Jan 11, 2012 12:00AM

Interview: Soya Fashion Winner, Michael Lo Sordo

This award is a guiding hand from the fashion gods above...

Yesterday, Michael Lo Sordo was one very happy guy. He found out that he was the recipient of the SOYA365 Fashion award for 2012. Not only does this mean he gets to feel like a general fashion lord (and rightfully so when past winners include local design greats Dion Lee, Romance Was Born, Antipodium and Friedrich Gray) but he also gets $5000 in cold hard cash, a trip to attend London Fashion Week which will no doubt involve the rubbing of shoulders with international industry insiders, plus a 12-month mentorship with Nicky and Simon Zimmermann. Woah!

Having shown at RAFW for the last four years, Michael Lo Sordo has become known as a label for a flowy, floaty, feminine aesthetic with tailoring elements and dynamic cuts to toughen it up. His Spring / Summer collection presented at RAFW last year saw the models (who included Julia Nobis) drift down the runway in delicate dresses and digital prints. Oyster caught up with the designer on the back of his win.

Melissa Kenny: Previous winners of the SOYA award have experienced great successes, with the mentorship component of the prize being invaluable. You must be pretty chuffed to be working alongside Nicky and Simone Zimmermann! What do you most love about Zimmermann?
Michael Lo Sordo: There is an undying love that fuels the Zimmerman fire which is so inspiring and I really admire the brand. Not to mention they are both gorgeous women!

In my opinion, your aesthetic pivots on a backbone of polished elegance. What was it that drew you to design clothes that are, generally speaking, of a classic and sophisticated execution?
A very wise and very talented woman once said to me that "less is more" and that really resonated with me. I've always had an attention to detail that wasn't fussy in aesthetic but complicated in design, structure and form. My love for the construction and quality of clothing inspires me but I guess you could call it design OCD – very clean and minimal.

You've shown at RAFW for years now to impressive acclaim. Now you're set to take on London! What excites you about the London fashion scene?
Everything... The streets are alive with art and culture and there is a bigger and broader appreciation and understanding of design and fashion. Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to scope out the scene but also to build on relationships with new buyers and media whilst I'm there.

What are your plans when you return home?
I'll be working, working and working a bit more. I'm also off to NYC prior to London as we are showcasing our new Autumn / Winter collection as part of The Australian Five and G'Day-USA (sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation), so it's a great start to 2012.

What do you think attributed to your success in the competition? Any wise words to impart to other budding designers out there?
The judges want to see not only something that is innovative in design but they also want to see a successful business model and its potential. Designing is only 10% of what I do now, the rest is business, baby! So I guess for the young and budding designers, they need to show not only their innovative and original design skills but also how their business can grow and develop to the next stage. This award is a guiding hand from the fashion gods above so there needs to be potential beyond the fashion.

We'd also like to send a shout out to the other designers who made the SOYA365 Fashion shortlist ? Trimapee, Alex Trimmer, Mr. Carter, Thursday Sunday, Anne Tu, Jamie Lee Major, Emma Mulholland (who penned as one of our fresh new faces of 2011), Johnny Schembri, Amelia Agosta and Sarah Schofield. SOYA365 is still open for submissions in the categories of Animation, Architecture and Interior Design, Craft and Object Design, Film and Video, Interactive Gaming, Music, Photography, Visual Arts, Visual Design and Communications, and Written Word, with one new category closing each month of this year.