Last week Level 2 Fashion Design students toured the amazing collections at the Vintage Showroom in Conlan Street, London for one-off details and unique menswear construction.
Level 1 students gathered a visual feast of ideas for colour, yarn, fabric, shape and themes from the V&A, Soho and Dover Street Market in London.
Printed Textiles Student Ellie Bennewith offers us an insight into the experience she gained through the Industry Placement Module.
During my second year I was exposed to multitude of exciting roles within the textile industry. Two roles that I’ve explored within printed textiles were working with the team at Fairbairn and Wolf Studio (FWS) and designing in-house for a week with Blendworth Interiors.
I really enjoyed my time at FWS (a freelance studio based in Peckham) not only did I learn a lot about the industry but I learnt what it’s like to be part of a design team and create relationships with other designers. My week at Blendworth Interiors was a completely different atmosphere because fashion is much faster than interiors. The pace was much slower, which, allowed designers to have more time to consider and create stories for each of their designs. I think I preferred the faster pace as FWS, it was ‘mental’ at times but I left the studio proud of what I had achieved. This has really helped me to discover which area of the textile industry I would like to go into. I think, before my placement, I was definitely leaning towards interiors but now I like the intensity of the fashion industry.
This experience has been invaluable to my development as a designer. On reflection, I have developed key skills that will make me more employable, such as, improving my CAD skills and developing a commercial hand on screen and paper. I built on my transferrable skills as I listened to feedback to improve my independent work but also experienced what it is like to work within a design team – an experience which cannot be replicated at university.
I’ve been exposed to experiences that can only happen on placement, like the preparation for tradeshows and getting to assist a client. Through working with FWS I’ve become more aware of culture impacting the concept of taste, as a result it has forced me to work out of my comfort zone and develop an awareness of how the textile industry works on a global scale. This will have a significant impact on my studies when I enter my third year as I will recognise and be able to produce a cohesive collection demonstrating a variety of skills.
Before I started my placement, I had my reservations, I was afraid to start in a new environment with completely new people. But the experience was far better than I expected, I loved doing the Placement Module. After being in education all my life, it was a fantastic opportunity to try something different and have a taste of what life could be like after I graduate. For such a long time I convinced myself that all I wanted to do, once I left education, is travel around the world before the stress of getting a job. Since my placement, my opinion changed, the prospect of getting a job in an industry that I love is more exciting than travelling. Something I never thought I would say!!
Tell us about your collection
‘We See Creature Folk’ is a body of work which explores and illustrates several narratives through print and pattern. These stories portray social justice messages and are told through the creation of creatures and locations. Inspired heavily by both primitive and folk art; the collection supports the idea of something being created with a purpose but also being appreciated as art itself as well as having a very handcrafted feel. ‘We See Creature Folk’ is primarily aimed at children, however, each design’s purpose is multi-functioning through all ages, genders, and final functions and purpose. The printed textile collection spans further than just a fashion range aiming to work as a lifestyle range with endless possibilities for its reproduction in various products such as: ceramics, storybooks, badges, masks, costumes, mobiles and wall hangings. The relationship between shape, form, colour and figurative illustrations moulded this collection, working as an exploration of how illustration and pattern intertwine.
What were the highs and lows through creating your collection?
A really exciting moment during the creation of this collection was the inception of my concept – it was an idea that really meant something to me and something I was passionate about. That extra bit of researching meant I had an idea that I could really go for it with and I didn’t need to worry about tiring of my idea.
Something that was difficult throughout FMP was keeping going and not running out of puff, especially when it feels like you’re running out of time with so much to do. However, even though it’s a cliché, it all does come together in the end!
Another high from my project was shooting all of my fabrics for my Look book, it was so nice after all those months of working on the designs to see everything coming to life. It was also really fun to get creative with shoot ideas.
Any advice for students following in your footsteps?
Try to get at least one internship whilst at university! It does wonders for your confidence and the more you have when you leave the easier it will be to find a job as you’ll have invaluable experience!
Also, just continue working through – even though you may want to slow down or give up in a project. You only get to do it once so you may as well make the most of being at uni’ and having all the feedback – that is probably the thing I’m going to miss the most! With that in mind take as much work to your tutors as you can during tutorials. The more you have the more they can help you!
Tell us about your collection
My Graduate Collection titled “The New Primitive” is a contemporary womenswear collection, focusing on innovative textile techniques and intricate detailing. I drew my initial inspiration from George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’, I was influenced by the concept of higher authorities watching and tracking movement of others, and how aspects of Orwell’s vision can be seen in modern society. I wanted to question the idea of whether we are becoming a complete surveilled state; and whether the result of the new digital age will cause our identities to be tracked and coded by binary codes instead of the qualities that make us human.
I was influenced by a variety of contemporary artists such as Nam June Paik, Stan Vanderbeek and Addie Wagenknecht who use themes of surveillance and digital technology in their work. I was particularly influenced by sociological artist Hervé Fischer’s exhibition in Paris, whereby he responded to a variety of digital and binary codes through his paintings. The quote “a return to painting is needed to withstand the dissolving flow of bytes by freeze framing. Like primitive man, I paint icons of the emerging digital age” was my initial inspiration behind my wish to reflect and develop the idea of having to respond to digital codes in an almost primitive nature. I wanted to react to digital sources in a more organic way, by the use of traditional techniques such as, hand weaving and hand stitching. I tried to combine these traditional methods with innovative and digitally enhanced techniques to create a juxtaposition and give my collection a contemporary edge.
What were the highs and lows through creating your collection?
Initially I found the thought of starting my Final Major Project quite overwhelming, as everything I had learnt over the last 3 years of University had always led to this point. I was nervous at the possibility of not being proud of the work I produced, and worried about whether I would be able to deal with the pressure of creating a final collection. Therefore, the first few weeks of FMP were probably the hardest in terms of feeling confident in the theme I had chosen. I struggled with finding a colour story that was interesting and reflected in my research imagery. However, once I was happy with this I was able to generate my ideas and textile samples quickly and started to see the beginnings of my collection take shape. As with any project there were things that went wrong at times during my FMP, often in terms of construction as I was determined to try to finish my garments as professionally as possible. I therefore had to problem solve and trial many finishing techniques which proved challenging along with having to deal with various time pressures and deadlines. However, the high points were definitely catching sight of my collection coming together and ultimately noticing how each outfit worked with the next. Some of the techniques I had chosen took me many days to produce, so seeing these slowly taking shape into a garment was really exciting. The main high point was definitely seeing my collection on the catwalk at the London show.
What have you learnt from creating it?
I think the main thing that I’ve learnt is that if you push yourself and work as hard as you possibly can you may well be successful in producing garments that would have seemed too overwhelming or challenging at first. I eventually succeeded in creating a collection with a variety of textile techniques such as hand weaving, pleating, hand stitching, digital printing and laser cutting all of which were a challenge and seemed daunting at first. However when you step back and just focus on each task individually it’s surprising what you can manage to produce within the time frame.
Any advice for students filling in your footsteps?
Push yourself and stay true to your brand identity! Your final collection is the last thing you will create at University so it’s important to be proud of what you have produced and be excited and confident about showcasing it to industry post graduation. Going that extra mile is most definitely worth it in terms of standing out among the hundreds of design graduates! For me, that meant dedicating time to create innovative techniques and textiles and spending time organising a photoshoot and fashion film that best showcased my collection and related to my overall concept and theme. I feel that the little extra touches such as a strong portfolio and a fashion film will really help when it comes to being noticed when applying for jobs as it shows that I have put thought into every aspect of the design process. Choosing a concept that you feel hugely passionate about and excited to research is very important, as, it makes the design process so much more enjoyable. Lastly, try to manage your time well and stick to the various deadlines and time pressures as this will help you keep on top of the large work load. Final Collection is the biggest challenge but also the most exciting one, enjoy it as it’s all over far too quickly!
When talking to final year BA Printed Textiles student Rosie Franklin, it is really insightful to get to know her as a designer and to learn the story and background behind her final collection titled ‘The Loser’s Salon’.
Interview by Lewis Evans
Taking inspiration from creators like Patty Smith and a trip to the picturesque scenery of New Zealand Rosie invented her own magical town based on the story of her childhood, of a time when her Gran would joke about being a witch and the superstitious events that would happen on a daily basis on her suburban farm.
Rosie has been able to pull in all her favourite hobbies and inspirations in order to create a collection that is true to showing who she is as a designer, and, she has had fun doing it. Her wacky and extravagant illustrations make this collection stand out and her colour scheme is something to die for. In order to make things even more fun, Rosie organised and ran life drawing events, which, in turn, helped keep the inspiration flowing and gave others a taste of her eccentric mind and design process.
What I personally love most about talking to Rosie is her enthusiasm and excitement towards her work, there is just so much emotion and personal attachment to her work that she radiates passion and happiness. She was able to use traditional screen printing skills in order to create an illustrated aesthetic and said that she is so happy that Winchester School of Art has the resources to carry out what she loves and that it will be something that she misses when she goes into the wider world.
I am super excited to see Rosie’s Final collection and even more excited to see what she achieves in the future.
Taking inspiration from her childhood in Vancouver, final year Fashion Design Student Abigail Skrentny is able to create a collection that really shows her understanding of the freedom of childhood.
Interview by Lewis Evans
In her graduate collection, Abi studies the contrast of the ‘prep’ girl against suburban American ‘freedom’ based partly on the story of her father who grew up in suburban Chicago before moving to an English boarding School.
Further inspiration comes from films like The Florida Projectwhich explore the idea of childhood freedom and captures the essence and resilience of being a child. Abi explains that its not childhood she attempting to get across but the idea of not caring about what people think of you and doing ‘it’ anyway. Abi decided to use a minimal colour scheme of rich purple, strong green and a mixed range of pinks, partly, based on childhood pictures of snowsuits.
Abi explained that she’s inspired by real people, she prefers a quiet story compared to an extraordinary story, to some seeming boring but to her really standing out. Abi’s design process includes gathering a huge amount of her research and continuously drawing as she keeps changing and developing her ideas until she designs something that she’s proud of.
I asked Abi “Are you happy with your collection so far?”, she replied with “not yet, I always like to develop and improve my work, it’s the smaller things that I get pleasure from like sewing a perfect seem or figuring how to create something that I found quite difficult. By not being completely satisfied with your work it pushes you to work harder and helps you to overcome challenges”.
Abi’s advice to any other upcoming fashion design student is don’t be afraid of a challenge. By experimenting with different materials and techniques she is able to develop and grow as a designer. By taking her own style and spending some time on strengthening her weaknesses helps her to prepare for a future job within the fashion industry.
On Monday 11 June 2018, Winchester School of Art (WSA) Fashion & Textile Design final year students will present their graduate collections.
The event is a fantastic opportunity to view the work of our emerging talent in a commercial setting alongside members of industry and press.
We are very proud that this event has supported our graduates in their long history of employability, working with companies such as… Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Liberty London, Skinny Dip, Top Shop, H&M, Dazed Digital, Chloé, Peter Jensen, Collection 18, Jenny Packham, Kath Kidston, Cole & Sons, Erdem, i-D magazine, Urban Outfitters, Net-A-Porter and others.
View previous collections on Vogue.co.uk.
For more information contact the programme leader Cecilia Langemar on email@example.com