I admit I have a soft spot for young people with big dreams. And that soft spot becomes naked admiration when that person takes the plunge and decides to follow those dreams. Sef Farrugia falls squarely into this category. At just 26 Sef has just ditched her daytime tutoring job at MCAST – Malta’s Art and Design School – to pursue a career in fashion design.
Zebbug born and bred, Sef was a student at MCAST herself – completing a national diploma in Arts and Design by the time she was 17. The restless teenager soon left Malta to further her studies, first at the London College of Fashion and then following that up with a BA (Hons) Fashion degree from Ravensbourne University. As was bound to happen, her promising work did not go unnoticed there either – she won a “one to watch” knitwear award by Annalisa Dunn. Sef was also invited to show her work at the modest Southsea Fashion Week held in August 2012 at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard where her work stood out for its boldness. Having completed her studies and armed with a mind swirling with ideas Sef returned to Malta in the same year and started working in earnest on her brand.
When I ask Sef about influences she isn’t too specific – not because she is evasive but it’s that her influences are so varied and complex. But once she homes in on a theme her mind goes into overdrive and she meticulously researches her subject thoroughly for further inspiration. Her Poppins collection was initially inspired by childhood films – Mary Poppins specifically – but you’ be forgiven for not making the connection. Her research delved into the Edwardian era the film is set in, the fashions and design work of La Belle Époque – those heady early twentieth century days before World War I cruelly swept away the romanticism of the era. This line evolved further into knitwear designs echoing rich African motifs and I show my confusion as to the unlikely connection. But Sef explains where the research took her – imported African tiles that were apparently all the rage in Victorian and Edwardian England…. Ah!
The Casa Azul collection in particular got Sef noted in Malta – the remote affinity to traditional Maltese floor tiles must have struck a chord somewhere. But the inspiration was those African tiles again…transformed and played around with once more to make them almost indigenous.
More interesting still I get to know that Sef is a one-woman army in all this. After all the research is done Sef draws the final prints in digital format, sends the designs to mainland Europe where they are transferred to fabric and then she cuts, sews and does the rest herself to produce her exquisite accessories: scarves, bow-ties primarily. Not too certain that one can’t judge a book by its cover Sef goes one step further – she designs her packaging and packs her goods herself!
Illustration – Sef’s first love – naturally plays a large part in her work even though illustration for her remains very much a means to an end. Her talents here didn’t go unnoticed either. Local band Airport Impressions used one of her illustrations as a cover for their album ‘Mariette’.
Free of her day job Sef is now concentrating on building a long overdue website – necessary in this day and age – which will feature an in-house shop. Her plans also include an actual brick and mortar small boutique but in the meanwhile you can still pamper yourself with some of Sef’s accessories. Have a look at Sef’s stuff while in Malta at Henri’s in Mdina, Camilleri Paris Mode in Valletta and the Villa Bologna shop in Attard. This young woman’s creations will complement the individual in you to a T.
Sef Farrugia on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Official.Sef.Farrugia?fref=ts
Author: Steve Bonello