James Dimech: 'My love of animals is something I want to be remembered for'

James Dimech is a Maltese designer who is trying to do things sustainably. His collection looks into the way fashion treats the environment, in terms of its resources, focusing on plastic waste specifically. 

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I usually give food to my cats who are in my face from before I open my eyes and if I’m lucky I manage to turn on the kettle for my coffee.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Not to do to others, what I wouldn’t want done to

What do you never leave the house without?

Cat food.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Dreamer, loyal, independent.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

At the moment my visit to Rome with my fashion collection made from recyclable material. It’s still fresh and I’m still absorbing all the good feedback. It was so overwhelming.  

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I can’t recall any. I don’t like chocolate; in fact, I don’t like sweets in general really.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Not to give up because every time you fail it only makes you stronger.  

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I don’t like buying expensive things for myself.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Maybe that what is obvious to me, is not necessarily obvious to others.

Who’s your inspiration?

Never had a specific person apart from my parents.  

What has been your biggest challenge?

In terms of work it would have to be my latest project, because it was a chance to improve and move on to something more challenging. Personally, rescuing stray animals has been a challenge.

If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be doing?

I don’t consider myself a fashion designer, I’m an artist and have worked as interior designer for the past 30 years. However, designing fashion is a passion of mine and I cannot see myself doing anything else.

Do you believe in God?

Yes, and I talk to him often. At the moment we’re on good terms, but we have had some conflicts in the past. Until I learned that everything happens for a reason and even if he has some strange ways of showing it, he is always there.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

With my mum – she passed away two years ago from heart failure. It was sudden and at a young age. I kept going for lunch at my mum’s even when I moved out and she used to sit next to me while I ate something. I still go everyday and eat something for lunch at mum’s house because I still feel her presence, but having dinner with her in the flesh would be fantastic.

What’s your worst habit?

This may sound silly but I cannot keep my feet still even when I’m sitting down. So if I’m at the cinema or sitting close to someone, I always get comments like ‘Stop moving your feet please’ or ‘tqabbadni n-nervi.’ I guess it can be considered a habit, right?

What are you like when you’re drunk?

It’s been ages since I got drunk. But from what I remember, I’m a fun drunk! The thing is, because I’ve been on medication for the last 25 years, it’s not really something I can do often.  

Who would you have play you in a film?

Raul Bova.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I cannot stand gossipers, liars and envious people.  

What music would you have played at your funeral?

I never thought of the music they would play, but this is a good opportunity to tell people. I have this short video of me feeding and playing with my rescued animals, and it would be nice if it was shown on the big screen during my funeral. My love of animals is something I want to be remembered for.

What is your most treasured material possession?

I tend to keep everything; I have boxes with stuff from my childhood which are full of gift notes. For me, everything has a bit of sentimental value. I’m a bit of a sentimentalist.

What is your earliest memory?

I think it was my first day of school; it was a church school. I remember I used to cry a lot until my parents gave up and sent me to a public school, which was for the best because I was much happier there. That being said, I still kept in contact with my kindergarten teacher and classmates.

When did you last cry, and why?

A few days ago when I was in Rome for a fashion show. I had 10 garments and nine of them fitted the models perfectly. The most elaborate garment was of a bigger size, and unfortunately none of the models could carry it. Thankfully, with just two hours to go before the show started, I was thrilled that the guest of honour, Jennifer Mischiati, an emerging actress with a film coming out in the cinemas shortly, agreed to wear it! She said she fell in love with my work and offered to model with one of my creations. The elaborate dress fitted her just right, like it was meant to be. At that moment, I fell to my knees and cried looking at the sky. It was such a relief after all of the tension that had been building over the last few days to just let go.

Who would you most like to meet?

Pope Francis.

What’s your favourite food?

Pasta, any pasta dish.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

No one in particular.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Most probably the Greek era. I have always been fascinated by the Greek gods.

What book are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on origami and fabric manipulation on the web but no books. I don’t have

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Manipulate minds. That way I would be able to get to all the people who are cruel to animals.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

I admit I would like to leave a foot print as an artist, but more importantly I want to make sure all my animals are being looked after when I’m gone.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Italian music mostly.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I don’t really have time to work out, much to my disappointment, and my showers are pretty quick.