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Fashion Graduate: Elena Crehan

Wednesday 30 November 2011

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Words Spindle

With a strong emphasis on textiles we interview our next graduate on the GFW trail, Elena Crehan. Crehan brings a childlike element to her techniques that bring to mind making Christmas bunting on the last day of school, yet as twee as that may seem she has managed to turn it chic with a focus on monochrome colours and a desirable silhouette….

Congratulations on graduating how do you feel?
I am pleased that this chapter has come to a close! I am really proud of my collection and looking forward to new things however, I am sad to be leaving my friends and the university lifestyle.

What was the inspiration behind your final collection?
Do You Think Shesaurus?! is a capsule collection with a strong textiles focus derivative of child’s play and children’s handicraft techniques. I experimented with lots of different types of home crafts like potato printing, paper folding, collage and knot tying in preparation. I was also inspired by the Memphis group and children’s wear as well as Mexican dolls and 3-d paper sculptures.

Describe the key features of your collection?
The hand worked Stegasaur pleating technique has been used obsessively throughout to create a geometric silhouette while remaining true to original research in Mexican dolls, corn dollies and the proportions of children’s wear.

What were you listening to whilst spending many a night at the sewing machine?
We always had Absolute 90’s on in the studio so I had a bit of a renaissance with 90’s music like Pulp and TLC. I was also listening to lots of El Guincho thats good night time music and also  RadioLab and This American Life; two American radio stations which tell stories about interesting American people, they are always weird and wonderful and very entertainingly informative.

Who do you consider to be a real fashion pioneer?
Bjork because not only does she always look great but she passionately cares about all aspects of fashion; art, concept and clothes!

Have you completed any work experience or industry collaborations? How were they?
Yup. I had a year out in between 2nd and 3rd year; I started off by interning at Alexander McQueen where I worked on the pre SS2010 collection and the SS2010 ‘Platos Atlantis’ Collection. I was really lucky at McQueen as I got on really well with the Womenswear team so I was offered lots of exciting opportunities like making a mask for a special project for Dazed and Confused Magazine, I was involved with all stages of the design process from research to stitching final garments and I was also lucky enough to assist fittings which meant I was able to watch Lee McQueen drape on a live model. Interning at Alexander McQueen was really hard work and long hours but I absolutely loved every minute of it and learnt a massive amount. I then went to India to intern for a traditional block printing company called Anokhi. Again this was amazing living and working with a great company who treat all their workers with the up most respect and do a lot of work keeping traditional Rajasthani crafts going. I then went back to McQueen to work on what became Lee’s final collection, and I also interned at Nicole Farhi and Hussein Chalayan for shorter periods of time.

What is your most treasured fashion possession? 
While interning at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton gave me a sample cashmere red dress with an attached scarf and an S-Bend skirt. I feel like a million dollars when I wear it and treasure it. I also have a vintage leather box bag which I love. My grandmother gave it to me. It has an embossed flower on it which only grows in County Claire in Ireland where my Dad grew up.

Favourite book?
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salmon Rushdie. It’s been my favourite since I was about 8 and I have read it hundreds of times. It’s a beautiful colourful book of the stories Rushdie told his son at bath time about a story teller who loses his ability to tell stories so his son takes him on an adventure to find his talent. It is great!

Favourite Artist?
Toulouse Lautrec because he always paints fantastic redheads!

Your favourite moment in Fashion?
I was interning at Alexander McQueen when Lee passed away, although this is not my favourite moment, it was an extremely important and poignant moment in fashion history and it’s probably the moment that has had the biggest impact on me personally.

Who would you most like to see in your creations?
I want real girls to wear my clothes.

Do you have any words of wisdom that you could pass on to 1st or 2nd year students, leading up to their final collections?
Drink Barocca when you’re running out of steam because it gives you the best pick me up! And stick to your guns, in the run up to final collection you have loads of different tutors giving you often conflicting advice and sometimes you lose yourself a bit. My advice is to listen to what everybody has to say but make sure you are doing what you really want to do with it, in the end it’s your collection. Also remember that it’s your first collection not your last, that helps take the pressure off a bit.

Whats Next?
I will be starting a Masters at Central Saint Martins this year which I’m really excited about it, terrified also;  but definitely excited about continuing to design and develop as a designer. I have lots of ideas which I didn’t get to explore fully on my BA so I am looking forward to experimenting and creating lots of new pieces.