The Name's Jones. Masato Jones.

It has long been a goal of mine to meet and interview a designer whose work I admire and this past weekend that dream was realised. 

Ladies and Gents: Masato Jones.

(Just some of Masato's sketches)

I have always been a little envious of those who have been to Central St. Martins (don't misunderstand me, my MMU Fashion degree means the world to me) so when I found out Masato was offered the place in his interview I knew I'd hit upon a visionary designer. You might think this is where Masato started...no. He is originally trained as a hair stylist but decided, after achieving so much in this field, he'd turn his hand to the creative side of fashion. And this is just the start.

After interning for Giles Deacon he then went on to work with him on several collections, design a tour dress for Beverly Knight and a collection for The English National Ballet. He is currently a designer for Ghost.

(Masato for Beverly Knight)

To meet a man with such a CV intimidated me at first; but it needn't have. Within minutes his calm, warm personality had rubbed off on me and it felt more like speaking with a friend.

I primarily met with him as he will be heavily involved in Manchester Fashion Week (launching April 2012 showing A/W 12/13 collections) with his new self titled label - Masato - and I wanted to have a chat about it and see what he has in store for my city.

Read on to see what we talked about over coffee as I got to know Masato and what makes him tick.

Why are fashion weeks so important to you?

Fashion weeks are important because it's the first time you get feed back on a collection. It's a great space to show your work to people who you know are interested and to see how your work is received by your peers. It's also important to chat and meet those in the industry and take inspiration from their work as well.

What is it about Manchester that made you want to become involved in MCRFW?

Outside London it's the biggest city in the UK and it is so exciting and creative here. The style is so different and people don't seem to follow trends but dress for themselves. Manchester Fashion Week contacted us and as there is already a campaign to get Masato up north we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get Manchester involved in our designs. Twitter has been a huge help and the response we've had over the past 12 months has given us the confidence to go forward with fashion weeks and grow the label. We were really noticed first after Brighton Fashion Week and the media attention we gained at Essex Fashion Week was fantastic so we wanted to try and recreate and grow this in the north through Manchester.

What's the most exciting/worst thing about designing a fashion week collection?

The most exciting is just after you've shown your collection. It's like giving birth! The worst? Just before.
The creative process and nerves before a show are huge and it's always a challenge to find a balance between the mental picture you have of a design and what you can physically create.

(Masato for The English National Ballet)

What's the one thing you couldn't live without when you're designing a collection?

Harry Potter films. They're calming because they are so familiar and the orchestral soundtrack is inspiring. I also love that the basis of the films is friendship, love and fighting for good. All these things help keep me calm and focused when designing.

Whose work do you admire?

Lanvin. The work is so exciting because it's a new way to manipulate fabrics and treat a finished garment. 
The designs themselves are so elegant and they really know how to dress women in a classic, stylish way.
Also the image that has been built up around the label is so instantly recognisable - this is something I hope to have for Masato one day. As a brand they are so accessible through Youtube, interviews, Twitter etc and I think this is important.
Understanding how to create a brand is hard but looking to someone like Lanvin is a great example and something to learn from.

How would you sum up your latest collection?

My last collection was all about colour but this season I want to focus on shape and detail within the garment. The finish and manipulation of fabric is very important to me and I want this to be included in my creations. I also want the collection to flow between each piece so it is viewed as a whole as opposed to several garments in the same space.

(Masato A/W '11)

What do you think will be the big trends for S/S 12?

I don't  really see trends. I prefer to work to my own designs and I feel like the UK isn't at all trend-led. Somewhere like Japan is very trend-led and they are constantly looking for the next thing but here each area has their own style. For example, when I am in Manchester the women dress themselves so differently from the women in Camden but they are all stylish and have real personality. I love this. Of course when I design for Ghost I do refer to trends but I like to keep my creations individual to my mind.

How do you feel about the recent high street/designer collaborations? Versace for H&M etc..

I think why not? These are great because they allow more people to see fashion pieces as accessible to them. The price of a Versace piece is so high and not achievable to most so making it available in H&M means everyone has a chance to wear high fashion and not break the bank. It helps break the divide between the general consumer and high fashion which I think is important in light of the current economic climate.

Finally, what do you do on one of your rare days off?

I listen to the radio and wander round small art galleries in London. I find them calming and inspiring and free from pressure. I like to look through market places and see what's going on and just relax while I see what's happening out there creatively.

Unfortunately he had a train to catch and had to leave or I could have chatted all night. Masato was a lovely man and I hope to see him again at MCR Fashion Week or before. I think what really sums it up is as I went to shake his hand and thank him for his time he enveloped me in a warm hug. What a guy.

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