Ninja D. Evangelista, from LCF MA Fashion Artefact, has been selected to showcase her creations from her very own jewellery brand Aeternum. She is part of UAL's Xhibit 2019, the annual exhibition that celebrates the next generation of creative talent, featuring work from 27 selected artists studying at different levels and from various disciplines across the 6 colleges. Ninja was chosen to display her very first piece designed for Aeternum, Mourning Rosary, a sentimental jewel made for her loved ones. We chatted with her about the experience of being selected for Xhibit 2019 and hear more about her design concept and her time at LCF as a Fashion Artefact postgrad student.
Hi Ninja. Congratulations on being selected for Xhibit 2019! How does it feel to know that you are part of UAL’s best emerging talent?
Thank you very much! There are no words to explain how I feel right now — the last few weeks have been so overwhelmingly good and surreal. I am really thankful and I have received so much positive and constructive feedback from the industry. It really showed me that you should always believe in the beauty of your dreams and never give up.
Can you tell us a bit more about your brand Aeternum and the philosophy behind it?
Aeternum comprises sentimental jewellery, heirloom treasure and is a homage to heritage, craftsmanship and digital technology. It's jewellery that reflects your legacy to the world, capturing certain chapters in your life and examining one of the most important questions that life has to offer: the journey of our own mortality.
I want to create sentimental jewellery and artefacts for my clients, dedicating time to research about their family history, hopes and dreams, and embed them in the design of their own Aeternum piece.
What made you decide to focus on creating mourning jewellery?
I started Aeternum as a very a personal journey, examining the moments between life and death through art. For me, mourning jewellery mirrored the lives and times of the people who wore it. It was a souvenir to remember a loved one, a reminder to the living of the inevitability of death. I also started it for myself, as a way to cope with grief after my dearest cousin died. She was an artist herself, a singer, and she inspired me to leave my own artistic footprint. With Aeternum, I believe I can create something beautiful and sentimental to deliver a message of hope, love and humanity.
Where do you get the inspiration from for your designs?
My masters research led me to explore the origin of mourning clothing, mourning jewellery and death masks from the Victorian era. I also examined their cultural aspects in Austria and the Philippines, reflecting a mix of my Western and Eastern heritage. This allowed me to create a contemporary interpretation of a sentimental jewellery with traditions of my own cultural heritage.
What is it like starting your own brand as a young entrepreneur?
I always knew that I wanted to become a designer, artist and entrepreneur one day. Creating and putting my visions into reality is my passion and I really cannot imagine doing anything else. Just before my 18th birthday, I made a bucket list with the things I wanted to experience and achieve before fully dedicating my life to build my own brand. Travelling at that time was the top priority — learning about life, history, people and culture during my trips was definitely very inspirational when creating the narratives of Aeternum and Dela Éva, my other brand.
Let’s talk about your time at LCF. What attracted you about this university?
After completing a summer Short Course in Fashion Design back in 2008, I decided that LCF was the university where I wanted to pursue my studies. Its world-class reputation, reflected on its alumni's success stories, and the way it allows you to push boundaries and nurture innovations makes LCF such a unique place. I knew it would help me to grow my artistic nature.
The knowledge of the teaching and technical staff, especially in Golden Lane, is incredible — shout out to my technical mentor Hannah Pittman. The support I've received from the Digital Lab is mind-blowing, and the projects I've been working on with specialist technician Kirk Rutter are beyond what I thought I could achieve with digital technology.
After finishing your BA in Cordwainers Fashion Bags and Accessories, what made you enrol in MA Fashion Artefact?
I always knew that after gaining experience in the industry and building my brand I would come back to LCF to do my Master’s Degree. The concept of the MA Fashion Artefact course is just so unique and not comparable to any other course in the world — its focus on craft and technology, exploring art and fashion and the pursuit of different materials methodologies, were some of the main reasons why I decided to do this course.
You moved from Austria to London for your studies. How have you found the experience of living in the capital?
Samuel Johnson was so right when he said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.“ I am in love with the living pulse of the metropolis, its rich offer of cultural diversity and its hidden gems. London is like a treasure map — you will always find new and hidden treasures in every corner.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who would like to become a jewellery designer?
No one will hand you success, you must go out and work for it. That’s why you are here, to dominate and to conquer the world and yourself! Never, ever give up and always be your unapologetic self.