Seneca News

Sori Park and Jair Castillo
Sori Park (left) won the grand prize of the Pantone Color of the Year Fashion Design Contest while Jair Castillo was the only Canadian selected as a finalist for the Hempel Award. (Photos: submitted)

April 29, 2021

Two Fashion Arts students dazzled judges with their original designs at two recent prestigious international competitions.

Sori Park is the grand prize winner of this year’s Pantone Color of the Year Fashion Design Contest. The third-year international student from Korea could hardly believe it when she received the email from Pantone informing her of the news.

“I thought it was a scam,” she said. “I showed my professor the email and realized it was the real thing. I called my cousins, my mom and every single member of my family.”

Ms. Park, who worked as a pattern-maker in Korea for two years before coming to Seneca, created six outfits using the six colours from Pantone’s Enlightenment palette. Titled A Brighter Tomorrow, the collection is influenced by traditional Korean clothing, architecture and furniture designs, while also drawing inspiration from the pandemic and the hope to overcome it.

“The colours represent both hardship and hope to show that there will always be a rainbow after the storm,” she said.

Ms. Park created her sketches using Adobe Illustrator, a tool she learned and mastered at Seneca. It took her three days to sketch the outfits, which she then used as the basis for her graduation collection.

As a part of her prize, Ms. Park has received the Pantone Fashion, Home + Interiors Cotton Swatch Library, valued at US$8,400. 

“I want to be a fashion designer,” she said. “This will help me choose colours for my next collection.”

Jair Castillo, also in his third year of the Fashion Arts program, was recently selected as a finalist for the Hempel Award, as part of the 29th China International Young Fashion Designers Contest, which took place during China Fashion Week.

Mr. Castillo was the only Canadian designer selected and the only Black designer in the competition. His work was showcased on the runway as part of the show in Beijing.

“I watched it virtually — that was crazy,” he said. “I got nervous when I saw the flashing lights and how many people were there. My mom started screaming beside me when my stuff came on the runway.”

Mr. Castillo began working on his collection last summer, when he delved into the music of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer and Mr. Schafer’s book The Soundscape.

“He’s my favourite composer and his Epitaph for Moonlight stuck with me,” Mr. Castillo said. “I just listened to the music and whatever it made me feel, I drew to it. I did 150 sketches. I was really obsessed.”

Growing up in a musical household, Mr. Castillo played trumpet from Grade 6 to high school and was part of the Hannaford Street Silver Band. He has met Mr. Schafer and, when he was 16 years old, played one of his pieces at Luminato Festival Toronto.

“I wanted a different way of telling stories and creating narratives,” said Mr. Castillo. “I’ve always been interested in fashion but have never thought about being a designer until I did my research. After that I wanted to connect design with my music background.”

Mr. Castillo’s collection for the Hempel Award was focused on music and composition, and it played into this year’s competition theme of Hard Candy Youth. After learning that his sketches were accepted for the runway show, Mr. Castillo had just three weeks to create four pieces from scratch.

“It all started hitting me once I saw my stuff on the runway,” he said. “I never really thought about doing a fashion show, but I liked how it looked for my brand. It changed my whole perspective on my career.”

Through a Seneca pathway, Mr. Castillo will be entering the final year of University of Gloucestershire’s fashion design degree program this fall. And he’s already thinking about his next collection and the story he wants to tell.

“Sometimes you think you are alone with your story, but then you realize everyone has something to say,” he said. “You just have to keep going with your narratives, just keep doing what you are doing.”