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Fashion

Meet The Singapore Educator And Headwear Designer Who's Dressed Lady Gaga

By day, Dinu Bodiciu teaches fashion at a top design and art institution in Singapore. Off duty, he is a designer through-and-through with hat-making as his calling and has even created a new collection, 'Domesticated Fetishes', over the circuit-breaker. Here, we get Bodiciu to walk us through his craft.

Dinu Bodiciu is a man of many hats – pun totally intended.

The past few weeks have seen the leader of the BA(Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles programme at Lasalle College of the Arts busy putting together the first virtual graduate show for the degree and honour-roll students.

Beyond that, the Romanian, who moved here six years ago, is an established designer in his own right. Establishing a fashion career upon graduating the London College of Fashion in 2011, Bodiciu dabbled in a variety of different creative fields within the industry before realising his calling as both a fashion educator and fashion and headwear designer.

Among the highlights of his career so far was when Lady Gaga donned the red ensemble from his graduate collection for her appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2011. Then there is his cameo on the big screen for The Hunger Games series in which the Avox characters wore his hat designs.

Fast track to the present day, the educator is still toying with headwear design on the sides, parlaying his subversive and futuristic aesthetic and exploratory nature as he uncovers and redefines how headwear can become integral in dressing up. While navigating the current new normal like many of us, he spent his spare moments besides “cooking and watching films with [his] partner” to construct a whole new collection entitled ‘Domesticated Fetishes’ that surrounds the notion of what his design process and current motions of life mean to him.

Above, we speak to Bodiciu who shares his perceptions and views as a thriving fashion educator and designer.

Photos Courtesy of Dinu Bodiciu & Christopher Agius Burke

Introduce yourself.
“I was born in Romania, and after studying two degrees there, one in Pharmacy and one in Graphic Design I further pursued a Master in Fashion Design at London College of Fashion. After graduating from the Masters I gained experience in the field by working in various sectors of the industry.   I started my own label of luxury baseball caps in parallel with teaching fashion design at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the UK. Six years ago I relocated to Singapore to join the Fashion Design team at Lasalle College of the Arts, where I lead the BA(Hons) Fashion Design and Textiles programme for the past three years.” On how he ended up on the design path of hat-making
“This is interesting. I followed the response from the public. For my Masters’s graduation collection, I decided to design headpieces and I experimented at home with some sinamay and card masks from the craft store.   This work then brought me to the final of the International Talent Support competition in Italy and from there I continued to focus my practice more towards headwear. I would not call myself a milliner, neither a hatter, as both practices have very clear sets of tools and processes of working.   I like very much to challenge the norms through the mix of techniques and materials that I use, from laser cutting to vacuum forming, digital and 3D printing, and maybe more techniques that the future might bring.   I am interested to approach headpieces as elements that can shape the body, not only accessorise it. I am experimenting with how headwear becomes an integral part of the body. I am also pleased that I passed on my passion for headwear to my students at Lasalle by introducing special workshops on hatmaking.” On where he derives his design inspiration
“Although ideas could come from anywhere, for me the material or the technique plays a more important role in the creative process. Sometimes ideas come when finding a new way of working with a material, or by learning about a new tool.   I really enjoy exploring and experimenting with materials and methods, combining the traditional with the digital. For example, for the baseball caps line, I combined methods of blocking hats in felt of sinamay with laser cutting acrylic trims.” On the concept behind his latest ‘Domesticated Fetishes’ collection
“This range actually gathers materials from previous collections which remained unused at the time. As I have always gathered and collected all the leftovers from works I do, the circuit-breaker was a great time for me to revisit all these materials I had, and think about new ways of using them.   I tried to work with most of the materials I had in pink (as that seemed to be the predominant colour across all materials I had) and found patterns and similarities that could bring together the pieces as a narrative, as a collection.” On the concept behind his latest ‘Domesticated Fetishes’ collection
“With regards to the title, it is related to the collection as a process, as a becoming, rather than trying to illustrate a particular concept. For me, the action of making designed artifacts is a passion, as expressed before.   In the process of making, I would argue that the material becomes somewhat fetishized, and by working from home, my practice became domesticated, like making coffee in the morning and cooking lunch in the afternoon, all in the same space.” On the highlights and challenges of hat-making
“Hat making is quite a costly practice, as it requires moulds and materials that are quite expensive. So starting out was not easy, but it still allowed space for creative solutions. Time is another aspect that brings this practice to a very slow pace – something that I quite enjoy. I personally believe that every challenge encountered is an incentive for creative response, learning, and growth.” On what makes a good design collaboration
“From designing headpieces for films, collaborating with artists, or with designers to complement their collections of garments, to teaching hat making, I find each experience a great achievement. From all my experience, clear and transparent communication is what makes a work grow beautifully and the collaboration successful.   I continued collaborations also in Singapore. For instance, I collaborated with (drag performer) Becca D’Bus (above) for the Space/Time collection, and in 2017 I worked together with Lee Mun Wai and Bani Haykal for the launching of Shadowear, a fashion performance at the National Museum in Singapore.”