We met 1205’s designer Paula Gerbase, who visited Japan in line with the opening of the brand’s pop-up at Dover Street Market Ginza.
Ms. Gerbase studied womenswear at Central Saint Martins in London. She also took some time off to study men’s tailoring on Savile Row. Her design concept is “creating clothes that are old and new.” Her calm style is accompanied by a strong presence.
During her training at the renowned tailor “Kilgour,” she was not permitted to touch any fabrics for the first three months. She only met with the artisans twice a day, when she would serve them tea. The beginning of her training was about continuously observing the creation process.
“At first glance, the artisans’ work seems outdated, but in fact it’s most modern. I feel a punkish spirit from the dead silent atelier where the artisans work with such dedication and concentration,” says Ms. Gerbase. Understanding the process at Kilgour deeply influenced the designer’s future work and also marked a clear difference from what she knew about women’s tailoring.
Ms. Gerbase launched 1205 from the 2011-12 AW season. Her modernity updating orthodox tailoring and restrained stance are her forte, and she has been receiving much attention since her debut. Her designs, focusing on materials and cutting, give off a genderless feel. In Japan, the designs are carried at stores such as Dover Street Market Ginza and United Arrows. “I feel that Japanese buyers understand the calm substance of my designs. Or rather, perhaps they made an effort to understand my clothes. They are very open-minded about new ideas. Japanese sensibility towards taking the time to pursue quality overlaps with my design philosophy.”
The brand began as a men’s brand, but the large size range attracted many female customers as well. Starting off with skirts and dresses, the women’s line was launched in 2013-14 AW. The taste of the designs is the same for both men and women, and some of the items are unisex.
The brand name represents many things. It can be read differently depending on the language, it could be someone’s birthday, zip code or lucky number (1+2+0+5＝8) and more. But most of all, the name represents the designer’s wish of remaining anonymous.
“My philosophy is based on the three words- pureness, restraint and substance. I have a new project coming up with the Belgian brand Bulo. I will be designing furniture, but my approach will be the same as when I design clothes.”