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Interview: Jane Bowler

Thursday 11 December 2014

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Words Ailis Mara

Jane Bowler is an explorative designer who constantly discovers innovative processes and materials for her fashion collections. Yes, she has used a shower curtain before… Transforming everyday items such as this into wearable, or sometimes not so wearable, pieces is what has allowed Bowler to shine.

Jane Bowler’s SS15 collection is full of sculpturally exciting pieces, with a sporty twist. To mark the occasion of the upcoming collection, Bowler has collaborated with animator Alice Dunseath to create a video that highlights the processes and materials used by Bowler in her creation process. Using art, science and textile concepts to create a breathtaking montage of footage, which is currently being screened at the Victoria and Albert Museum until December 19th.

Your SS15 collection really is ‘wearable art’ with a lot of different techniques, textiles and 3D-ness. What was the inspiration behind the designs for this season’s pieces?

The inspiration behind the SS15 collection, like most of my collections comes from the materials and processes. I have an idea about a process and some materials that I want to try and the pieces tend to grow from that. For example this season, we began cutting out the diamond shapes and started to play around with rivets and that’s how the gold dress came to be.

Did you have a particular vision?

Sporty and sculptural.

A lot of your work is hand-made, is this something you prefer to do where possible?

Everything is handmade and created in my Stratford studio, I always use sustainable materials.

The gold structured dress looks so intricate! Talk us through the process of making it…

This was a very time consuming piece to make, in fact I think we were all seeing gold by the time it was finished.

It was made up of singular shapes that were constructed in to multiples which was then built up on to the mannequin. We didn’t actually know what the dress was going to look like when we started, it just grew in shape as we added more multiples.

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What was the reasoning behind this mixture of styles where the sporty collided with the sculpture-esque pieces?

I wanted to bring together two very different themes.

You also design plastic jewellery, would you ever develop this aspect of your work further?

Every season I continue to design a range of accessories in line with the collection. This includes jewellery, headwear, handbags and in some of my earlier collections footwear as well.

I really love the backpack we made for the SS15 collection. It’s really unusual.

You’ve conducted lectures, teaching and creative workshops. So your inspiration doesn’t just stop at your designs. Is this something you feel strongly about?

I really enjoy conducting workshops as it gives me an opportunity to pass on my knowledge and inspire people to get creative with what ever materials they want. Garments can be made of anything. In my first collection I used a shower curtain.

We have a really exciting two day work shop coming up in January. I am collaborating with my knitwear designer Heather Orr, it’s a really unique workshop called ‘Construction Lab’.

And maybe influencing young people to get involved in textile design?

I really enjoy teaching young people, this year I have spent some time teaching first year university students and it’s been so great working with them. It’s great to see their ideas and watch them develop.

Have you got any words of wisdom based on your experiences?

Work hard and follow your dreams.

Is there anything exciting coming over the horizon for the brand?

We are currently experimenting with some unusual materials using some really excited techniques and processes, I’m really excited about the next collection.

And finally, if you were to wear one of your pieces to a Christmas party, which would it be?

I’d wear the floor length macrame dress, it’s sporty chic!

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