Monday, February 21, 2011

Earl Luigi Mabaquiao 2011 Télio Winner

Every year Télio hosts an event called “Canada’s Breakthrough Designers” competition bringing 20 fashion design schools across Canada together. Students first sketched their designs with the theme The Great Canadian North in mind. 25 finalists are then chosen and presented with 19 different fabrics to choose from to sew their designs and showcase at Montreal Fashion Week.

Photography by Steven Smith Simard

This year’s winner 23 year old Earl Luigi Mabaquiao a 3rd year Fashion Design student from Kwantlen University in Richmond, B.C managed to capture the hearts of the judges.I had the pleasure of skyping with Earl just days after the competition to talk about his experience.

Lia: I have to ask…did your parents name you Luigi from the video game Mario Kart?
Earl: I’m not really sure…that’s what they led me to believe. My dad wanted to name me Mario, but that was too weird.

Lia: How do you feel about being the first from B.C to win Télio?
Earl: Yeah I know! I can’t even believe I won. I remember last year trying out and I didn’t even make it to semifinals. My sketches weren’t even good enough, so this year when I was to be chosen to go to Montreal, I was happy just to be able to showcase my work.

Lia: What was the best part of this trip? Other than winning, because winning is always pretty awesome.
Earl: Meeting all the other talented designers from across Canada was amazing. It’s great to see young and upcoming designers it makes you feel like we have a bright future in fashion for Canada.

lia: How exactly did you construct the sequined dress?
Earl: There were 2 fabrics I worked with and both of them were sequined fabrics. I experimented with the lines which I think is so important, especially designing for a woman. I created a surface design on the fabric and ended up cutting the blue sequined fabrics into strips. You need to be very precise with it because you don’t want to be cutting the sequins but the fabric that’s under it. I then flipped the silver sequined fabric in the opposite grain direction, and then walked each row by row and then tucked in each blue sequined strip and then sewed them one by one front and back.

Photography by Jimmy Hamelin

lia: How many hours did it take for you to sew that dress?
Earl: I don’t know how many hours
exactly but it took about 2 months. I spent my whole Christmas break sewing.

lia: Who would you choose to win, if you didn’t place first?
Earl: Wow…that’s really hard…
lia: I know… I’m putting you on the spot.
Earl: Every time a piece came out I was like this could possibly win, that could possibly get a spot. Its true when the judges said it was hard to choose a winner. I looked at every single designer and said, that girl or that guy could possibly win.
lia: Okay okay, I wont make you pick!

lia: Do you ever get inspiration from other designers on the runway?
Earl: Not necessarily… I love them, and I do get inspired, they’re so young and have achieved so much. So in that way[ I get inspired by them]. I really like to experiment with fabrics, and I like to experiment with lines, and rhythm,, you cant really do that by looking at someone elses work, you have to grab the fabric, and draw some lines, play with it and dye it, rip it shred it.

lia: When you're stuck and hitting a brick wall with any project where do you get inspiration from?
Earl: I try other things. The best thing is to do is try something completely opposite and different. Don’t try too hard to force and finish a design, try new food, listen to new music. I don’t want to create fashion by looking at fashion; I want to create fashion from dance, listening to music, talking to people. The good thing about living in Canada is seeing so many people from a diverse background, they all have a story to tell, and you get so inspired from those things, then you create something with that.

lia: What was the most valuable advice you received this trip?
Earl: Stay humble, work hard, give it all you’ve got. You’ve got to have a balance between being creative, having knowledge in the business side, and technical side. You need to learn every aspect so you can maximize your success . You don’t want to be a one-note designer, go out there and design 1 season and then be out of business and that sucks. It has something to do with your talent, but also being able to balance everything out.

Congratulations Earl! Rockin the bangs since 08! xoxo


  1. Love seeing what goes on inside a designer's head, Luigi sounds down to earth and inspiring

    Great work for the interview!

  2. what she (above) said =]

    good stuff, i like ur questions .. and i like his answers