Since the first week of her fourth year in Ryerson, Alyssa Alikpala has been consumed with the final stitches of her collection for Ryerson’s end-of-year fashion show, Mass Exodus.
“As a fashion design student, it’s what we look forward to. After four years, you’re finally allowed the freedom to be creative,” she says in her studio apartment – the hub of her creativity. The workspace is filled with fashion student-y things: pictures of models cut out of magazines, portraits of the Eiffel tower, a sewing machine, and a mannequin with a yellow measuring tape draped around her shoulders. An inspiration board illustrates the theme she chose.Titled “The Fall of Men,” her collection is inspired by the fall of innocence to sin, when Adam accepted Eve’s offer of the forbidden fruit. “I really like the dark look, a dark aesthetic, but I don’t want it to look evil.”
Holding up a roll of chiffon, she explains, “I want it to have a romanticized, lighter undertone to it.” Where did Alikpala get her dark-light inspiration? A folder in her Macbook named “sources of inspiration” keeps pictures of everything from crystals, flowers, and the Roraima Mountain. Her black sketchbook sits on a stack of Vogue magazines and mismatched rolls of fabric hold scribbles, random words and pictures of runway models that inspire her.
After doing the visual research for inspiration, the Haider Ackermann fan started sketching, designing and sewing for her collection – but then came the challenging part.
She may only present five outfits from an array of 30.
Having pulled through the four-year program, Alikpala has the skills to apply a variety of design treatments to her clothing — but knows she can’t go overboard and force everything she’s learned into the collection. “Editing is important to make the look really strong. You want it to look concise and cohesive in just five pieces.
Looking at pictures of her five-piece collection, you can see it’s in its final stages. Floor-length vests, layered pieces of different lengths, and asymmetrical hemlines — Alikpala’s line has dramatic flair. She likes to juxtapose darker fabrics with a lighter essence, and hard materials like leather with a graceful touch of chiffon.
Although she’s been getting three to five hours of sleep a night thanks to the demanding class schedule of a fourth-year student, she admits Ryerson’s fashion program has prepared her well for Mass Ex and even for starting her new label. “It’s really challenging, really crazy. It’s not all glamorous just because you like clothes,” she said. “You have to have the passion for it.”
Born and raised in Vancouver, Alikpala is glad she had to fight for her parents’ approval to pursue her passion for fashion. It’s one of the things that make fashion design worth it. “In the end, after all the hard work, the blood, the sweat and tears you put in, it’s really rewarding seeing your work on the runway, having people see it,” she said.