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Spindle Meets London College of Fashion

Tuesday 05 May 2015
Words Ailis Mara

Spindle got the chance to catch up with some of the final year London College Of Fashion Students the other week, we explore how the industry has developed since the time they started their course, what to expect from their final projects and just how fashion influences their lives.

From an array of courses, these LCF students have been working on womenswear, menswear, footwear, textile design, knitwear, jewellery and more for years. Spindle get to know them that little bit more…

 

HARRIETT BROWN
BA Fashion Textiles: Embroidery

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Tell me about the creative process…

Originally, I’d seen this artist that at Saatchi, it reminded me of my Dad’s drawings from when he was younger and I got thinking about my Dad. He’s really dyslexic, he can’t read or write or anything and at the same time my brother’s school took out art from GCSE. It just shocked us all, it’s what we had done as a family forever.

I wanted to really hammer home, ‘why are devaluing art?’. I got my Dad to make this catapult and he came back with this massive catapult. Not everyone can do that, so obviously art is important. But it all stemmed from there. When I started my project, it’s literally like everyone at home come and help me, it’s a proper collaboration between my whole family and I wanted that for my last collection. I wanted a celebration of everything that I love. That’s what it came from really, it’s not very complicated.

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Why do you think art is so important for the mind? And there is also a lot of talk now, and people recognising, how the arts can help those with mental health issues, is that something you thought about?

100%. I just didn’t understand how a school could take art out, my brother is youngest of us all and there are four of us and we’ve all done art. We didn’t know how they could do it. We’ve all got dyslexia, apart from him, but this is what we felt good doing. if at school, we didn’t have art, I wouldn’t be at university. It really got me shocked. I genuinely believe being creative at school can help any other lessons. If you’re the top scientists you have to be innovative in some way, you have to create something of your own, I really believe art is the foundation of that.

What are these pieces going to transform into?

What we’re wanting, I’m in collaboration with a knitwear student, it’s going to be really simple, a really plain shape, a box shape and it’s going to be full of embroidery.

What I originally did was all of these drawings of a celebration of colour and wanting it bold, this big block thing. But in all of this embroidery and I’m going to use a bit of print as well, it’s going to be a mixture of print and texture. There’s going to be bits hanging off. I wanted to celebrate the pocket, but in a different way, hiding them.

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Did you go to any exhibitions for research?

I just went to Saatchi because I love it, I know everyone says it but I do love it there. It’s so clean and simple and all the stuff that I do when I’m doing my research is there. It’s just what I love, and that’s where I really got a lot of inspiration.

 

XIAOQI LIU
BA Fashion Jewellery

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I got the idea from Japanese culture called Wabi-Sabi, which is something that is imperfect or has a really perfect shape with an imperfect part. My idea is to use burnt wood to intimate people getting old, like the wrinkles on the body.

In Wabi-Sabi, imperfect is not a thing that is bad, it’s a thing to show your experience. I think it is a really valuable thing, which is why I’ve used burnt wood and then put crystals on it to make it really valuable and show how the imperfections work. all the shapes are round. Round is a kind of perfect shape. I tried really hard to make it really natural to show how people appreciate getting old and it’s a good thing.

Has your personal style influenced what you wanted to do?

Yes, my style isn’t really fashion style, it’s a kind of between the fine jewelry and fashion jewelry. I’m really interested in all the details and all the hand details. All these pieces are made by hand.

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Have you been influenced by any films or music?

I was inspired by some of the books about how the Wabi-Sabi culture, I read a lot about what it was about and where it comes from, I felt like that was really interesting. I saw a building that was really old too, one that was in ruins, this was my first inspiration. Something which is really old and it’s not commercial, not contemporary but that lasts for a long time.

What was the last thing you bought for yourself from a shop?

I bought a little necklace, a small one with a white ceramic circle. The style is really similar to my pieces.

What are you doing after you graduate?

I will go to the MA course to carry on with my studies. I don’t think I have enough skills or ability yet. I really enjoy learning.

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ROSA EKLUND
BA Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear

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I’m collaborating for the press show with this textile girl, we’re working excellently together, it’s so much fun. So the collection is like me trying to find my tribe and reconnecting with where I’m from, a tiny island outside Sweden. Everything is stoney, windy and all away from the sun. It came from an angry place, I found that I was fed up with the fashion industry and the feeling of having to please, as a woman in particular. It’s all kind of moody and dark.

It’s quite a masculine collection.

It is. I wanted it to be really strong, earthy base, grounded, almost like you can live in them, survive outside in them.

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Do you think that’s something that the fashion industry doesn’t provide for women at the minute? That they aren’t focusing on strong women?

I see too many little cutesy things all the time that are just pretty. I want something that feels solid around your body and makes you stronger, like literally. Little superhero women.

Should the future of fashion go in this direction?

I don’t know, I don’t want to be ‘everyone should do this’, but for me, yeah. I’ve struggled quite a lot with that, I feel like us women have been brought up having to try to please, acting in a certain way, I want to break out of that a little bit. I want to shave my head, but then I didn’t because people would think stuff about me. They’d think all of things, it’s difficult to cope with, having to wear makeup. Not that you have to, but you feel like you do. I was struggling with stuff.

Is fashion a way of expressing that?

Definitely. It has such a power to how you feel and how women feel especially. I wanted it to be for an imaginary utopian world where you don’t have to answer to so much, size and gender.

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Are there are books that you’ve read that, as a woman, has given you the power to design these? 

“We are all more alike than different. What unites us all is the sea, the rain, our needs, our desires and longings, the fight against death” – Albert Camus.

Another thing I’m against is when people say ‘all women are like that’ ‘all men are like that’, I really like this quote saying that we are all more alike than different. We can all connect, we don’t have to put boarders up, “you don’t understand me” because you’re a man or a woman. I like that one.

 

EMILY GRIEVES
BA Fashion Textiles: Knitwear

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And

MARIANNE TSE-LAURENCE
Fashion Design and Development: Menswear

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What was your creative process for this project?

Emily: It was kind of about a place of origin, I went back to where my parents of from, which was Sunderland, and was drawn to give to a region identity through the knitwear. I was inspired by a fisherman’s jersey sweater and how they used to inscribe the knit with initials and symbols that related back to the community and back to the families, so when fishermen got lost they could be found and taken back to the area they came from.

I took words and symbols from Sunderland, colloquial words like “haway the lads” and inscribed the knit with things like that. It’s communicative knitwear, it tells a story in a way and gives you a personal connection towards the knitwear.

It’s going to be a collection, but I’m collaborating as well. We’re also working with fur and doing some fur garments. It’s a very workingman collection.

Marianne: We’re both basing it on our home fishing towns, I’m from Fleetwood, near Blackpool. That’s where all the silhouettes are coming from, and the fabrics and getting this emotional relationship woven in. there is a lot of texture along with the whole thing.

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Why did you want to focus on your hometown?

Marianne: Because it was our final collection, I knew it had to be something that I was really passionate about and keep me enthusiastic throughout the entire year. It is quite a rundown little town, especially small fishing towns that have started as a fishing town and now the fishing industry is non-existent in England. Its desolate and a bit sad, all my initial research was taking all the dark clothes, it’s got this somber mood going with it. I wanted to make something a bit more beautiful out of something sad.

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Is there any music that would run alongside it to match the somber mood? 

Marianne: Maybe the scoring for Submarine that Alex Turner did, that small-town but coming-of-age, really British feel. All of our yarns are British, and the British heritage theme that comes with it.

Do you think more designers should hone in on that element of British heritage and help to bring it back?

Marianne: Yeah, definitely. There are elements of trying to bringing the British industry back to life. It is hard because you have the competition of the Far East. Margaret Howell tries to do local stuff and I think people really want to buy into their heritage. It gives the garments more of a story, and that’s what we both want, a story behind the pieces.

Are there any other designer collaborations that you’ve seen and been inspired by?

Emily: Comme Des Garcons did a collaboration with Junya Watanabe, that had a similar kind of vibe to this with distressed denim. Mainly, there was a lot of menswear designers that got me going like Keith Van Noten.

What was the last magazine you bought for yourself?

Emily: I think I bought Another Man recently, I buy Grey Magazine, that’s my favourite. I like the aesthetic of it, it’s a very classy, beautiful book and it get’s me designing.

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LAUREN BETOURNEY
BA Footwear: Product Design and Development

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So, you’re doing the footwear course…

Yeah. I started looking at virginity, femininity and exposure, exposing the body and then started looking at how our culture has sexualized and fetishized something like virginity which should be something that is quite pure actually. I looked at the two contrasting thoughts and how I could interwork them together as something pure and clear and not overt and disgusting. I looked at a lot of vaginas and hymens, interviewed a lot of people about their first times and stuff.

There are a lot of v shapes that are presented all through my work and it’s all a clean colour palette, nudes and peach colours. Keeping things effortless. My main thing, which I’ve always done, is to push the foot shape as well. My boarders on the fetish but it’s trying to remain luxury at the same time. I’m trying to creating something that is still wearable at the same time. I’ve created one where you’re actually over your toes, pushing the arch that you foot wouldn’t normally do.

All of the heels have a split, I’m going to be doing one that is completely exposed sole that will be cast in brass. They’ve all got a fine split, incredibly delicate. It’s all about exposure.

Is referring to social issues something that is important to you in your work?

Yeah, I want to address it and I want it to be obvious, but not so obvious that people go “that looks like a vagina”. They all relate back to the v shape in a way though.

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Who would you like to see wearing your designs? 

I mean, not particularly off the top of my head. I hate saying this, because it’s so overdone, but the only person who would these because you can’t walk in them, is Lady Gaga. You are on your toes, or it would have to be someone who danced and had that foot structure.

I would also love to get these shoes on Victoria Secret because they would actually do something with it. I think it would be really intriguing to see that.

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What’s the last book you read?

I read ‘The Purity Myth’ by Jessica Valenti, that was the one that I got into. Because I’m from America, a lot of that is quite a strong relationship. You have the whole project purity. It’s a whole thing about balls in the western culture and Christian communities where girls are now pledging and saying they’re going to remain pure and their dad’s date them. It’s this really weird culture and it’s something that has come up a lot recently in quite a few years. It’s more to do with books and my personal experiences, because I’m religious and I’m from the western culture. I’ve come here to an open and sexual, it’s something that is accepted more here. I’ve got both sides that some really religious people might not always get. That has been such huge role in how I’ve viewed this entire project more than anything.

 

CARA DUERDEN
BA Fashion Jewellery

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What made you want to study jewellery?

It seems such a long time ago now. I did a year of Fine Art at Falmouth University. I like fashion and I wanted to explore the technical side to discover different materials kind of to do with the body.

How have you used technology in your designs?

For this, I was looking at different tools and different trades and the relationship between the tools and the body and how they connect the maker to what their making. Basically, I’ve used a CNC machine so you design it on the computer and crosscut using the CNC machine, and using a glass blowing tool. You actually press them into the glass so you can model the glass how you want.

What are the tools?

They’re stonemason chisels. I want to show the importance of the tool, so I’ve used the actual materials you’d create the stone, so I’ve made the tools in the tone. You can hold them so there is this connection to your hand, how you use it and how it moulds into your hand.

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How do you think these pieces sit in a designer setting? Where would you see it?

More of a gallery setting.

Is it something that you were personally interested in before you thought about look at tools?

Yeah, I like the handmade, but I also like using technology and really responding to the material, because these are made out of bone.

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Was music were you listening to whilst designing?

Before my hand in, I was listening to James Bay quite a bit cause it’s chilled.

Do you think fashion is a way of expressing yourself?

I guess so, it shows what your style is and what you’re in to.

What magazines would you want to see your work featured in?

It’s not really fashiony, but Hole & Corner Magazine. I really like that magazine, because it looks at really different areas, product designer, fisherman, really weird things. I’m quite conceptual so I like to look at not really fashion, but things that influence me.