03/13/2013 11:49 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Vini Lacerda readies for Fashion Week debut with edgy menswear-inspired line

TORONTO - Vini Lacerda is ready for his close-up.

After graduating from Toronto's Academy of Design in 2009, and working for homegrown label Line Knitwear, the Brazilian-born, Toronto-based designer is debuting his eponymous label during a March 25 show at Toronto's World MasterCard Fashion Week.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, the 25-year-old designer shared insight on his style inspirations, his aspirations for his budding Lacerda label and why he can't get enough of a certain teen flick from the 90s.

CP: What was it that inspired you to want to be a designer?

Lacerda: I think fashion's always been the one thing I felt like I had a valid opinion on and there was just nothing else that I was really good at, or any other path that I would take.

CP: Tell me about who your style influences were growing up.

Lacerda: I have a crazy collection of vintage Vogue, so basically, a bunch of 90s models. Anything from the 90s I was really inspired by, like cheesy teen movies and things like that.

CP: Did you have a particular favourite movie or model that you can recall?

Lacerda: I mean, Gisele will always be my favourite model, and I think "Clueless" will always be one of those timeless movies that I'll draw something from.

CP: Tell me about growing up in Brazil and how the fashion and culture shape your experiences as a designer now.

Lacerda: I don't think that it's anything that I focus on. If anything, it's more subconscious. I think it comes out in the colours that I choose and the prints that I do — not so much in the design. But I think after I have pieces done and I look back and I'm like: 'This is probably from growing up in Brazil.' The bright colours, I like a lot of that.

CP: Why did you decide now was the time you wanted to go out on your own and launch a label?

Lacerda: I've been working for another designer for about three years now, and I've been told many times that I shouldn't do it, that it wouldn't work out.... I'm just tired of being on the sidelines. I just want to do my own thing.

CP: Do you have a specific person in mind when you're designing your collections?

Lacerda: I don't know if it's anyone specific. It's definitely not going to be a wallflower girl. It's going to be someone that's a bit more forward, a bit more edgier.

CP: Tell me about the inspiration for your first collection we're seeing at Fashion Week.

Lacerda: I was kind of inspired by a lot of menswear, and I kind of like the idea of incorporating more masculine silhouettes and using more texture and more yarns and different fabrics that are more feminine and kind of mixing the two.

CP: Do you have an ultimate goal? Are you already thinking five years down the road of where you'd like to be? Or are you really just starting off with this first show and seeing where things go?

Lacerda: Ideally in five years, I'd like to be in a random city like New York or something and see a completely random person wearing one of my pieces, and hopefully selling next to a designer that I respect.

CP: Do you have any designers either here in Canada or elsewhere that you really admire in terms of their style or how they run their labels?

Lacerda: I like a lot of designers that come out of London, a lot of younger designers who are doing something different, taking more of a chance. I've seen a lot of good things come from J.W. Anderson and Jonathan Saunders. People like that I really like.

CP: Can you give us a little sneak peek or hint of what we can see in the way of colours or particular patterns that you're going to incorporate in the line?

Lacerda: I used a lot of neoprene and a lot of shiny-like vinyl/pleather.... And some of the sweaters, there's a fuzzier texture that's "Clueless"-inspired.

CP: You really love "Clueless"!

Lacerda: I do kind of love "Clueless." I've got to stop that. (laughing)

CP: Going back to the "Clueless" reference, was there someone that was a real standout from "Clueless," like a memorable character or scene?

Lacerda: I think it's just what I related to the 90s, that kind of whole preppy vibe. But I like to make it a little bit darker and a little bit edgier.


Note: This interview has been edited and condensed.


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