James Dimech is an unassuming, no-nonsense man who has used his talents and skills not only to fulfil his dreams, but to overcome obstacles and to help others. A talented interior designer and a passionate fashion designer, he is also a sensitive philanthropist and keen animal lover. He is an energetic, eclectic creative who burns the candle at both ends as innovative projects fill his every waking hour. He sleeps late, wakes up early and dreams of fitting in more hours into his day.
Photo credit: Bernard Polidano
His passion for design and harmony was apparent from the start and he has always claimed he was born knowing what he would do with his life – interior design. He gained entry to a Bachelor of Arts & Design course at the tender age of 15. James then went on to nurture his talent studying in Italy.
On his return to Malta, he has been responsible for the design of many large-scale projects, up-market offices and outlets for prestigious international clients and brands. However, James Dimech has a soft spot for humbler projects, as his creed is that every house is somebody’s home. His creativity, as well as the care and attention to detail James Dimech is renowned for, is appreciated by many.
Eve: In some of your past designing you used materials that have had a previous life, like used metal caps from hundreds of cat food containers. One particular dress has been exhibited abroad and attracted international acclaim and recognition for your contribution to using waste materials. Can you tell us more about this venture?
Photo credit: Justin Ciappara
James Dimech: [After] my very successful debut in the world of fashion design, I started creating Wearable Art – beautiful clothes made mostly from recycled and sustainable materials. My first origami dress utilising recycled magazine paper was an instant success and I was immediately inundated with positive feedback. This led to being approached to design and create a dress from recyclable material to represent Malta in Miss Eco International, an international beauty contest which took place in Egypt in 2017. Here, out of 80 international contestants the Maltese participant wearing my creation stood out for the inventiveness and elegance. The hooded full-length evening dress looks like an elegant female version of shiny chainmail, but it is actually made up of pull-tabs from cat food cans. The skirt line pattern utilises shiny paper strips cut manually from dry cat food bags, while cat food tins are used as wrist bangles supported by chain-linked pull-tabs from the shoulders.
Eve: Your incredibly intricate garments from waste paper are so admired for your commitment to creativity. What is their secret?
JD: In 2018 I presented a number of my original dress designs, made totally of sustainable materials, at an event which was held by the National Alliance for Rare Diseases. This activity aimed to create awareness and collect funds for the Marigold Foundation.
My last collection, called The White paper Star, took life on the catwalk featuring origami folds, and a combination of paper cuts and weaves. The fashion show organised by The Chamber of Fashion Malta Foundation called International Evening of Culture Through Fashion was held in aid of The Community Chest Fund. International designers also participated during this event. Each piece was handmade in a process that might be described as analogue. It is constructed using only the most basic of sewing tools. The focus of my work is the incorporation of three-dimensional sculptural forms into fashion exploring and solving the relationship between the organic human forms and the geometric forms created by a variety of folding patterns. I chose to work with paper, a material with a life of its own, which sometimes leads me to surprising results. I confirm that I love working with paper because it is unpredictable and offers a constant challenge.
Photo credit: Ahmed Arafa
Eve: What has been the single greatest challenge in your career so far?
JD: Every time I start a new project I put so much heart in it that is always a challenge. I always say to myself that this is going to be hard. But yet again when it’s over and I move on to a new one I repeat myself like a dejavu.
Eve: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
JD: Life thought me not to make long term plans, ‘cause the best of things happen when you least expect them. However I love to dream, and dream a lot. Keeping my feet on the ground, I guess in 10 years time I will still be surrounded with animals to feed.