Amelia Hessian is an all round creative, she found her calling in fashion design after excelling in her art foundation course. Currently a second year student at Nottingham Trent University specialising in menswear. Amelia’s creations are contemporary with heavy influences from workwear and sportswear. Her carefully considered colour palettes set her designs apart from the crowd. She displays her own unique illustrative style in her sketchbooks and that style continues to the finished product. Amelia recently won a competition hosted by ASOS, the brief was to design an Own Buy range for AW17, and to identify an Autumn Winter trend to inspire a 28-piece collection. We caught up with Amelia to find out more about this and to discuss her course, her projects, and ambitions for the future.
What made you want to study Fashion Design at Nottingham Trent University?
I decided to come to NTU, because I just loved the course, it seemed a really full, and creative. Though I’m from Nottingham, I’d been to see other uni courses and been on open days but Trent just stood out for me. It does also have a really good reputation for Fashion Design, so that was another reason, and their facilities are really good. I loved the feel of the studios and the bustling environment you get to work is great. The level of teaching, and staff are amazing, and you really get pushed to achieve the best you can. I had attended the Graduate Show a couple of times prior to applying to the course myself, and I was always blown away that actual students had designed and made the collections. I was intimidated at the thought being on the fashion design course, but I’m so glad I am! It’s amazing and I love it.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I’m specialising in Menswear, and decided this during art foundation. I would say my design aesthetic is really masculine, and that’s why I could never be a womenswear designer. I am really drawn to more boyish shapes and layering in particular. I am trying to learn more about tailoring, as I find it an incredibly interesting art, and since our three-month long menswear project I really wanted to learn more about it. I should perhaps try and look for an internship or some experience in tailoring to see if it’s something I’d like to focus on in third year. I also love streetwear, but I like the idea of mixing the two. I suppose I always try to achieve a bold look when it comes to designing, I’m drawn to oversized silhouette’s, I just like the way it falls over the body, I guess elements of the style in which I like to design is carried through to my personal style also. I’d say I’m a big believer in anything oversized, it just seems to always be flattering, and I always think there’s an element of cool in oversized Menswear, and I always aspire for my designs to appear cool.
Where and how do you find inspiration for your designs?
I am very much a visual person, rather than conceptual, so I like to look at photographers, visit exhibitions, and also look at day to day life in general. I find people very interesting, and am always fascinated by just watching them. For my current project I’m looking at eccentricity, especially in people older in age. The idea came to me when I was literally sitting in my grandparent’s house, I just looked around and thought YES! Perfect!
What kind of person do you have in mind when you are creating your designs?
I feel my designs are geared towards a younger, fashion forward market, that’s especially contemporary. I guess I think of my brother quite a lot when designing, he’s only 23, so he’s young and always thinking about what’s new and exciting. He’s very into fashion and I sometimes sit and think ‘would he wear this? Or like it?’ I trust his opinion, because he has a very good eye for design. He is a Graphic Designer, so that helps, but his personal eye for fashion is something I really admire, and I would always take his opinion’s on board. If I’m not thinking about my brother however, I’d probably say I’m aiming it at a young, trendy guy, living somewhere like Soho, who’s always wanting the newest, coolest garments. I feel like if I keep that in mind, my designs will never get old, I’m always forward thinking.
What projects have you done on your course?
I am currently in the second year of my course, but in first year we had two main projects, so they were long. The first was the ‘White Project’, where we were asked to take inspiration from architecture, it was about taking risks with pattern cutting, and shapes. I’m afraid I didn’t because I was too scared I wouldn’t be able to sew it, so I did something quite clean and simple, but I learned to push myself more in the future, so that was good.
The second project of the year was the ‘Colour Project’, we only had to make one garment/outfit, but I learned a lot, I loved what I made, I think this is when I started to gain more confidence with my ability to design, and build up my personal style. This year has been a major step up, at the beginning of the year we got given a live brief from ASOS, to create a 4 outfit Menswear Collection in groups of 6. Obviously being a group project it was a massive challenge, but my group actually won the whole competition. We are still yet to go down to London and spend the day at ASOS HQ, so I’m really looking forward to that.
It was an amazing experience, so much hard work was put into the project, that winning it just meant all the work paid off. We created a collection named ‘Inbetween Land’ which was inspired by the 1996 cult film Trainspotting, Francis Bacon’s paintings and elements of 1970s skateboarding all rolled into one. The end result was really successful, and I was so in love with our collection, it was different, and one of the heads of Menswear at ASOS (who judged it) said it felt it represented what was ‘new and current in Menswear right now’, which is something we really focused on, and something I would always hope to achieve within my own personal design ethos.
Is there a piece you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I’d have to say the oversized, tailored checked coat I made for the ASOS brief, I really put my blood, sweat, and tears into it. I learned so much from making it, I got a lot of help from our amazing tutors Aaron and David when it came to matching the checks, as that was something I’d never done before. I made pockets I’d never made before, and just learned new ways of doing things. I think I spent two full weeks in the studio making it, so I took my time, but it definitely paid off.I was very pleased with that piece, it looked really good on the catwalk and in the photographs when it was finished.
Who would be some of your dream labels to work with?
I’d really love to work for an exciting menswear label like Cottweiler, Liam Hodges, Christopher Shannon, and be based in London. I feel I’d really thrive at somewhere like that. Although it seems like a very fast paced environment, I think I’d embrace it. I am a very stressful person, but I also work harder under stress, and push myself more, and therefore get more out of it, so I think that’d be really exciting. The idea of also working for sports brands like Nike, Adidas etc would be really cool, I know they offer quite a lot of opportunities abroad so that would be something I’d be interested in looking at also.
What do fashion, clothing, and textiles mean to you?
Fashion means everything to me, it sounds cheesy, but I’ve always loved it, I just don’t think I ever realised how much! There was a point when I wasn’t going to go into Fashion because I found the idea of working in it too intimidating, and everyone tells you its ‘competitive’, but everything is these days. To me Fashion brings excitement to life, and it’s such a big world of colour, texture, design, and fun who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?
What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt as a student?
On my Fashion Design course we are drilled from the beginning about internships and immediately getting yourself out there, and being professional. I’d say this is one of the main things I’ve learned, and how you have to take it incredibly seriously, and work as hard as possible for you to achieve what you want to. I’ve also learned to embrace everything we are taught, and helped with, and to really push my abilities because when you go into work, you won’t have that opportunity again to design things that are so out there and do whatever you like.
Next year you will be putting your final major project together and potentially showcasing at Graduate fashion week, do you have any ideas of what you will be creating?
Not really, it’s very early to say, but the current Innovation Project we are doing is supposed to be a platform for us to try things before we get to third year. So if I really like the outcome of this project I may take it through. I suppose I just want to create a collection that I love, and represents me as a designer, something that is really new, different, and bold. I’d really like to make a statement.
What would you suggest to someone wanting studying fashion? Any tips or advice?
The biggest piece of advice I would give is to be 100% definite you want to do fashion, because for me if you didn’t then you wouldn’t want to put all that energy, time and effort into your course, it has to be a really strong passion. I’d also say don’t ever leave stuff, keep on top of your work, and don’t just do it because the tutors want you to. Try and really choose things you are personally interested in, you’ll get much more out of it, and love what you’re doing.