think that they are amazing.

AL: So tell us a little bit about your brand, what is your identity?

DS: The Desti Saint brand is unique – it’s about quality, standing out from the crowd. It’s about having this unique style, there’s also a message in the bag, often. For example, my goat skin bag. The goat is not killed for the skin you know. It’s a by-product and it’s designed like the Balinese clouds, the trees and the flowers. It then has the jades, which again it’s a very important part of me – Asia. So a lot of it is Asia, I find. How it’s all carved and beautiful. So there are messages in it. The next one, my Italian range has got the happiness symbol and the leather’s all Italian. I’m trying to be spot on with the colours, it will be a work of art as well. It will have something that makes you feel good when you wear it.

AL: So what would be your typical approach, when it comes to designing your bags?

DS: I would start with my inspiration first, and decide what the collection’s gonna be. My next collection’s gonna be the Love Knot. For example, The Tulip, it’s a love knot, it never breaks. And so I now have it in my head, basically, so the whole thing will revolve around the Love Knot. It’s gonna have silk tassels so I’ll more or less work backwards. Shape of the bag comes last. I’ll choose the materials first, and then I’ll go to the bag. Often, materials could be, you know, if I’m going for the shiny leather, that’s obviously gonna be for evening wear. So then I’ll work backwards and then go to the bag. I won’t often go with the shape, I’ll just decide what’s gonna be based around.

AL: So where do you usually get your inspirations from?

DS: Anywhere. Singapore, Little India, Arab Street, or I look to books of colours of Singapore, the temples of Singapore. The jade market stuff are around china. Anywhere really. Bangkok... The Love Knot is from Hong Kong.

AL: And when is that coming out?

DS: That will be coming out from my head (laughs). And I’ve also got an Indian manufacturer because I would very much like to go to India. It will be huge. When I spoke to our brand ambassador, Anita Kapoor, she told me about her incredible trip to India, and it sounded unbelievable. So maybe you should do that journey, she said. And this is kind of how it’s happening.

AL: I can see you love travelling!

DS: I love to travel, love travel, but very much in Asia. I’m an Asian child – I call myself a banana. It’s like Asian but I’m white on the outside. Laughs. I love Asia. I love the mentality of Asians. But again, I love Europe, but I get most of my real wow moments from Asia. It absolutely just blows me away.

AL: Is there anyone you actually look up to? For inspirations as well?

DS: I love Valentino, because he makes a woman a woman. And he goes for the most amazing soft fabrics, beautiful quality. I say the brand is sorta Sex in the City meets Valentino. So it’s got the quality but it always has the quirky uniqueness as well. But I think he is incredible. And I think some designers just try too hard. Any dress he creates, any woman can wear. It makes you look beautiful, which is what I’m trying to do with the bags. To make beautiful statement pieces.

AL: So how do you describe your own personal style? Coz the bags are named after you, so I would think that it’s your style that is input in the designs, so what’s your personal style?

DS: I like to look sometimes, a little bit unique, something interesting. I like to go for quality. I always say quality lasts. But the things I’ve invested have lasted me for a long time. It is the style, it is the colour, it is the quality, but also you can drop and change. It’s not just one bag, you can have various straps on it. You can take things off, you can add things on. So you’re not stuck with one bag. But it actually means something. And I found in my life that, I lost a very good friend of mine about four years ago. And that taught me a lot. He was very young. So that actually taught me a lot that you’ve got to live life and enjoy life. So there’s a lot of that essence that goes into the bags as well. And the message is quite strong. Like “happiness”, that’s the key. This is actually my friend’s necklace, she was wearing it in Hong Kong, and I love her, she’s wonderful, took a photo of that, and that kind of represents my time in Hong Kong. It’s about happiness.

AL: So any future plans for yourself, for your brand?

DS: Yeah, I’m looking into India, the inspiration. I think there’s just so much there. I want keep a production in India. An expansion into Australia is also another. I mean we’ve just got here, but we’ve gotten seven retails already, and an agent. We’re looking at America, which we’re currently talking to as well. We’re also investing a lot into Singapore. We aim to do Blueprint as well. That’s mainly we want to support the government, we want to get back to them, we want to get back to Singapore because they’ve just been phenomenal. We are a Singapore brand. And we’re here, so that’s it. So next year, you’re gonna see Love Knot. That’s going to be coming through, production in India, as I said. And the Maddie range will come out.

AL: I can’t wait for that! Lastly, any known fact we should know about Desti Saint?

DS: Born in Asia, as I said. I’ve got three children. I’ve got a very tolerant husband, he’s just fabulous. He’s always been incredibly supportive, and amazing friends. Came to Singapore three years ago. Things really, have gone on it’s own, on a momentum. And it’s been an amazing market. This is homegrown, our market, this is our baby, Singapore.

Check out Desti Saint Goatskin collection on Clozette Shoppe NOW >>

View original post at Clozette.

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