An FCAD Conversation: Fashion with Roy Luo and Melanie Mitchell

During my time here at Ryerson, specifically as an FCAD student, I’m regularly inspired by the people I meet throughout all different fields, ranging across the FCAD spectrum. All the way from film lovers to fashion pioneers, sports gurus, stylish designers, and much more – all these students represent the blend of creativity Ryerson has in the applied arts. So, out of my own curiosity to better understand these dynamic thinkers and what makes their creativity tick, I took part in eavesdropping a conversation between two students. In the interview below, Melanie Mitchell and Roy Luo talk about fashion, high school, inspiration, and more.

Both Roy and Melanie are second year fashion students studying at Ryerson University.  

Melanie: So, how did your interest for fashion come to be?

Roy: I don’t know if I was ever interested in Fashion, but I was always interested in clothing and garments. One of the first things I did in garment construction was making doll clothes. It was always about the construction of it. I see clothing as a puzzle, which is why I also kind of see it as a game. It’s so tactile, and I guess that’s where my interest comes from. The physicality of it.

M: How did you learn to sew?

R: The first time I learned to hand sew, was for my Grade 6 talent show where I sang a song and it was horrible. But I wanted a really cool costume for it so I ordered these EL lights on eBay and my mom showed me a basic stitch so that I could sew it onto a hoodie. That would technically be the first thing I’ve ever sewn.

M: Growing up in Toronto, what was your high school experience like?

R: I wish I could forget. I’m kidding. Anyways, I liked my high school experience, but because we didn’t have many fashion or sewing opportunities, I kind of had to learn on my own. My high school was very focused on STEM classes and so for me there was just an inherent barrier trying to pursue fashion. I would try to put on fashion shows but nobody would sign up. But there was an enriched art program which I was a part of, that allowed me to take all the art classes my school could offer, which still wasn’t a lot.

M: Where do you typically draw inspiration from?

R: Major themes in my work usually deal with childhood nostalgia, queerness, or monsterhood. I like looking at things from an outsider perspective because I’m so impacted by my identity. It has to be a primary feature of almost everything I make because it’s holistically a part of me. And I don’t want my identity to be separate from my work.

M: Where does your preference for particular colour palettes come from?

R: I like bright colours and shiny stuff. I like complementary and analogous colours, and a personal palette that comes through in a lot of my work would be yellows, oranges, and pinks. From that, I always stem towards what could look good with it, different hues, values, and so on.

M: How do you maintain a personal aesthetic while still experimenting with such a wide range of media?

R: I think colour is something important that you can brand for yourself, but other than that I think you have just to maintain a consistent aesthetic, or “spirit”, whether your work is digital, painting, sewing, etc. I think this part of the creative process – how you’re exploring ideas, has to be the same in order to naturally evolve and develop your work, while also maintaining an aesthetic.

M: Walk us through your mood-boarding/inspiration process.

R: I actually don’t like mood-boarding, we have to cite a lot in class which is annoying [laughs]. I don’t know, I kind of draw from what I’ve done before, and when it comes to inspiration or mood-boarding, I try to reiterate it into a new form, shape, image, etc. And this is always a great launching point for me. I can evolve or diverge from it, however I choose. That’s a hard question.

M: What areas of your personal life do you draw inspiration from?

R: Obviously my sexuality, but my childhood is probably the major influence. One of the major things that I’ve come to realize at Ryerson is how much I miss my childhood – no responsibilities, getting sleep [laughs]. It keeps my work young and fresh and I want to remain that way. I don’t like being old.

M: Do you ever try to convey messages with your work? What sort of messages?

R: Being fun, reminding people that it’s ok to have fun, and I have to remind myself that too. It’s easy to tell yourself that it’s all about work, and I should probably take my own advice. It’s important to let loose, and explore beyond what you’re familiar with. It’s the best way for me to work out who I am as a designer. Through playing, creating, molding, making, and just having fun.