In celebration of the diverse range of skills within our Fashion programme, we have commissioned a series of designer profiles from our second-year BA Fashion Journalism students. Showcasing the art of fashion designing and fashion writing, each profile will provide an in-depth insight into the work and inspirations of a selected graduating designer. Here Christina Donoghue profiles BA Fashion Design: Womenswear student Simon Valer Dacsef, who was announced as one of three runners-up for the 2018 L’Oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award at the BA Fashion Press Show on 30 May.

“Me? No, it can’t be. You must have got the wrong person!” This was Simon Valer Dacsef’s dismissive response when I first told him it was my job to shadow him and his work for the next six months. Fortunately, the 25-year-old final year Womenswear student from Budapest adjusted quickly to the idea of me following him everywhere, scribbling away furiously at anything that might provide a slight indication of his character – even his tutors became accustomed to me and my brown notebook.

One of the first things Dacsef told me was that his surname, when pronounced in Hungarian, sounds like the word ‘Duchess’: “I think that says a lot about me, no?” Dacsef is a short man who can usually be seen a mile off due to his swift shuffling. Throughout the time I have been shadowing him, I have never seen him in anything other than slides from the women’s department of Teva. At first glance, these are similar to the kind of foam shoe you might be given in hospital when you have broken an ankle.

Simon Valer Dacsef, Central Saint Martins BA Fashion Show Collection, 2018. Photo: catwalking.com

Dacsef’s final collection opened the 2018 BA Fashion Press Show – an honour he was not necessarily fazed by. His designs incorporate his own childhood drawings of animals, such as horses and hedgehogs, which have been manipulated into extravagant shapes through the insertion of wire coat hangers into the fabric lining. At the beginning of his design process, Dacsef found inspiration from archived photographs of Yves Saint Laurent and Comme des Garçon dressing rooms, which he then replicated using his own garments. Each look is inspired by the six stages a model goes through at a ‘fitting’ for women’s clothing: the model turns up in her own clothes, ready to be transformed; she relaxes in a silk dressing gown, prepared for said transformation; her clothes used for the shoot are kept in a brown nylon garment bag; the model is draped in materials to work out measurements, fit and colours; then she changes, which results in the final look. Each part of the fitting inspires Dacsef in a different way – he even directly incorporates references to the process in his final collection, turning an actual garment bag into a two-piece skirt ensemble.

Simon Valer Dacsef, Central Saint Martins BA Fashion Show Collection, 2018. Photo: catwalking.com

Constructive criticism is common at Central Saint Martins, particularly when leading up to the final reveal at the Press Shows. However, Dacsef is probably his own biggest critic: “In order to do what you want to do, you have to be a really strong person. As designers, we are surrounded by criticism and that challenges you to look at your work from multiple perspectives. But I also think the best designers are the ones that don’t start all over again because of critique, they continue to do what they do – they are the ones that have resilience, they have fire.”

Catwalk images copyright catwalking.com

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