Local textile designer Sef Farruġia talks about the expression of the raw individual self through fashion.
We live in a world full of possibilities. Children love dressing up, experimenting with different costumes to become princesses and superheroes for a day, but for many, this spark dwindles as the years go by. Growing up, people always told you that you could be whoever you wanted to be, but when did choosing to be yourself stop being enough?
It’s a constant paradox; we strive to become more whilst wanting to be enough. We breathe in images. We curate our own world, our own self. This is a visual century, and fashion is possibly the tool of choice for those in search of an audience. Our relationship with our clothes varies from one individual to the next, but it is there – whether we choose to accept it or not. The choices we make in our clothes reflect who we are – they are our presentation of the self to the world and a powerful channel for communicating the message we want to shout out.
The dominance of the image in society can prove hard to live up to. Social media platforms provide an influx of images, often distorting our reality and creating a fixed set of ideals which appear to translate into beauty, fashion or style. But the image can simultaneously be a power-tool to combat the world. Beneath the glamourous layers of fashion lies a connection to our clothing which can make us feel so much more than just beautiful. As Diana Vreeland, former editor-in-chief at Vogue, once said, “Fashion must be the most intoxicating release from the banality of the world.”
I spoke to Sef Farruġia, textile designer and illustrator, who is currently in the process of opening her studio-meets-shop space in Rabat, and launching her own website. Sef is inevitably stylish, and her prints have a lot to offer to any room, as she makes apparent through her Facebook and Instagram feeds. Being a textile designer, Sef specialises in machine knitting – although her current work is based mainly on print, as showcased in her current collection of luxury scarves. Having followed her love for the arts and design throughout her education both in Malta and the U.K., where she interned for designers such as Giles Deacon, Sef returned to Malta where she launched her self-titled brand, Sef Farruġia.
Her designs are a reflection of her own personal image and her surroundings. “Naturally, we absorb everything that is around us and so, automatically, we take in what is around us and reflect it in our work. Having said that, different people express this in many different ways, which is the beauty of it all. We could come from the same country, have the same influences, but express them in totally different ways,” says Sef. In a society driven by the visual, it is so easy to get lost in the pool of contradictory messages surrounding you, without ever noticing. There looms the possibility of never having known yourself at all, never having had the time to interpret yourself. It takes a certain amount of confidence to stand out from the crowd and become your own person. “Fashion should be an expression of your individuality”, Sef explained. “Having said that, it could be whatever you want it to be.”
Sef’s designs are inspired by different things, “from music to architecture, to photography and cultures… anything”. She states that inspiration doesn’t occur in a single moment but one has to constantly work for it. “However, there are rare moments, when it does”, she adds. Once inspiration hits, Sef is able to transfer her ideas into illustrations which are then printed onto fabric, proceeding to sew handmade accessories and clothing for her collections.
Individual identification is still not easy to come by. “My work very much revolves around identity. Something that in 2018, we are still extremely afraid to talk about nationally.” Perhaps it’s time to open ourselves up to discussion, to make a change not limited by a lapse of our imagination.
Photos by Sef Farrugia – @Seffarugiashop