As part of London Fashion Week, each season the British Fashion Council showcases collections by a curation of some of the UK’s most exciting designers, mixing big-name brands with up-and-coming talent. Open to press and fashion industry professionals, for S/S16 the Designer Showrooms exhibition previewed new styles by over 150 womenswear designers, across ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, bags and more.
We interviewed a number of exhibiting designers at the showrooms this season – first up, it’s Sarah Angold. A frequent favourite at LFW, RCA graduate Sarah launched her eponymous label in 2010, and soon became popular worldwide for her hyper-modern jewellery and accessories that are made reveal the intricate structural engineering that goes into each unique piece. In person she is energetic and irresistibly likeable, and it’s clear from her enthusiastic, fast-paced way of talking how passionately she feels about the industry she works in. Here Sarah reveals her thoughts on her S/S16 creations, her playlist of doom and the future of wearable tech.
Tell us a bit about your new S/S16 collection.
Absolutely! This season, we’ve taken our usual sci-fi influences and gone one step further – we’ve actually got anaglyph jewellery that looks 3D when you’re wearing 3D glasses. We’re going to be doing a project with holograms next season and we thought this would be a great run-up to that, looking at the kind of retro version and creating 3D imagery; it’s been super fun. We’ve also been working in partnership with United Nude and created a series of really groundbreaking shoes that have been all about deceptive materials – crazy swirls made of wood that look like they’re acrylic or lacquer; pieces of cork or clay that we’ve finished in really refined, slick ways so you can’t tell what the material is. Some of it’s deceptively heavy, some deceptively light. United Nude are a great brand match with us, because they really understand not restricting yourself in design, and that’s how I like to think as well.
What was playing in the studio during the design process this season?
It depended who was in there. If I’m in there I’m afraid it’s totally low-taste music – anything pop, commercial, maybe some 80’s thrown in there as well. If I’m not in the studio, by the time I come back Radio 6 is back on and the rest of the designers (who all have some level of taste in music) have been free for a few hours from my playlist of doom.
Did you have a specific kind of person in mind when you were putting the collection together?
Me [laughs]. With our customer, he or she is a very specific person – they are strong, confident and have a strong will of their own, and they’re looking for accessories to really complement their style and unique way of thinking, not to mask or distract from it. For us, they are a special strong person who wants to do something different and innovative, and wants to show that in their style.
I’ve always liked the way you have fun with your designs. Is fashion a bit too serious at times?
I think fashion can be too serious, for sure, and I do like to have fun with my collections. The reason I became a designer is because it was my passion, I loved it and enjoyed it – the time that [my work] isn’t fun anymore is the time it ends. It’s the most important thing for me, it’s imperative.
You are known for looking beyond the conventional and adopting advanced techniques within your work, along with your expertise on wearable tech. How do you think the wearable tech industry will evolve in the UK over the next few years?
That’s a really interesting question. I think that fashion technology fusion is absolutely the future. For me, my interest isn’t really within jewellery or fashion or products; it’s within the materials, the sculpture and structure of beauty, and innovation. The fusion of fashion and technology is absolutely inevitable, and the barrier preventing that from happening is language, which I think comes down to education. We really don’t see many courses that offer you fashion design alongside web coding, and I don’t understand why that is. Technology is the functionality that can bring that together. For us, our brand is about the fusion of a real artisan craftsmanship, where everything is handmade and limited edition and takes days to put together – but is actually facilitated by great technology, by 3D printing, by body scanning. I think we’re only going to see more of that, and I think it’s going to be a real enabler; we’re going to be so much more sophisticated about the way we design. Within the wearable tech field, you can see that we’re gradually starting to get towards a point where wearable tech is sort of fashion, but I don’t think we’ve really nailed it. Until fashion and technology sit down together at the beginning of a project, so that technology becomes integral in fashion (rather than just being like, ‘here’s a gadget, let’s make it prettier’) we’re not going to see it be effective. But I believe that time will come, and it’s not far away.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?
Oh my goodness, that’s hard to imagine. Well, for me, it was between fashion school and law school… as much as I love the creative side of things, I also love a good battle, a good argument! I always fancied myself as a barrister up on the bar. But yeah, this route’s been a good one too, I can argue with people about fashion so that’s no problem.
What’s been your favourite part of London Fashion Week this season?
It’s been exciting to be in the new [Brewer Street Car Park] venue. I think logistically there has been some challenges with the road outside – obviously we’re in a busy part of town, but we’re also in a great part of town. Inside the building, the British Fashion Council have done an amazing job creating a space that’s buzzy and feels exciting and contemporary, so it’s been really fun to be a part of that first season in the new space. It’s always fun showing in London – it’s my hometown, it’s where I know people and people know me. The British Fashion Council are great supporters of young and innovative talent, and it’s been great working alongside them.